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Facebook Shifting Power to the Consumer?

Posted on : 28-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Customer Service, Social Media

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We have been watching the groundswell of Customers in social media, but a current beta for Facebook will completely change the game.  According to Facebook’s statistics there are over 200 million users, with many rumors topping that number well above 300 million.   Compare this to the rumors regarding the size of Twitter which is about 30 million or more.   We have all watched recent enhancements to Facebook that have more Twitterfied the experience.  Now they are adding the capability to share status with everyone, and potentially this information will be searchable.  But what does this all mean, and why are they doing it?

Rumors last fall were that Facebook was making a bid to buy Twitter, but talks never really took off.  Whether the rumor was true or not, there is no doubt that Facebook saw value in what Twitter has to offer.  We have seen many examples where news has taken off via Twitter.  Most recently the uprisings in Iran were broadcast live via Twitter directly from Iran.  This way of communicating is really making the world a smaller place.  We also watched recently has news of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett passing away.  Even fake news has the ability to spread like wildfire, such as the incorrect rumor of Jeff Goldblum dying.  Every piece of news over the past year or so really started via Twitter.  I am sure the same as true in Facebook, but because there was no central resource of this data, no one would know unless you were friends with those talking.  The top 10 Twitter search was a true game changer.

For those that want to get the most out of Twitter, search makes it really easy.  By entering a few key words you can quickly locate new friends that are talking about things of interest.  Facebook has search but it is limited to thing like people’s bio, groups or specific pages.  Not easy to connect with someone that may be talking about a unique musical interest or something like that.  So to me Facebook was always about existing friends.  Twitter has always been about meeting new friends.

So how is this shifting the power to the Consumer?  Today most people online have a megaphone, but the reach may be just within their reach of friends.  It is easier to spread your thoughts on any businesses that you deal with, but it is limited within Facebook.  By changing the status to be available for everyone, this will now provide a megaphone to speak to 100′s of millions of people at any given time.  How will a company respond?  It is time to think about that now.   Advertising on Facebook has not always had the best reach, especially since people tend not to click on the ads.  Ones that have been successful are typically very unique and very hit or miss.  One of my favorites was the Burger King Whopper giveaway.  But now business will have to find a way to harness the power of the Consumer voice, respond to it and create the right experience.  Of course all of this starts with creating the right experience for products and serviced offered to the Customer (and non-Customers for that matter), otherwise this potential groundswell can be much larger than anything we have seen before.  Also people will talk about a product or service, even if not seeking help through ordinary channels.  This will make it where companies will be forced into the conversation.  The one thing we know is in this Google world, information, right or wrong will always be available through Google.

Ready or not, here comes your Customer!