I have always been a diehard idealist. Before my social media and word of mouth marketing days, I was a math teacher in inner-city New York. I believed strongly that education was the great equalizer- that through a good education, even poor, otherwise-disadvantaged kids could achieve amazing things. I still believe in the power of education. But now I see a new "equalizer" - social media, and I am in awe of this everyday. Last week, theKbuzz published a list of the Top 40 Facebook Fan Pages. What was surprising about the list to some was not Barack Obama or Coca-Cola, but Zippy's, a small group of restaurants in Hawaii, or SmartyPig, a small online bank, or the North Dakota State Fair. What do these last 3 have in common? For one thing, they have far less money and fewer resources than Barack Obama or Coca-Cola. Yet they still manage to have huge, well-targeted fan bases.
On Twitter, there are millions of individuals representing small and tiny (1 person) businesses. And when a local pizza joint in New Orleans has nearly 5,000 followers compared to international flower brand ProFlowers with 118 followers, you know that something must be up.
What's up is that everyone is on a fairly level playing field with social media. Sure, Coca Cola and Pepsi can still spend millions on ads to drive awareness, traffic, and yes, even fans and followers. BUT by having a conversation with people- and by putting out great content- whether it's entertaining videos, educational links, inspiring photos, or breaking news, a brand of 1, 100, or 1,000 can build itself using social media.
Of course, social media as an equalizer goes way beyond the scope of marketing, brand-building, and business. Just ask the tens of thousands of people tweeting in and around Iran.