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Did Social Media Smash the CB Radio industry?

CB Radio

By now, you’ve probably seen the following image floating around your Facebook or Twitter feed: It’s a screengrab of a screenshot of a tweet that reads “CB Radio is dead.” The tweet itself is also now gone, either deleted or removed to help preserve the mystery. But the fact that it’s both funny and true is what makes it so much fun to share!

The reason why social media is so different from CB radio is that it encourages real-time interaction. (On the other hand, how many times have you shared something on social media and then never heard anything back?)

Even though this image has been shared countless times since last week, it still manages to resonate with people. While specialized online CB stores such as the Walcott Radio Shop are on the rise, people want to be part of something that feels like it was made just for them; they want to be recognized for contributing to the conversation, and they want participation to be easy. This major shift in communication styles has caused a fundamental change in the strategy and effectiveness of marketing and advertising and has introduced a host of new challenges and opportunities.

Here are six areas to consider:

Advertising Has Changed:

Today, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., are our biggest brands’ new “walls”. These digital bulletin boards are where many of us assemble online to chat about the latest trends, products, news, ideas and entertainment. With this shift, brands are also rethinking traditional advertising strategies that placed billboards along major roads or had TV commercials that ran during popular shows designed to interrupt our daily lives.

You Can’t Hide Any More.

With social media comes transparency — and nothing scares a customer more than seeing a business make a mistake and getting called out for it. But there is a flip side: every business mistake or slip up can also be used as an opportunity for two-way communication and engagement. Customers feel heard and valued when you respond and react quickly, openly and positively to their comments.

Social media has become the new CB Radio, so pay attention to it — or do so at your peril.

A few years ago, if you wanted to learn what was going on in your neighbourhood, you’d have your choice of two places: CB Radio or word of mouth. Today, the neighbourhood is everyones. And while social media is often viewed as some mystical new-age force, its power lies in something pretty old-school — word of mouth.

The daily number of conversations on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other messaging apps has surpassed the number of conversations held on the telephone or CB radios. More people are talking with their neighbours on social media than there are talking with their actual neighbours. While this seems like an obvious statement, it underscores an important point that many businesses miss when considering how to compete in today’s social marketplace.

The medium is not the message; it’s what you do with it.

A while back, the internet spawned a meme that proclaimed, “The medium is the message.” The idea behind it was that the content of a message is meaningless without the medium used to carry it. For example, if you use your CB radio to send an important message about the Amber Alert for a missing child, it will be ignored by anyone not tuning in to CB radio at that time.

Social media is all about interruption.

You are bombarded with 40% positive, 10% negative, and 50% neutral messages if you are an individual. Interruption is at the core of social media. Social media is like CB Radio but without the 50-mile range. It’s like the CB Radio days of Gen-X looking for their 15 minutes, but without driving to the desert or enduring five hours of stooges.

Social media is not the CB radio. Shouting into the void will get you zero response.

There’s a certain nostalgia for the CB radio, but its functionality was so limited. If I wanted to talk to every member of the CB community, I needed to press the transmit button and say “hi” using the whole 27-character alphabet. Likewise, there’s an equal sense of nostalgia for social media based on the inherent nostalgia for any rapidly changing technology. The CB radio craze of the late 1970s and early 1980s turns 40 years old this month, and the technology is as relevant as ever. But instead of nostalgia, we must focus on the social media evolution and use our new tools to do the same thing: Connect people.

We’ve evolved how we communicate and share narratives from the CB radio to the smartphone, the cell tower and the WiFi router. Put: the medium is not the message; it’s what you do with it. We believe in defining mediums not by what they are but by what we can do with them.

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