The First Step to Social Media Was The Pony Express
Can you imagine how tired those horses’ hooves would be today if they had to type on one of these keyboards instead of riding the trails? Man! Even, I’ll Have Another – the King of the horse-racing world this year – would’ve had a tough time adapting to all the new ways we get our messages out, loud and clear.
Actually, no, I’m not kidding. (Well, certainly about the horses having to type). But this is a new ‘issue’ we are gong to be speaking about for the coming months. This is the world of social media. A world that now is filled with everything from blogs to text messages, to Facebook, Twitter and having the ability to fill up YOUR Inboxes with so much mail it’s not even funny. Of course, once upon a time, all of this used to fill up your real mailboxes which bothered you even worse.
Each week we will delve into a new area of social media. We will discuss the slow collapse of the ‘brick-and mortar’ store in many industries. If you don’t believe me just look at the new Amazon reign that will soon turn the world of publishing on its ear. So…is this better? Is social media – the wave of the future – the revolution that allows small businesses that you would otherwise disregard completely the ability to draw in a clientele and make money? Is direct marketing a thing of the past now that blog campaigns and email express options are in? In fact, with Facebook adding and changing applications, as well as Google, to allow you to create announcements, sale notices, new product ads, etc. AHEAD of time so that you don’t have to hire people to ‘man’ your computers 24/7, there is more and more social media doors opening wide.
In addition, the generation gap on this one is almost humorous. Parents and children always have a gap whether it be in music, literature, dating, what have you – but with this – social media – the World Wide Web, cell phones, and this 21st century technology – the gap has become far more advanced. It s actually hysterical to hear my own daughter live and die by these creations; she ends up sounding like R2-D2 because I have NO idea what she’s talking about. And then I get to see my mother shake her head and rue the day that people stopped reading books and writing letters.
Now, no, my Mom wasn’t actually around when the Pony Express came to be, but I do want to show you how correct Mom actually is in her feelings about the whole thing. Even though the ‘presentation’ of your business and ideas have changed, the point remains the same: How fast can you get your ‘message’ out to clients? What options do you have when building your client list and, more importantly, can you handle the customer service and complaint area that WILL become huge once you begin swimming in the deep well of social media?
And have you taken into consideration the hardest part? ANYONE can get on the Web and say anything they want about you, your product, your service…even if it’s a total fabrication. Which means, as fast as you find a way to pump out those social media campaigns, you can receive back negative publicity in the blink of an eye. In 1860, I doubt very much that people complained to the Pony Express rider, seeing as that without him they wouldn’t have gotten much of anything!
And, of course, at that time communication was far more important than it is now. We weren’t using it to sell products or services or gain a ‘following,’ we were actually using it so that people could find out information regarding the American Civil War; which, of course, is a little more important than the latest sale at Victoria’s Secret. (Okay…it was then!)
To give you a little background so you really begin to understand this new social media phenomenon that keeps growing each and every minute of each and every day, let’s look at the beginning. The first ‘message’ delivery system was carried by horseback riders in relays to stations across the dreaded Rocky Mountains. During the eighteen months that the Express ran, the time for messages to travel between the coasts was reduced significantly. Although I am quite sure those poor men would have much rather been given the ability to ‘point and click.’
Now, we jump ahead to something that is actually still used nowadays but not as much as it once was. Direct mail campaigns are very difficult. I know, believe me, because I actually worked for a company that had to sell directories to businesses and libraries across the country in the 1980’s. for this long-winded process, you began with the printed piece, you ran off thousands of labels from your database, and then you (I) took them home and spent many, many weekends dividing the mail into two sections – State and Zip Code. I had to sort, bundle with rubber bands, put the right stickers on the top of each bundle and then haul them – which was the most difficult part – to the local post office where they had to be gone through, weighed, forms filled out and money paid.
The sad part about these direct mail campaigns was the fact that 90% of the printed pieces would be thrown away before anyone ever bothered to look at them. Why? Because in the end, this is nothing but junk mail. Now, of course, we simply go into our ‘junk’ mail category on our email and delete them all at once. Saves time and energy.
Direct mail is not all its cracked up to be, which is why social media is becoming far more glamorous nowadays. The world of Facebook and Facebook Ad Campaigns that all individuals and companies can use, literally displays a company’s ad on millions of screens across the globe in only seconds, which is an easier and more productive way of ‘getting your word out.’ Then, with the world of Twitter, you have the ability to say all you need to say, all day and all night long if need be. With this famous duo, as well as others we will speak about, you are able to target THE audience that literally are THE people who want your product and/or service.
As I said, over the next few months we will be delving into several facets of social media. When and how to set up the perfect website; how to drive traffic to that website; how to advertise; how to reach your target audience in seconds; and, how to build your client list and improve your business with nothing but a fast typist and a killer imagination to make it work.
This way, we can all learn about the intricacies social media together…and make sure that all future generations of horses don’t ever have to be put through the agony again.
Be First is the “Slight Edge to Get Your Company Noticed” www.befirstinc.com