The App Supernova: How the Tech Explosion Helps (and Hinders) Business

Today’s post is by guest author Olivia Pullman, a professional writer with the ability to write clearly and concisely about complicated subjects. I am sure you will enjoy her post, it certainly gives food for thought.

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Wake up today in the global market place of the 21st Century and the world has changed beyond recognition. Right from how goods and services are marketed to how we pay for them. Find an individual who has no internet access at some point in the day and you might be led to wonder: why? And how do they cope?

A smart phone and/or tablet device owner inevitably lives his or her day-to-day life to some degree through apps (applications).

The news of the death of Steve Jobs (Chairman of Apple Inc) in October 2011 was perhaps ironically delivered in a huge number of cases via an Apple Inc product, be it the iPhone, the iPad or on a mac. The evolution of these devices and their uses marks out what the future of our world has in store, and it is exciting.

The obvious suspects

The opportunities these types of device and their associated media present are almost limitless. Twitter and Facebook are perhaps the most common and frequently used vehicles in the social media journey.

 

 

 

Facebook is owned and run by Facebook Inc and has been in operation since 2004. It was borne out of University undergraduates at Harvard, wanting a place to catch up and socially organise themselves. And it spread like wildfire. At February 2012 it reportedly had more than 845 million users globally (Wikipedia.org).

Twitter was created some two years later and is described as the SMS of the internet. It somewhat strangely allows a direct interaction between users making their conversations truly limitless and global in every sense of the word. It is believed to have over 300 million users worldwide.

Via their smartphones and tablet technology people keep instantly up to date on financial news, current affairs, as well as keeping in touch with what friends and relatives are up to, sometimes on an hour by hour basis! They know who is buying what, where and when and where to spend and invest their money – cash ISA comparison, all at the touch of an app.

But there is a whole other aspect which is becoming more and more prevalent within these arenas and this is the operation of small business. From local level jewelry makers and crafters, bakers and swimming teachers to the opposite end of the scale, huge multi national organizations; the use of Facebook and Twitter are big business for business. It is essentially free marketing, and when targeted correctly it can be used with great success and results. Brand new fledgling businesses can now fully support themselves from a marketing perspective. OK granted they may not have the marketing training and experience in getting the very best out of the media but most have a good stab and use it to their advantage. And there is no doubting that it works.

It becomes a slightly more complex issue the larger the organization concerned is. Recently, an American subscription service selling middle range fashion shoes and handbags tried to break into the UK retail Market. It has a reasonably successful operation in the states charging a monthly subscription fee of $40, in return for which clients get style advice and an item of their choice each month. A large amount of their communications are handled via their Facebook page and to a lesser extent using Twitter.

Shoedazzle.co.uk was launched in the summer of 2011, and it started off well for them. Competitions help spread the word as well as client testimonials. But as their inability to cope with demand and quality in the products began to slip there was a lot of negativity levelled at the Shoedazzle UK Facebook page. It became for many an arena for moaning to some extent but very much also around warning people about the pitfalls of the organization in the UK and what to look out for. By January 31st 2012 the company had closed.

To a lesser extent Twitter was also used by Shoedazzle and its clients. To many it feels like a slightly more private arena, although it shouldn’t really. Clients can communicate one way (publicly) and the respondent replies back the other way (again publicly). It certainly takes an effort for any individual to keep track on the conversations being held. Meanwhile with Facebook any comments, complimentary or derogatory are visible in an instant to any subscriber to the page, as with the Shoedazzle.co.uk case. Due to the masses of massive competition and choice in the marketplace potential clients do turn to these media to do research as to whether it is a safe place to spent their cash.

Other downsides

It is a very real concern that the sole use of these media dehumanises organizations, they become a name with no face behind the name, no telephone number to call and no real customer service. The future implications are as yet unclear, but in the past charismatic leaders have driven the business world so the prospects surely can’t be that good.

It is undeniable that the use of these platforms is trendy, successful for some and very convenient for customers. However, they should always be used to complement other marketing strategies and certainly for larger businesses never in total isolation.

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Thank you Olivia.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright

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