Just as the dawning of the "Internet Age" redefined the consumers ability to access information and become a more knowledgeable and confident shopper, another phenomenon is occurring 15 years later. Those same consumers, some of whom were not yet talking, let alone walking are writing about your products on blogs, editing your commercials on YouTube, defining who you are on Wikipedia and building groups of influence about you on social networking sites like FaceBook.
These are all elements of a social phenomenon, a groundswell that has created a permanent shift in the way the world works, some see it as a threat, others as an opportunity. Either way it is here now, and it it here to stay. It is a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need.....information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power - from each other. Its global, and its unstoppable! In my opinion is a tremendous opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors, build deep connectivity to your customers and build a positive image of your brand, be it a dealership, an OEM, or you as an individual.
The social networking profile of this community takes the form of for groups. Creators - they maintain a blog, a web page, or upload videos and represent approximately 20% of the online community. Critics - these people respond to blogs, post comments, edit wikis, they react rather than create, around 25% of the online community. Collectors - this group collects information, they bookmark websites, they represent a small percentage of the online community, approximately 10%. Joiners participate in or maintain profiles in the social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook, and has reached over 25% of the online community. These groups will continue grow in size and their reach into all facets of both our personal and business lives will continue to impact how we communicate, connect to and respond to each other.
The questions we must all ask ourselves is, where do we fit into the groundswell? Its happening with or without us, so we can either a) sit back and watch this tremendous opportunity pass us up or we can b) get involved, grow our brands and use it to our advantage. For me there is no question, Im in. I hope you join me.