According to the now obsolete Hypodermic Needle Model theory, traditional media has an “immediate” effect on the masses. The theory stated that people were passive receivers of information and that they were immediately influenced by it.
This theory was developed in the days when only traditional media existed and its meaning of the word ‘immediate’ is vastly different from today’s adrenaline driven, turbo charged world of social media and online communities.
Immediate today means ‘immediate’!
Earlier, it took at least a few hours for news to be updated through traditional media (as it does sometimes even today). But today, by that time, crucial updates would have already broken out on forums and social channels.
In today’s highly interconnected world, it’s very important today to know about key events as soon as possible. This necessity invariably prompts people to look towards information sources that are more real-time oriented.
For instance, the ongoing crisis in Syria captured headlines world over, especially on the web. People took to online communities and social sites like Twitter and Instagram to protest and express their anguish. A brand crisis like defective brakes in a new car model too can prompt widespread searches. Tyson’s chicken scare recently triggered a few frantic searches.
Search engines are mostly regarded as a treasure trove of data by netizens. Innumerable people gravitate towards search engines when they are looking to learn about the latest events. However, a developing trend is where web users are turning to online forums and social sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the like for real-time updates.
Let’s do a quick inspection of the most popular multi-lingual search engines and understand their current position in terms of availability of real-time updates:
Arguably the most popular search engine, Google has not missed this trick. They have been covering Twitter and FriendFeed updates to which they added Google+ updates also recently.
Microsoft’s search engine is also up-to-date offering Twitter and Facebook updates on its SERPs.
They entered the game a little late after both Google and Bing but Yahoo! also started offering real time information on the search categories available at search.yahoo.com.
There are also unmistakable signs of search engines opening up to search result components of different natures when compared to results that appeared on SERPs traditionally. For example, Google has begun integrating Google+ updates and it recently allowed more in-depth articles in its search results. According to Google, many users’ requests for information were for broader topics, to cater to which, the search giant incorporated more detailed posts in SERPs.
YouTube videos have also been included in search results from a long time.
All of this asks the question, ‘Can brands take advantage of people’s interest in real-time information?’ One way of doing this is in the manner mentioned above; of quickly reaching out to consumers at a time of a product crisis.
Another way to positively leverage this opportunity is by aligning promotions with significant events. Tweeting congratulations to Golden Globe winners as the awards are announced or building a quick info newsbyte around significant events will help the brand get featured in the search results.
How else can brands leverage people’s search for real-time information? Tell us!
Image Sources: Bizness Quest, Real Traffic Productions