Power is the ability to act or capacity to perform or act effectively. Power is most often used to control or influence. Without a doubt, Social Media has a great deal of power! Social is exerting a great deal of influence over traditional marketing, advertising, and communication channels. Social has also given a great deal of power to the average consumer as has been demonstrated time and time again. One single individual with a single post or tweet can change an entire company's product offering, policy, or strategy. Consumers and individuals clearly understand the power of social media and they are not afraid to use it. On the other hand, businesses have not gained power from Social Media as quickly as individuals have. Why is that? It is because of knowledge.
Knowledge is defined as awareness or understanding gained through experience, observation, or study. The average consumer doesn't need to have a great deal of knowledge to take advantage of the power of social over businesses. All they need to know is that I state my case (whether it is valid or not), and if enough people hear or see it then businesses react and I win. This Power of Social Media is many voices (consumers) and the influence of one (business).
This formula works for consumers because it does not take much for a consumer to know what triggers a business to act. However, businesses, on the other hand, have to know the many triggers for the many individual consumers in order to influence them to act. For businesses, there are many, many, many more data points to be collected and analyzed.
Knowledge is acquired by analyzing data. When it comes to Social Media, this is called listening. In words, that Marketing Execs and CEOs will understand, this is called Market Research, better put: Market Research on steroids. Instead of surveys or focus groups this is raw, uncensored potentially unsolicited viewpoints of real people. As you listen, you learn how to use Social to your advantage. Gaining power when you use what you have learned from listening.
What can you learn from listening to Social Media? Businesses can learn how to select profitable new markets to enter, create a Blue Ocean. Through Social, businesses can learn how to select and attract the customers who best match their organization. Businesses can also reduce the risk and severity of bad customer service claims. These are just a few of the many things that businesses can learn from listening to Media. The next step is to put these learnings to use.
So to harness the power of Social Media you need to understand that many voices to become the influencer. For businesses, this means that you have to get many voices to influence others that you feel are worth doing business with. To do this, you must listen, learn and act. Contrary to popular belief, knowledge is not power. Power is the wise use of knowledge!