The significance of Social Media can no longer be underestimated, surely? Recently, I was privy to a conversation about hostility in using Social Media - what I know to be one of the most powerful PR tools available across all industries. I’m not sure whether it’s a reluctance to move with the times, or whether certain groups feel it’s still a ‘fad’ - but there’s still an evident resistance.
Social Media ensures that reaching consumers with your marketing message couldn’t be easier - be it at home or on the go. You can reach millions of people in a matter of seconds, no waiting around for your press release to drop or for your latest brand coverage to reach your audience. Just look at the explosion of photo-sharing site Pinterest, the first standalone site to exceed the 50 million unique monthly visitors mark.
3 years ago social media was the future, today it’s the now - the destination of choice for anybody who wants to know more about a brand/company/organisation. It is much more than just a media outlet – it’s a cultural shift, an innate human relationship – its connecting and communicating abilities are not wants; they’re needs. It’s woven into our very genetic code. This is a new era in which companies HAVE to change the way they interact with their customers.
Your consumer can connect with your brand directly, faster than ever before. To stay relevant and credible in the digital age, a strong marketing campaign is no longer enough to turn the passive browser into an active customer. On top of this, customers are branching out from the Social Media mainstays Facebook and Twitter and into Pinterest, Instagram, Polyvore, Vine, Snapchat… if you’re not utilising Social, you’re already more behind than you think. It’s fast-paced, exciting and rich - with the freshest possible content you choose to deliver (What are you waiting for?!) Whenever possible, users are looking to personalise their experience more than ever.
To say that the goalposts continue to move would be a grave understatement - therefore, the need to adapt is urgent. So what does all this mean for the future of traditional marketing? How can businesses adjust to deal with an increasingly demanding consumer? Give your customer what they want, they’re on Social Media - there’s no doubt.
Let’s look at some figures:
72% of all internet users are now active on social media
18-29 year olds have an 89% usage
The 30-49 bracket sits at 72%
60 percent of 50 to 60 year olds are active on social media
In the 65 plus bracket, 43% are using social media
71% of users access social media from a mobile device.
The paradigm of social media only being used by the younger generation should be put to rest now.
It’s little wonder that 80% of small businesses are using Social Media as part of their marketing mix, so what about the other 20%? Let’s get one thing straight - Social Media is not the be-all and end-all for your business. But if your brand is not embracing Social Media in all its forms, then there is a chance that you may miss the train and probably won’t be able to get back on.
Marketing Sociologist, Richard Kelleher has witnessed this resistance first-hand and predicted 2014 would be the year the marketer needed to wake up:
“Companies will wake up to 21st Century marketing. That “social media” is not push marketing like advertising on television, but building societies. In 2006, I was thrown out of forward thinking marketers’ offices for saying, “You need a MySpace and YouTube presence.” They wanted press releases. Today I am thrown out of forward thinking marketers’ offices for saying, “You need QR codes and mobile sites.” Today those forward thinking marketers want SEO. SEO? That’d be like wanting press releases in 2006. Social media will be the major way to build brands – but that was 2008. Marketers will wake up to that around 2014.”
Let Social Media excite you, develop it into your traditional marketing methods - this interconnectivity will force your brand to re-think how you can relate with your users in fresh and exciting ways. With a myriad of platforms to choose from, don’t get bogged down in the humdrum of picking where you put your best content. Even early adopters of Social Media are having to refocus their universal social strategies and decide which platforms support their core marketing initiatives.
One thing is for sure, the future of Social Media is certain to offer up many exciting, new opportunities for brands and businesses to connect with their customers. Act swiftly! Rethink your future strategies, shifting most - if not all of your marketing efforts towards engaging with customers and aligning your business objectives with your social. There no risk to be taken here, reach out to your customers and market to them in a caring, attentive and personal fashion. Make them feel valued - that’s just good customer service! It’s even more important however, to understand that meaningful brand experience effectively creates customers, and this not only matters to customers – it drives the very core of your business.