With the growing importance of social media, the world has begun to change the way it looks at sales, marketing, and even friendship.

Let’s consider a few facts: The average Facebook user has 130 friends1, and the average Twitter user follows [roughly] 100 people (and has nearly as many followers). Many of these friends and followers share similar interests and likes to that first original person. And, most important, many of these followers trust the opinion and recommendations of the people they watch. With this in mind, those who see that their friends “like” something, be it a show, a brand, or an organization increase the visibility of this item, and increase mindshare as a result. Because these users trust their friends’ recommendations, they will be more apt to follow the recommendation.

With this in mind, it’s clear that these outlets are the greatest source of word-of-mouth traffic in the modern era. It is pretty apparent that this has become a major role in today’s industry, as FUNimation maintains an in-house Social Media expert (Justin Rojas), to keep relations with their customers in the popular venues, and Sentai Filmworks and Bandai keep staff monitoring the feeds. The ideal of this action is that Companies can engage customers directly, provide instant feedback, and do more to make new customers, while keeping the core market happy.

Of course, This is on top of employees’ personal presences on Facebook and Twitter themselves.

Ideally, these new moves to keep the customer engaged will result in mindshare and possibly a Like (or ReTweet). Mindshare is ever-important, as a customer will always look forward to purchasing from those who pleases him. And, in the marketplace, the customer is king. The Like is important as well, though. A fan who purchases a show like, say, Eden of the East, enjoys it, and Likes it on Facebook will expose all 130 friends to the title in some form or another. If, even ten of these people purchase the show, and only five more like it, that would be eleven sales and up to 780 unique exposures to the product from just one customer.

In a small market like anime, exposure of this level is an important asset. It creates interest and curiosity from those who may not have seen (or heard of) the show at hand, and it creates an environment where potentially smaller titles like Sentai Filmworks’s upcoming Ice have a chance to be discussed and even thrive in a comfortable (and profitable) niche.

…Of course, this can also have the bad-case of little to no effect. After all – a show like Magical Meow Meow Taruto won’t move any more units than it already has, since the show has incredibly limited appeal to begin with (also, it’s a show about catgirl midget slaves. That alone says volumes!). In the worst cases, a bad experience (like, say, a snarky customer service rep, or a rude social media employee) could drive customers AWAY, thanks to the advent of applications like Gripe. For the uninitiated, Gripe is an application that sends out a Tweet and/or Facebook wall post when a person has a negative customer experience, or a positive one, that encourages people to either praise or condemn the offending business.

Word of mouth is an old concept. However, the influence of the one person is becoming far more relevant, and far broader with each passing day. With just one click of a mouse, one can tell his circle of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people that they enjoy a product, and customers can be created at the click. For anime fans, and the anime industry, this is an exciting time, as we’re seeing new doors open and new avenues come to light. How they will be traversed though, is anybody’s guess.

1: Kerpen, Dave. Likeable Social Media

To put this to the test, why not Like this page and watch the potential impact unfold?