I've been thinking a lot lately about the increasing adoption of technology in the mainstream, and what it might mean for us as a culture. I'm an incurable optimist, but I think these new ways of interacting can have a really positive effect on us. One example of how this could occur is through increasing the usefulness and quality of the products and services we use. I propose that "social media" will make it more difficult for inferior products to survive. Let me explain.
With the advent of mass media, and especially television, companies were given a tool they could use to reach millions and millions of potential customers. The power that this tool offered was (and still is) too compelling to ignore. For a business to survive, it became very important for it to get good at wielding the megaphone of marketing. So important, in fact, that great marketing sometimes (often) trumps a great product. In business school, we're taught that history is riddled with examples of superior products losing out to inferior ones because of marketing (Beta lost to VHS, Mac lost to Windows, etc.). As a beer lover myself, the utter dominance of low quality products from Budweiser, Miller and Coors is a phenomenon I cannot explain outside the power of marketing.
The age of BS Marketing can be brought to a close by social media.
Social media gives consumers, users, clients and customers collective access to the megaphone that has previously been held only by the marketers. Companies that flourish in the space of social marketing need their customers to help spread the word about their products, and that message has a decidedly different flavor than what we've gotten used to seeing on television.
To prove the distinction in the kind of messages about products and services, I'm using #tweetsyoullneversee. It's amazing how the nonsense we see on television stands out amongst the usual messages seen through social media.