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If you’re like most people, you’re already on Facebook; at least have a Twitter account, even if you’ve not tweeted; and maybe even maintain a professional profile on LinkedIn. Are you using them though to help you grow your business? We must receive more than five emails a day from experts claiming to be able to boost our sales through a proactive social media marketing strategy.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

There can be no denying that social media is making a big impact. Facebook now has over 750million registered users worldwide and Twitter has 200million. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is said to now have over 100million members and after its recent launch, Google already claims to have 20million on Google+. If we include video in social media, YouTube exceeds 2billion views a day, has 24hours of video uploaded every minute and is available in 24 languages and across 22 countries.  Impressive stats!

Even the Government has realised the power of social media networks over recent weeks, with David Cameron investigating ways to stop criminality and violence being organised via these sites in response to the recent riots. Easier said than done I’m sure and that’s another topic.

So, while most of us now have personal profiles on these networks and are familiar with the benefits of them on an individual level, businesses have also been waking up to the opportunities these same networks bring. According to more statistics, they’re using social media pretty well:

  • 41% of B2B companies and 67% of B2C companies have acquired a customer through Facebook
  • Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic
  • 51% of Facebook fans are more likely to buy the brands they fan
  • 79% of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend the brands they follow
  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing
  • 9 out of 10 Internet users visited a social networking site each month in 2010

And, if we look to the US, 79 of the Fortune 100 listed companies are now said to be using social media as a major channel for their marketing and communications.

What’s holding business owners back from social media then?

Despite the impressive figures and the arguments for social media, there still remain a huge number of companies that haven’t ventured into using social media to grow their business. In our view this comes down to three key things. The first is a fear of the unknown. It’s all very well and good creating your own personal page but when you put your business out there who knows what response you will get? If you’ve ever read the posts on an online public forum or comparison/rating site, you’ll have seen that its anonymity can be a catalyst fornegative messages that can be difficult to manage. Unfortunately it’s often much easier to leave a negative review online than it is to phone a company, speak to a staff member and complain in person. However, that’s a defeatist attitude and one that should be replaced with the realisation that social media is an excellent way to get close to your customers, tell them what you’d like them to know and invite them to share their ideas about how you might improve to make them even more loyal.

Secondly, there’s the question of resources. Social networks thrive on constantly updated, relevant and recent content and that can take a lot of time and energy. Staff resources are often already stretched and so it can be difficult to allocate the required manpower to something like this especially when, for many companies, social media marketing is focused more on long term profile raising than a direct selling or lead generation tool.

Finally, we have the non-believers. Believe it or not, there remain some who think social networking is all just hype that will fade away in a year or two when we all get bored of it. They don’t see the point in wasting time and effort maintaining Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and prefer instead to stick to more traditional methods of communication such as email and even the letter. If you’re one of those, here’s an interesting statistic to chew on – 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email they previously opted-in to.

Have you included social media in your business growth plan?

The fact of the matter is, more and more businesses are developing social media marketing strategies and creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter et al. If you’ve not yet considered the potential power of social media, you can bet that several of your competitors will have and they’re probably already using these new platforms to communicate with your target market. Why not run a simple search across each of the social networks for each of your key competitors. They may or may not be doing things well but if they’re there and you’re not, they’re one step ahead nonetheless.

Don’t tell others to do what you’re not doing yourself is a good ethos to have – Entanet has joined the realms of the social marketers and has a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/entanet), twitter feed (@entanet), a LinkedIn company page (http://www.linkedin.com/company/entanet-international-ltd) and also a group page. We’ve also been running this opinion website since September 2008. Via these platforms we aim to keep our followers up to date on latest product launches, announcements and events; we provide links to our latest blog posts and press releases, upload photos, gather feedback via polls and much more. Yes it’s time consuming. Yes it’s hard work sometimes. But we embraced social media because we think it provides businesses with new channels of communication, often channels that users are more open to and opt-in to and we believe it’s providing us with valuable opportunities.

Have your say!

What do you think? Is social media marketing just hype or do you think it provides businesses with new communication channels and real opportunities? Have you embraced social media or are you a non-believer, focused on more traditional marketing methods? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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2 Responses to “Social Media Marketing: All hype or here to stay?”

  1. I would have thought that most of the people would fall into category 2, lack of time. I know this is the case with us, we do have company profiles out there but finding someone who has the time to update them on a regular basis is a task in it’s self!
    If you do have an entry and it is static (like ours) it will probably do more bad than good.

  2. Too true Karl. Unfortunately for many businesses the same is also true of their marketing in general. I’ve helped a lot of business owners understand they can’t afford to ignore marketing, even though it requires an ongoing commitment. If you think about it though, keeping your social media presence up to date can start simply by posting any news you’ve announced (e.g. by press release). It doesn’t have to be exhaustive either, just a few lines sometimes. It does need to be relevant though of course.

    We’re by no means social media experts ourselves and have a lot to learn. That first starts with simple steps.

    So get back to updating http://facebook.com/vivaciti and making the most of LinkedIn et al 🙂

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