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Mayberry to Madison Ave and Back – the Emergence of Social Media

The other day I saw the update Did You Know Video and the main stat that stuck out to me was this.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million.

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This was a  pretty amazing stat.  I am just truly learning about social media and it’s power over the last few months .  I just got my Facebook account set up about 3 months ago.  I now am getting addicted to Twitter – once the tools get better I sure it will be hard for me to find anything else to do.  The power of social media is apparent to me so the stat does not seem unreal to me but it still made me think – Why?

The interesting thing about this list is that they are all technologies.  They are all technologies that enable communication.  They are all technologies that enable human behavior they don’t really create it.  So I had to ask the question what would be on the list before radio?  Before the radio technology gets pretty weak.  I am not a marketer by trade but it would seem the most powerful form of marketing is word of mouth and before Radio that was the main form of communication.

Mayberry

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Did you ever watch the Andy Griffith show?   It was small town USA – made for television of course – but what it showed was how things happened in small communities back in the day.  People found out about things from people in their community.  People would use something and not matter what the result others heard the review from the people they knew and that was powerful.  This could have also been spread by letters via snail mail but the real impact was how things were spread at the barber shop, at the diner or on the street.  But over time all that changed.

Madison Ave.

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Along came Radio and then Television.  They did not come along at the same time but had roughly the same result.  People could now broadcast out the message they wanted to spread to anyone with a receiving piece of technology on the other end.  This message did not care who you were or your relationship to the person on the other end.  It was designed to reach as many eyes and ears as possible.  The birth of true mass media.  For years we have lived in this space.  It has gotten much more complex over the years.  Brand experts have made a science and an art out of building brands.  For years the public has been told what to think about brands and how that brand should be perceived.  But times are changing…

Social Media

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In many ways Social media takes us back to the days of Mayberry.  We can now hear from the people that we know and trust about things that we care about – or they care about – or no one cares about – ?  But the point is that now in an instant on Twitter I can learn about someone's experience with something or something they find of interest – via word of mouth or tweet.

The difference now is that I am not restricted to the people in Mayberry.  I can find interesting people all over the globe that have something to say that I want to hear.  The tools on how to find these people, how you interact and filter the noise are still maturing but these are rule changing times.  I’m sure that brand managers are starting to figure out, if they have not already, that things are moving in a new direction.  The powerful thing is that Joe Public has no real idea what is coming.  People on Twitter and Friendfeed and all the like may not realize this but the average person has no idea what all this is.

The next few years are going to be very interesting because as the data at the beginning of this post shows things are moving fast.  The infrastructure is there – no longer do you have to buy a radio or TV or wait for the infrastructure to be built.  It is here – many people have internet access and millions more every year.  Developers now just layer the software on what is there already. 

So what do you think?  Are you ready?  Do you realize the power you have?