The New Arbiters

The next time you get around spitting distance of two people having an argument about who better to believe between experts and retailers when discussing what’s in and what’s not, put your two cents in: “Social media!” While expert opinion and tech journalism may bear all the necessary information to pass around to everyone willing to take them, not everyone can be relied upon to readily comprehend through the jargon. Retailers can be depended upon to come up with endless brand stories to tell potential consumers, but the bias can come on too strong for not a few people. This is where the peer-to-peer confidence shared by social media users beat all other info bearers in other media.

Social circle influence is currently taking over the decision-making mechanisms inside people’s heads in ways that can be hard to match by any other means in traditional media. In a manner of speaking, it has even come to a point where social media user consciousness has begun to influence marketing trends in that particular consumer sector.

London’s Trendstream (globalwebindex) has continuously ongoing surveys of about 20,000 different kinds that all help determine the impact of various web uses in business. Particularly compelling is the way a significant number of these surveys show the trend veering towards social media’s relevance as an all-encompassing business information component. These are illustrated in the items discussed below:

• The big social media takeover. User engagement with popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like account for a majority of online activity rivaling data and info search. The trend shows an upward and unabated momentum and will make up most of the online interactivity in years to come. This is going on at almost the same rate that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are being used as preferential telecom and business productivity tools by both leisure and work-inclined users. Social media is just as accessible via mobile devices as they are via other web-accessible devices like desktop PCs and laptops. Mobile apps in smartphones are the most commonly used devices for accessing social media for info such as store locations, pricing, deals, and in making purchases. It is also a competent and reliable VoIP service supplement to any retail company’s access to the market.

• Real-time entertainment. Any tweet or a status shout-out posted on social media has the capability of eliciting a quick reaction from other peers and friends in the online social circle of influence. This is the kind of entertaining engagement rife with instant gratification so much into the alley of a large consumer group. It is compelling for any serious retail company to find ways of tapping into a niche so malleable to marketing stimuli that reacts to their preferences instead of dictating to them.

Power bloc

The social media user is an empowered consumer bloc capable of making or breaking trends currently in vogue. Since most users are commonly just as adept as accessing professional content via open browsers or information apps via mobile devices, they are also susceptible to other information retrieved from other sources just as influential. These are close confidantes in the online community who can be real-life friends or those whom they have come to meet via social media. As word gets around about brands and their immediate value experience among the online social circle, this can cancel out all previous information derived from professional content sources. By virtue of online herd consciousness, experts, observers, retailers and journalists will have to contend with the average social media user as a force to reckon with in the battle for consumer mind control. The average social media user with a smartphone accessing Facebook to post new status or comment on a thread has become the new arbiter telling you: “This is hot and that’s not!”