WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform instant messaging client for smartphones, PCs and tablets. The app relies on the Internet to send images, texts, documents, audio and video messages to other users that have the app installed on their devices. Launched in January 2010, WhatsApp Inc. was acquired by Facebook on February 19, 2004, for about $19.3 billion. Today, more than 1 billion people use the service to communicate with their friends, loved ones and even customers.
GeoCities was one of the Internet's earliest social networking websites, appearing in November 1994, followed by Classmates in December 1995, Six Degrees in May 1997, Open Diary in October 1998, LiveJournal in April 1999, Ryze in October 2001, Friendster in March 2002, LinkedIn in May 2003, hi5 in June 2003, MySpace in August 2003, Orkut in January 2004, Facebook in February 2004, Yahoo! 360° in March 2005, Bebo in July 2005, Twitter in July 2006, Tumblr in February 2007, and Google+ in July 2011. As operating systems with a graphical user interface, such as Windows 95 and Mac OS begin to emerge and gain popularity, this created an environment that allows for early social media platforms to thrive and exist.
For businesses, the shift in web consumerism and accompanying rise in social media brings both opportunity and responsibility. The sheer amount of data that customers make available through social media alone has web marketers jumping for joy. The real magic, however, lies in the opportunity to grow lasting and scalable relationships with your organization's customer base through social media. This is also where your online responsibility to your customers begins to take shape. Just as your customers' behavior has shifted, so have their expectations for yours. Whether your business is listening and engaging or not, customers are having conversations relevant to your operations. It's better to be part of the conversation, right? We sure think so!
If you use social media you need to engage with your customers, involve them in a dialogue, and ask them for their opinions. Post a picture of two items you are considering carrying in your store and ask customers which one they like best. This creates a dialogue which leads to shared posts which leads to engaged followers. Plus, if you follow this example, it will also lead to enhanced margins because your back and forth conversation will prevent you from buying the item that won't sell as well.
Networks formed through social media change the way groups of people interact and communicate. They "introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals." These changes are the focus of the emerging fields of technoself studies. Social media differ from paper-based media (e.g., magazines and newspapers) and traditional electronic media such as TV broadcasting in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, interactivity, usability, immediacy, and performance. Social media outlets operate in a dialogic transmission system (many sources to many receivers). This is in contrast to traditional media which operates under a monologic transmission model (one source to many receivers), such as a newspaper which is delivered to many subscribers, or a radio station which broadcasts the same programs to an entire city. Some of the most popular social media websites are Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), Instagram, WhatsApp, Google+, Myspace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, Baidu Tieba, and Wikia. These social media websites have more than 100,000,000 registered users.