Gary Vaynerchuk has a great analogy about social media that I love. In our grandparents and great-grandparents’ eras, buying local was largely the only option, and chances are you went to the same butcher in town that your mom did, and she went where her mom did, and so on. There was never a need to look for another butcher, because you were perfectly satisfied with the butcher you went to. Great, fresh products and great customer service. It was always like this, because not having fresh meat or delivering poor customer service meant a complaint to any one of the local social groups. And when the PTA discovers Butcher Bob provided bad customer service, it could quickly go downhill for him. Losing one customer often meant losing their family and friends; potentially a large amount of revenue. Great customer service wasn’t something shop owners had to learn about – it’s just the way it was. It had to be, often for the sake of their children’s futures.
Then things started changing. People began drifting away from each other, beginning with the introduction of the car and a move to suburban areas. Eventually, the internet helped people retreat even more inward and away from others. Until Web 2.0 – Social Media – came along in the early 2000s.
“The silent, anonymous, private Internet suddenly turned extremely chatty, personal, and revealing. Small-town living moved online as people eagerly sought out each other’s latest news. Our morning social media browse to check in on what everyone has been up to became the equivalent of the old-timers’ early morning stroll to the diner for pancakes and coffee. We check Facebook and comment on a friend’s photo of her new shoes (which we know without asking are Kate Spades and were bought at Nordstrom’s because she said so in her status update) the same way we once would have remarked, “You look lovely in that hat, Marge,” as we passed by our neighbour.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy
But how does this help businesses? And why should you, as a business owner, care? Because it’s changed the game, and change is only going to continue to occur. If you don’t jump onboard now, you will find yourself lost in five years.
Consumers can now talk to each other from across the world, for free. This means they can share information, experiences, and opinion. Word of Mouth (what the butchers of yester-year’s businesses were built on) is back. It’s just moved online, and the new audience is global.
That’s why you should care.