The Telephone: King Of All (Social) Media

by Guest on February 28, 2011

This is a guest post by Rich DeFabritus. Rich is an award-winning business leader with over 20 years of industry experience in Marketing and Product Management focused primarily in the technology industry. He has been a featured speaker for Focus and King Fish Media webcasts, and his articles have appeared in Accounting Today and Enterprise Networking Magazine. Most recently, Rich led the social media efforts for Avaya’s Small and Medium Enterprise Communications (SMEC) Business Unit, helping Avaya earn recognition as one of the Top 50 Most Social Firms by the Huffington Post.

It never ceases to amaze me how cyclical life is. As sure as the sun will rise every day, it sets without fail, only to repeat that process again and again. That 1970’s staple – bell bottom jeans – are back in style. Heck, even the books we read and the movies we watch have recurring themes – you’ve no doubt heard that there’s only seven basic plot lines?

Ironically, the same can be said for technology trends – consider social media, for example. The growth of social media over the past few years has been nothing short of explosive. People everywhere are embracing social media as a way to engage, influence, and communicate. Yet, social media has existed – and has been used en masse – across the globe for nearly 100 years.

If you find that a bit incredible, or even unbelievable, then consider Wikipedia’s definition of social media: “ for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques…” Sounds a lot like the telephone, doesn’t it? In fact, you could argue that the telephone is the original social media tool.

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you use your phone to engage customers and collaborate with co-workers more than any other device at your disposal. If you want to build relationships, measure sentiment, or build awareness, you couldn’t find a better method than a phone or conference call. Don’t bore me with statistics showing how big the Facebook network is (500+ million) – the phone network flat out puts it to shame with over 5 billion (with a “b”) users. To top it off – you aren’t limited to 140 characters!

Even social media 2.0 has nothing on the telephone. The latest buzz in social media is location-based services, such as Foursquare or Gowalla, whereby you can map interactions with customers or contacts. Yet, some phone systems have applications, such as contact center software, that provide the same level of insight into customer interactions.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully embrace social media, and consider it a viable way to reach a base of potential (or existing) customers. However, I encourage you not to dismiss the telephone as an equally practical approach to accomplishing the very same thing.

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