[updated December 2017]
Did you know that 7 out of the top 10 websites in the world are social networks?
The top 25 social media sites, including names such as Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat, deliver in excess of 2 billion users each month. That’s a seriously large audience.
But are social media networks just the current flavour-of-the-month, or is there something here that a business such as yours can leverage commercial opportunity?
Social Networks Aren’t A Fad
The growth of social media networks seems to be a natural response to the way that consumers have changed the way that they use the web. A few years ago web users were happy to be a passive audience, sitting back and watching web content suppliers ‘push’ information to them.
Today, consumers increasingly want to take that control themselves. They want to decide how, what and where they access their content; and create, compile and customise their experiences to deliver them to their friends, colleagues – or even complete strangers. Social networks haven’t so much changed consumer behavior, as liberated it. There’s nothing inherently ‘new’ or ‘different’ around the use of social networks. People have been talking to each other about topics that matter to them since the dawn of time. The differences that social networks empower are based upon speed, and reach.
That’s the real power – and reason for the popularity – of social networks. They’re allowing people to do what they’ve always done – but far faster, and across greater distances. Fundamentally social network sites and applications give consumers the ability to choose. To choose what they want to spend their time with, who they want to interact with and how they would like to communicate.
Advertising – or even developing applications – within social media networks offers numerous commercial opportunities. The level of user profiling within social media sites allows a company to reach unique audiences, not only based upon traditional criteria such as demography (age, gender, etc.) or geography (country, state, city); but new targeting groups such as appography (social media groups) and sociography (based upon friend data). However, be aware that the level of audience segment granularity may change, as the legislation such as GDPR will force advertising platforms such as Facebook to reconsider their current models.
Social Network Marketing Requires Effort. Lots of Effort
95% of businesses quit their social networking efforts within 12 months. The main reason they give is because they don’t see a positive tangible business result. Most marketers and business owners will put this down to social marketing being some kind of Kings New Clothes con. They’ll conclude that social media doesn’t work when, in reality, their failure is rooted in the fact they’re treating social networking as an advertising medium.
If you’re looking for your social networking efforts to bring you gazillions of sales, then you’re going to be disappointed. Social networking might produce the occasional sale, but the time and effort to get there is nowhere close to what you’ve been told. Once you factor-in the time and effort involved in creating and maintaining a real, engaging and reactive social networking presence for your business, you’ll find much there are many higher-converting alternatives.
The reason why your social networking efforts aren’t producing the results you’d hoped are two-fold: You’re doing it wrong, and you’re measuring it wrong.
Social Networking For Brands Isn’t The Same As For People
Time and time again we’ll see a brand simply blasting-out links to content talking about how great they are. Is it any wonder no-one’s liking, sharing, or replying? Customers don’t care about you, your company, or even your product or service. They care about brands who care about them. That means finding and (increasingly) creating content that either informs, educates, or entertains. Anything else isn’t going to get noticed.
If your potential customers use a social media network – which, with the number of networks out there, must be the case – then what are you doing to reach them?