How social media has empowered the consumer and what are its implications?

Consumers can now freely air their opinions and express their views on blogs, review sites, forums etc, leaving behind a trail of reactions corporate entities cannot afford to ignore. Even big brands and top-notch marketers are often made to sit up and take notice of the customer feedback on the Web. A host of social networks are providing users with a public platform to have a say.

Social media empowers the consumer

We shall try to follow how social media has empowered the consumer and what are its implications for businesses.

A community of proactive consumers can influence business policies, as they can together make themselves heard thanks to the new media channels. They can run a campaign by accessing other like-minded individuals. The process accelerates the whole information flow. Understandably, they are becoming much more vocal and proactive, thus changing the dynamics of overall business communications.

These powerful new media communication channels have given a big boost to mass interactions. It is not surprising that new-age consumers like you now justifiably believe that they are in a stronger position when it comes to dealing with companies and influencing their policies. The Yahoo fellow (communications technology & international values) at the Georgetown University, Gaurav Mishra, feels surprised ‘to see so much engagement in social media’. He has stated:

“The first time that social media was widely used like this in India was when the tsunami happened. At that time there was no Twitter. Witnesses on the ground sent text messages to people with access to computers, who in turn, complied them on blogs. Since then, there has been greater access to social media tools. I was taken aback by the amount of social media coming out of Mumbai during the terrorist attacks. Most people in India don’t have access to computers or high end phones. Therefore it is surprising to see so much engagement in social media.”

Following are some of the implications of today’s empowered consumers

  1. Social media users are more proactive; they are more engaged and involved in analyzing the information they receive.
  2. They harbor high expectations and want business entities to pay heed to their views.
  3. Marketers now feel it is necessary to become more vigilant while employing social media.
  4. Brands need to be much more responsive and receptive to each individual consumer’s comments.

The new trend of consumer empowerment

Of course, the real power of social media is for consumers to be felt. They can now tell companies what they think of their products/ services. They can influence corporate functioning, to an extent. The networking platforms offer them an opportunity to know the working philosophy of a corporate house. A meaningful dialogue initiated among a bunch of aware individuals or groups via the new channels is clearly empowering the masses, to support a cause.

The key for businesses is to build a credible and solid presence for their brands on the Web, especially on the review sites. Influencers not only promote your brand, but also defend it during an online reputation crisis. Once you manage to do so, your online marketing strategy is bound to click, literally.