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Akason 1 Shayden Akason Professor Kolt English 101 5 December 2011 Social Media Empowers Todays Consumer Facebook

started in 2004, and today it has more than eight hundred million members. The necessity of social media marketing for businesses has skyrocketed during this time period. Just a few of the ways businesses are using social media are to improve the companys image and trustworthiness, to engage with current and potential customers, to generate traffic to their site, and to access customer feedback. Social media has changed the landscape of communication between customers and companies. Customers can now file complaints, discuss product ideas, and connect with CEOs and other employees who were previously unreachable. This shift has greatly empowered consumers and can positively affect society if used correctly. Social media is beneficial to customers because it amplifies their voices, giving them the attention and power to gain immediate customer service, give product improvement ideas, and make sure businesses maintain ethical business practices. In recent years the quality of customer service in the United States has been terrible, but social media is giving consumers the power to gain immediate responses to complaints and requests. With the newfound ability to post complaints in an open forum, customers now have a stronger voice, which has altered the roles between consumers and organizations. Companies

Akason 2 such as Facebook and Twitter are now making organizations the listener and consumers the voice. When consumers file a complaint on Twitter, they can expect to have an answer within twenty four hours. Organizations answer quickly, and as Senior Editor for Global Strategic Management Institute, Meaghan Edelstein states, [B]ecause this answer is given in an open forum they tend to be higher quality and not the frustrating response many of us are use to, sorry, nothing we can do. It is important for businesses to keep customers happy by providing great customer service; Courtney Rubin, contributing editor of Inc. says, 81 percent of consumers using social media say its important for businesses to respond to questions and complaints. Businesses are becoming more reliant on keeping consumers intrigued and satisfied because of the expansion of social media. If a consumer makes a complaint and a company doesnt fix their problem, it can create a downward spiral for social media sites. Other customers on social media may see these unanswered complaints and turn away from the company. In addition, social media empowers the consumer by allowing him or her to give reviews and express product improvement ideas. There are many social review services that allow customers to give reviews of organizations. These new review sites make it easy for consumers to find the places in town that fit their needs best. Not only does social media provide better customer service for consumers, businesses are actually taking complaints into account and creating solutions. Consumers are coming up with solutions to problems companies have, and companies are listening. Social Media Specialist Shana Albert says, Companies are listening to their customers they are using their customer suggestions to create new products that they are

Akason 3 asking for. Consumers are now not only buying products, they are helping create the products that they want. Many consumers determine a products quality by looking at the reviews. Many times product reviews are done with a star system. Those who buy a product are able to evaluate the quality of the product by designating how many stars out of five the product deserves. This star system makes shopping much quicker. Instead of doing difficult research on a product, one is able to decipher the top product by quickly glancing at the ratings products have received. This improvement, through social media, is another example of the shift of power from organizations to consumers. The evidence of this shift can also be seen in the way brands strategize. Brands have changed the way they market because of the tools with which consumers are now equipped. Meaghan Edelstein explains the way in which marketing strategies have changed when she says, marketing strategies are now interactive, fun and engaging. Rather than pushing advertising at you, businesses are trying to create content that will encourage customers to share information about the brand across the web with family and friends. Brand marketing has changed, resulting in more interesting advertising campaigns and better relationships with customers. The importance of social media advertising to companies is shown in a statistic given by Courtney Rubin: seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site. Customers value information that is available on social media, but Rubin also states that the majority of social media users want special offers, promotions, and information about events. It is shown that brands are also being forced to market differently because, as Brian Solis states in an interview, the impact of social media creates a new class of consumer and they are not at all like the consumers of the past. Besides providing better customer service, giving customers the ability to write product reviews, and

Akason 4 changing the way businesses market, social media is giving consumers the ability to make sure organizations are held responsible for their business practices. Social media is also providing customers with the opportunity to make sure businesses maintain ethical business practices. The importance of social media can be seen through Simon Mainwarings words: Through social media, consumers are empowering themselves to persuade and cajole companies into accepting a greater social responsibility in society. Social media gives consumers tools that allow them to hold irresponsible companies accountable, and compliment companies that are responsible. Slowly consumers will lean towards companies that are helping society by providing outreach programs and donating money to causes. Consumers are going to back companies that are making a better world for future generations. The good companies have embraced social media, because they realize its impact on their success. Companies that fail to recognize this importance are going to suffer. Companies that are successfully navigating the social media market are solving the problems of their products or services based on customer reviews. Alison Massie, a social media related freelancer says, opportunities for businesses include direct, personal consumer conversation, resources for customer service and feedback, and real time brand gauge. These companies are creating better customer relationships and are doing what is good for the society, not just their own business. Companies are going to develop better products as they become more responsive to customers wants and needs as a result of the connection that social media makes between businesses and consumers. Social media will

Akason 5 continue to grow as we move into the future, and soon it will be routinely included in organizations business plans. Customers and companies alike are benefiting from the social media revolution and its empowerment of the consumer.

Akason 6 Works Cited Albert, Shana. The Power of the Consumer using Social Media. Blissfully Domestic Online Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011. Edelstein , Meaghan . Social Axcess Top Ten Ways Social Media Empowers Consumers. Social Axcess. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011. Hird, Jake . Consumers control social media, and brands need to wise up | Econsultancy. Econsultancy | Become a smarter digital marketer. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

Kistner, Justin. Social Media is Good For Consumers and Here is Why. SOCIAL FRESH The Business of Social Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011. Mainwaring, Simon. CSRwire Talkback How Social Media Empowers Consumers to Reengineer Capitalism. CSRwire Talkback. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

Rubin, Courtney. "Consumers More Likely to Use Businesses Active on Social Media |" Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

Solis, Brian. Engage! the complete guide for brands and businesses to build, cultivate, andmeasure success in the new Web. Rev. and updated. ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print. Solis, Brian. Engage Book Discussion California Lutheran University. Webstream, ThousandOaks, CA. 11/17/2011

Massie, Alison. The Impact of Social Media on Business. California Lutheran University,Thousand Oaks, 1 Dec. 2011. Lecture.