Social Media is Word of Mouth
In the past advertising was one-way. Sellers used traditional mediums like television, radio, billboards, and newspapers to tell us about their products and services. When content was linear, they were able to market to a captive audience. The internet changed everything, allowing for two-way communication between marketers and consumers. The internet took away power from huge marketing agencies and gave it to the average user.
Each person has a sphere of influence made up of the people they associate with. Social media sites make it easy for people to find and stay in communication with friends and acquaintances, amplifying the reach of a single consumer. Each of these friends has friends who also have friends, allowing any single user to deliver their message to a potential audience of hundreds, thousands, or possibly even millions.
Just as social media can spread positive messages, if ignored, it also has the ability to do great harm to a brand. People will discuss their grievances with a company, whether or not the company chooses to participate. By not participating, these negative messages can become viral, attracting others with similar grievances. As more and more people join the conversation and link to it, the search engines will notice and help to deliver even more traffic to it. To prevent this, businesses must demonstrate to customers that they are listening and care by responding promptly to criticism.