Social media: Fad or Revolution?

by Tania Wannenburg
Social media feature Jnl 2 15

Find out why social media is not a passing fad and how businesses can make the time to cash in on the benefits of social media.

Social media is no longer a fad. It’s no longer a shift in the way one communicates or markets – in fact social media today is a shift in the way one lives. As Erik Qualman, who spawned the Socialnomics movement, so aptly puts it, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is, how well do we do it?”

The words “fad” and “no time” are often attached to the concept of social media, especially in organisations. The business world cannot expect to survive in a fast-paced, technologically advanced world without actively participating in, and strategising on, social media practices.

To demonstrate exactly why social media is not a fad, the following statistics reveal some interesting facts:
•    96% of Millennials have joined a social network.
•    Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the USA.
•    Years to reach 50 million users:
o    Radio = 38 years
o    TV = 13 Years
o    Internet = 4 years
o    iPod = 3 years
o    Facebook = over 200 million users added in LESS than a year
•    80% of companies use social media for recruitment (95% of these from LinkdIn)
•    50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook. Imagine what this means for bad customer experiences.
•    Wikipedia has over 15 million articles. Studies show it is as accurate as Encyclopaedia Britannica.
•    25% of search results for world’s Top 20 largest brands return user-generated content from review sites, blogs, and social media updates.
•    34% of bloggers post opinions on products and brands.

These statistics support Erik Qualman’s contention that the Return on Investment (ROI) of Social Media is that a business will still exist in five years. Individuals will no longer search for products and services, but rather those products and services will find them via social media.

Even though social media plays a critical role, it should be noted that it still forms part of a greater marketing strategy. An iProspect study showed that 67% of online searches are still driven by offline messages (traditional media) and, as such, an integrated marketing plan needs to be deployed accordingly. Simply put, the debate is no longer print versus digital, but rather print combined with digital for the best overall results, for both clients and readers.

All of the above statistics and debates reinforce how social media’s infiltration has moved beyond a so-called passing fad into a significant development that has been so astounding that it has been referred to as the biggest shift since the industrial revolution.

Finding time for social media

Many businesses may wonder where to find the time for social media, particularly in flooring. Research has shown that these industry players often bring it up during presentations and conversations about digital marketing, how to be most easily found online, and embracing new marketing habits. Finding the time for social media is a must as it enables businesses to engage in how prospective customers connect, interact and gather information.

Taking part in social networks has become much easier with smartphones. This access portal is carried with individuals at all times, enabling them to be social and interact in between other activities, building relationships and deciding on whom to trust enough to do business with.

The question still arises, “How does one find time during a busy day to engage online and with social media?” Firstly, one will always find time for social activities if they provide tangible benefits.

Here are a few options:
•    Respond to customer service questions on Google+ so that there’s a record of one’s commitment to customers.
•    Show how flooring installations are done, track before-and-after pictures and share them on Pinterest or Facebook.
•    Keep an evergreen list of customers’ frequently asked questions and one’s responses on a business website in an FAQ or blog articles. Share links to those pages on Twitter.

Once a commitment has been made to make the time, spend it in two manners: namely initial setup; and ongoing account management. For setup, be prepared with logos, images and consistent company descriptions. For ongoing account management, prepare a content calendar and regularly publish updates.

As important as it is for a business to have a presence online and in social networks, it’s not possible to be on every single social media platform in existence and then expect to still be effective. Resources, including time, are limited, so it is important to pick based on where one’s customers spend their time and then focus one’s attention on doing those new platforms really well.

As a business professional, be sure to complete a profile on LinkedIn. Have company representatives do the same; create a company description that they can include in their profiles. Also be sure to claim the company’s Google+ Local as it’s tied up to map results. Thereafter, experiment with other social networks to determine which is best for one’s business using Google Analytics.

Turning to tools that can assist in managing time for social media, there are fortunately several available to assist. Be on the lookout for applets and bookmarklets to Pin or share interesting links. Consider using Hootsuite and HubSpot which has an amazing social monitoring tool. For Twitter chats, TweetChat is ideal.

Although social media takes place on technical devices, the activity and interaction have to do with being social. The more one as an individual and as an organisation considers the implications, the better prepared one will be.

Here are some guidelines for success on social media:
•    Create social media guidelines for one’s organisation so that everyone understands how to participate on social networks on behalf of one’s organisation and how to interact with customers.
•    Participate regularly and consistently in social media.
•    Develop a content calendar that includes images, videos and sample updates. Customers are a valuable source of content ideas, and reflect on all the questions that they ask.
•    Have a goal for social interactions, which aligns with one’s business goals.

The amount of information available on the web regarding social media and how businesses can flourish when implementing practical action steps is astounding. Statistics on brand successes due to social media campaigns abound online, which will undoubtedly highlight and motivate any business in any industry to embrace the world of social media, to understand its impact on an organisation, and to make the necessary time to participate in it, both as an organisation and as an individual.

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to www.socialnomics.net; www.simplemarketingnow.com; and www.slideshare.net (Business) for the information contained in this article.

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