The internet is now an integral part of business communication. We buy and sell on it. A benchmark of credibility is whether a company of business has a website.
We buy and sell on the web. Email is a staple of business communication. But where is communications commerce headed next?
Wireless communication has quickly expanded with the development of more powerful networks and devices that offer voice, text, and web access. No matter where you go, there you are.
Much of the capability of the new technology has been used for “social” networking that allows friends and associates to track one another’s whereabouts almost continuously. The terms twitter and tweet have become ubiquitous, as have” face book”, “my space” other social websites.
But can these applications have commercial use?
Simply put, "social media" is websites that help people connect to each other.
For example, MySpace and Facebook are networking websites that allow friends and families to share pictures and information about each other's lives.
LinkedIn is a "professional" networking site that can connect coworkers or those who worked together in the past.
Social Media may be good for business, but it started as a way for friends and family to stay connected about each other's lives. At first, College kids stayed in touch with each other, and now mom, dad and their grandparents are checking their social media updates to see what's happening.
Nathan Wright/CEO, Lava Row: "One, one value that we see right away um -- a personal example is um sort of following what your kids or grandkids are up to um and just family members. So, my uncle who lives in ah Northeast Iowa has recently joined Facebook and now is connected very efficiently um and connected in a very like hyper-connective way with with me and um and his two daughters. And now they're uploading ah you know photos of their kids on there and keeps ah -- So, he's able to track what I'm up to as well.
He gets these little updates from my Facebook status feed and ah he drives my mother crazy because he now has inside information into my life that she doesn't and then he emails her about it and then and then it drives her nuts. He can kind of sit back and log into Facebook and then get a daily portrait of what family members are up to. Things he may not even know about until like the holidays when we see him."
Then, there's the new kid on the block, Twitter.
The 140 character microblogging site is the frequent target of online satire like these YouTube videos.
(YouTube videos making fun of Twitter.)
"Conversations" chosen are based on an individual's interests. For example, Twitter "parties" include subjects of news organizations, actors, sports teams, and even politicians. The latter group gained national attention/notoriety during President Obama's address to the House and Senate when members were seen on television sending "tweets" during the speech.
Sometimes the Twitter Online "cocktail parties" become real life gatherings. They are called a tweetups. Its a chance for people who get together online, to get together in person ... .. old fashioned communication human to human.
Jeremy Bingaman/@IowaRadioGuy: “My Twitter name is IowaRadioGuy, my name is Jeremy Bingaman, we are here at a Tweetup at the High Life Lounge downtown, we are here to completely just hang out with each other, hang out with friends.”
This Des Moines area tweetup happened in a bar and attracted national attention. NBC's The Today Show showed up to shoot a story of a Des Moines man who was "downsized" out of a job. He posted a note about his search for work and he eventually got a new job… another example of how Twitter help people learn more than the 140 character limit.
Nathan Wright: "My name is Nathan Wright and my title here is founder at Lava Row. Lava Row is a social media education and consulting firm."
Nathan Wright left a job at an advertising agency to found Lava Row, located in an office space above a coffee shop in Des Moines’ trendy east side. His business helps companies track what is being said about them online in an effort for companies to better serve their customers or clients. Whether under the cover of darkness or the light of day, conversations about business are happening.
Nathan Wright "the immediate benefits are conversations with you customers one on one, listening to them, caring about what they say, um from marketing or marketer's perspective we see a lot of these people um -- clients of ours suddenly thrust into a customer service role because now if you have a page on Facebook for your business or a presence on Twitter people are going to be asking you questions.
And focusing in on that Online "radar", Wright says, can help a company's efforts to better serve its current and potential future customers.
Nathan Wright: "It certainly hasn't replaced in real life conversation but now it's sort of augmented. People are using blogs or podcasts or social networks to sort of leave a conversational footprint out there... products they like, brands they like, things they don't like as well. They're very vocal about it."
Wright adds - the value of social media is the number of potential engagements with potential customers.
Nathan Wright: “Success is based on engagement we feel. So, you look -- a business opens a presence on Twitter or on Facebook and then you want to look at over time how many people are actually engaged with that. Are the people leaving comments, uploading photos of videos to your presence or page on Facebook? Are they actually talking to you on Twitter or is it a one way conversation? And if it's one way you have not been successful yet. You're not providing value or interesting things to your consumer base."