Social media is a collection of technologies that allow us to share information with each other, and these technologies are changing at a rapid pace. In fact, with respect to social media, change is now the norm. Social media is the #1 activity on the web, and it has changed the way we interact with each other. To put things in perspective, it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, television 13 years, the internet 4 years, iPod 3 years, and Facebook only took 9 months to reach 100 million users (Qualman, 2013, n.p.)!
Consider these interesting statistics from Eric Qualman’s Social Media Revolution video:
- LinkedIn is now used by 80% of companies to find employees.
- 80% of Twitter use is conducted on mobile devices.
- 200,000,000 blogs exist today and 54% of bloggers post or tweet every day.
- 34% of bloggers post opinions on brands and products.
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements.
- Newspapers are experiencing rapid circulation declines.
- More than 1.5 million pieces of content are shared daily on Facebook.
What does this mean for businesses? These statistics show that there has been a massive transference of power to the customer, and now more than ever, companies need to engage with their customers. Social media has transformed the way we connect with each other both personally and professionally. It allows us to share our thoughts, opinions, experiences, and ideas with the world. Customers are educating themselves and forming opinions about brands by listening to what others have to say. They are comparing prices, rating products, and writing reviews online about their experiences. Businesses can’t afford to ignore social media.
Is technology or human behavior responsible?
This shift in power is due to a collaboration of both technology and human behavior. As humans, we have an inherent need to connect with each other. Advances in technology have fueled this need and allowed us to connect instantaneously on a global basis. Li and Bernoff (2011) suggest, “The groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies. If you’re a company, this is a challenge” (p. xii).
What are the future implications for businesses with regard to social media?
Social media relates to all business functions, and as more and more companies adopt it as a way to engage customers, they must allocate dedicated resources to ensure its integration with the overall business strategy and success.
Start with a plan
For a social media program to be successful, a strategy plan should be created. The social media strategy goals should align with the business objectives, and should be integrated into the company’s communications strategy.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Measuring return on investment (ROI) will become more important for businesses to understand the effectiveness of a social media program. Measurement will also help businesses determine whether to allocate resources and learn which campaigns are successful and which are not. The key to successful measurement is to “be precise, and measure what matters. Start with your objectives and work your way back into metrics that support these objectives” (Blanchard, 2011, p. 196).
Social media is changing at an alarming rate. Businesses must stay abreast of new tools and technologies to keep current. Continual assessment of strategy against goals and cusotmer needs is critical to success (Baruch, 2013, n.p.).
Employees as brand amabassadors
As social media becomes a more prominent force in communicating with customers, businesses will need to tap into and nurture the groundswell within their organization. Management and employees have one thing in common: the success of the business (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 234). Your employees are your brand ambassadors. Let them spread your message. For successful social media integration, businesses must train employees in all departments on how to engage with customers and enhance their experience. Zappos is a great example of a business taking a progressive approach to social media. Staying true to its commitment to empowered employees, Zappos encourages its employees to engage with customers through Twitter (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 205). In fact, Bullas (2009) notes that “nearly 400 employees on Twitter help keep the company’s profile high and humanizes the folks behind the shoe sales” (n.p).
A crisis management plan is a must
Years ago businesses had a wider window to plan a response to a crisis. Today, social media has narrowed that response time from hours to minutes (Agresta & Bough, 2011, p. 106). Businesses can’t ignore the fact that crises are inevitable, whether it is due to a malfunctioning product, an employee posting an inappropriate comment or image, or a bad review. They must have a disaster plan in place and be ready to deal with a crisis immediately.
Can you think of other implications businesses will face in the future relating to social media?
Agresta, S., Bough, B. (2011). Perspectives on social media marketing. Boston, MA: Course Technology, a part of Cengage Learning.
Baruch, Y. (2013). Assessment and evaluation of social media strategy. [PDF document]. University of Southern New HampshireRetrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web Site: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1134013-dt-content-rid-1095373_1/xid-1095373_1
Blanchard, O. (2011). Social Media ROI. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.