On average, every 6 minutes China’s 190 million smart phone users will log on to check in. It is a population that has grown exponentially over the last 5 years, and with the speed by which this crowd moves, it is bringing about on of the greatest disruptions in how firms interact with stakeholders. Gone are the day where firms push content through static channels (billboards, press releases, and websites). It is now a system whereby users PULL the data they want, and then use those same systems to push information back through their networks.
Networks that are far more likely to engage with the content because of the credibility of the users is far higher than that of a corporation, particularly when those networks identify and engage on an issue where they feel their “Community” has been wronged. “Community” being a key word here, because even if virtual and/ or manufactured to such a degree that those in the community have never met, there is a bond within the community that firms have long identified as the key to engaging the group… but is only felt in its full force typically when the community is compelled to act in defense of the “community”.
A force that many came to fully understand during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, whereby a number of large brands were made or broken depending upon the size of their donation, and whether or not the “community” that existed on the bulletin boards of Baidu and Sohu felt firms were given too little… or in the case of Wahaha, were heroes to the people.
For firms it should have been a moment whereby time and money should have been invested to better understand where their risks lie within this community. How issues of importance became important, and what the impact would be if the brand fell behind the industry’s curve. Sadly, it was not a moment that the brands took the time to learn, and while many still continue to focus on writing CSR reports, the vast majority are seeing increased risks that come with failing to engage the mobile masses.