Social media is an extraordinary phenomenon. It has now overtaken traditional media (such as TV and Print) in terms of generating interest and driving sales for both smaller businesses and giant organisations. It has also created an entirely new targeted and bi-directional (two-way) approach to reach customers, manage events and share media.
That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your business is currently geared towards making the most of these innovations, and employing one person (Such as a Social Media Manager) won’t necessarily change the businesses approach in a way that will immediately increase the sales and profitability of a company. Like all new things, while the potential for success is higher, it often requires change and growth to succeed – which can come with it’s own downsides.
Many companies have not yet realised that not all businesses who try this approach will get to share in the potential wealth that comes from digital media, especially social media engagement. In fact many companies have been happy to hope that these changes only bring good developments and not too much change. Much like having a shop on the high street does not guarantee high sales, having social media does not guarantee high engagement.
If companies do want to embrace the required changes, and take advantage of the benefits of the far greater audience attainable through Social Media, then they must begin by asking themselves a series of questions: Which is the right platform for me to get a return on my investment? What can I do, today, that will start me on the right track to improve? What do I actually want (and not want) from my users? How do I track my level of success, and spot failures quickly?
The idea of working out exactly what goals to achieve, learning the best industry practices and then using a trial and error approach to sustain success in the long term can be a challenging exercise. Sometimes a business can have a burst of great success, but find it hard to replicate or get worried that they are not seeing the right level of consistency from their approach.
Often businesses will try to diversify and test out other platforms which may have little or no effect. This comes from a fundamental understanding about what exactly Social Media, especially in terms of business, is and how it may be used effectively.
What is Social Media? (Exactly)Social Media classifies any public digital platform that allows for highly visible communications between individuals or by business entities. These platforms are typically used for engagement (ie. To initiate discussion or interest around a particular topic), to promote specific products to a target group and to leverage images to capture people’s attention.
Understanding Your Company’s problem
The truth is that unless your company is based in retail, hospitality, media (news), phone apps, recruitment or centre around a creative discipline of some sort (especially one that young people like to talk about such as fashion) then the likelihood is that, for the most part, your company is boring. (Sorry!)
In other words, unless you are in one of these fields it can be more tricky to generate interest because you are asking people to divert away from their specific purpose. In business terms it is a bit like selling live chickens at a fish market – people have purposefully gone there to buy fish. Even if it does the same job essentially, you have to be aware that success may not be about your work or dedication, but rather a misunderstanding of context.
You are also likely to annoy people.
If you try telling people that your dog ate your shoes on Linkedin or tell people that you are certified in Dog training on Twitter then you aren’t going to receive the benefits of the platform. People won’t necessarily tell you that you are using it wrong, but similarly you won’t see anything from it either.
Social Media platforms tend to naturally gravitate around particular areas – for example Reddit is hyper focused on current events and Twitter is about specific people’s reactions. While a more natural approach won’t always guarantee success, if you are looking to move into a domain then it often helps to ensure your content is focused on that goal to get the most from the platform:
Retail – Amazon, Google, Pinterest
Hospitality / Food – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google
Recruitment – Linkedin, Glassdoor, Facebook
Phone Apps – Youtube, Apple, Google Play, Linkedin
Creativity / Celebrity – Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Instagram
Media – Reddit, Quora
The second key consideration is demographics.
Adults aged 18-34 comprise 95% of the people who follow brands via social media sites.
83% of female internet users have a Social Media Profile.
Female internet users are more likely to use Instagram than men, at 38% vs. 26%.
81% of millennials view their Twitter account on a daily basis.
Some Eye-opening Social Media Facts
1 billion hours of video are watched daily on YouTube. 67 percent of people watch video from brands and businesses, while 65 percent watch videos from celebrities and influencers.
In 2012, the average internet user had three social media accounts – now the average is closer to seven accounts.
Over 50 million SMBs use Facebook Pages to connect with their customers. And 4 million of those (around 8 percent) pay for social media advertising on Facebook. Surveys show that 46% of social media users will unfollow a brand for posting too many promotional messages.
UK marketers are willing to pay influencers more than £75,000 for a single Facebook post mentioning their brand. This figure varies depending on the sector, with some premium fashion marketers willing to pay an eye-watering £160,000 per post.
Top brands on Instagram are seeing a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21% which is 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter
78% of people who complain to or about a brand on Twitter expect a response from the brand within one hour.
The average LinkedIn user spends 17 minutes on the site per month. 94% B2B organizations rely on LinkedIn for content marketing and distribution.
93% of Pinterest users use the platform to make purchases or plan future purchases. Pinterest drives an astounding 25% of all retail website referral traffic!
For the vast majority of companies, this causes a rather large issue.
Can my Social Media Manager Solve My Companys Problems?
If structured properly, Social Media can play a pivotal role in the strategy to grow business and introduce a host of customer-focused changes.
The most important roles social media can play are more in regards to brand identity.
- See recent activity
- See reviews
- Talk directly to a company
If, however, your target is purely sales to an audience that is older, predominantly male, and more centred around professional services, then not only is the pool of targets much smaller, but they use social media platforms less and do not tend to use platforms which convert into B2B sales.
In truth, while social media has certainly made more noise than anything else, the older methods of winning new business still comes from emails. The Global NGO Technology Report (a survey of over 5,000 non-profits), found that email is still the most powerful tool to gain support. So, if you’ve got limited marketing resources, email marketing should be your number one and social media marketing should be your number two.