The wonderful world of social media has truly redefined the outdoor industry by creating a new two-way communication model that bridges manufacturers and consumers into a seamless exchange of instant interchange.

Social media, at its root, is characterized by the share and exchange of information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. This new and ever so popular advance in technology introduces a change in how customers gather their information and in some cases affects their purchasing decisions or perspective on a brand.

Social media differentiates from traditional media, such as print or TV, in many aspects such as quality, reach, frequency, usability, and immediacy. According to Nielsen, Internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011.

So how does this have any impact on you? Social media plays an intricate role in how we as outdoor enthusiasts discover, research, and share information about brands and products. In fact, Nielsen found that 60 percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites; i.e., Facbook, Twitter, YoutTube, and Instagram.

Social media allows businesses to create open relationships with customers by encouraging people to identify with the brand by telling their own story. There’s nothing better than an open and meaningful communication that’s transparent through instant feedback and acknowledgement.

Most companies can learn a lot about their customers by taking an open and honest look at what makes their relationship successful and actually listen to their valued fans/followers. Customers are sick and tired of being treated like second class individuals–a real “relationship” can make all the difference. There’s never been a more influential way for customers to ask questions, post brand opinions, and leave quality feedback for manufacturers. The opportunity is truly endless and we haven’t even scratched the surface.

Brandon Wikman is an industry expert in Online and Digital Media Communications for today’s outdoor brands. He’s the CEO of Maxima Media, a new age marketing agency and creators of the Hyper-Communication Network. For more information on Maxima Media call 612.5.MAXIMA or email Brandon@MaximaMedia.co.

Image courtesy Brandon Wikman

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