I read a rather interesting piece on eConsultancy about the world of online dating and how the free sites, such as Plenty of Fish and Mingle2, are likely winning the war of attracting singles to their sites versus their paid counterparts such as Match.com (which just recently paired up with Yahoo Singles), PerfectMatch & EHarmony. With the economy in a downturn and keeping steadily in that range, online users are looking to save money where they can, even when they are looking for love.
Now, throw social networks into the mix. On Facebook a member has the ability to change their relationship status and announce to the world that they are looking for a potential mate. If someone else in their network is also looking, they can get a much better picture of how that person really is, in “real life”, on a social network like Facebook because people are much more willing to share information with their “Friends”, than complete strangers on some dating site.
So what are industries like the online dating industry suppose to do? Especially when all of a sudden your biggest competitor just came out of left field and sucker punched you with their vast amounts of members, and free information about them, plus allowing them to communicate for free? All the stuff that the big paid sites are charging their members to do.
You change, you adapt and you give your audience what they are clamoring for. You need to up the anty and give them more for their money, otherwise, Facebook and your free counterparts who are becoming more and more like a social network, are going to overtake your audience.
Look at how the cable news networks have adapted as opposed to their floundering counterparts, the news papers. Cable news as made their online sites major hubs of interaction. CNN has integrated the “like” or “recommend” feature everywhere on their site. They’ve embraced Twitter and adapted their real time reporting to include iReport, which has become a major hub for citizen journalism. CNN has adapted, CNN has changed, and CNN is flourishing in the online news world where others are merely scratching their heads wondering how in the world they are going to keep treading water.
Even the travel industry has adapted and changed. Notoriously “hands off” with customers before social networks and ratings & reviews came into play, the travel industry had to change due to people not only using ratings and review sites, such as TripAdvisor, to share their experiences but people who actually using those sites to make their decisions whether to stay someone, take a particular airline or other mode of transportation. The travel industry had to adapt to become more social with their audience.
So is social media changing the way your industry is interacting? Has your marketing changed? Has your outlook or your marketing plan changed because of social media and how your customers are sharing their experiences?