THE REAL ROLE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
In 2009, a company called Knowledge Networks published a fairly unpopular piece of research, which stated that while “social media has reached critical mass, with 83 percent of the Internet population using it—and more than half doing so on a regular basis . . . the genre has failed to become much of a marketing medium, and in [their opinion], likely never would.”42
The report—titled “How People Use Social Media”—concluded that social media had become a profound way for people to connect with other people but not a meaningful way for people to connect with companies, brands, or promotions. The study continued to assert that social media was not necessarily a very compelling or effective advertising medium and would ultimately find its place somewhere “down the road,” that is, downstream in the consumer behavior process.
Little did they know that they were 100 percent correct, if for all the wrong reasons. In a clunky and flawed manner, Knowledge Networks focused their methodology on social networks like Facebook or presence applications like Twitter as replacements for web portals (Yahoo! or MSN) or even television networks (CBS or NBC)—in other words, high-reach vehicles. In doing so, they pretty much ignored 95 percent of the rest of the space. They also separated word of mouth from social media, when, in effect, the two are inextricably linked.
Unbeknownst to them, Knowledge Networks was literally inches away from a fairly stunning epiphany ...