Social networks are about sharing. Sharing your highs and lows, daily life, holiday snaps, everyday snaps. For a business, social media allows you to share your products, knowledge, and client love. Then hopefully others will share it out to their own network of friends and contacts to help your business grow.
Where I think it works best is in building relationships with customers when you don’t normally get face-to-face contact. One of the truths in selling is that “people buy from people”. If you run a bricks-and-mortar shopfront, you get to sell face to face with people coming in to your store. If your store is all ecommerce, the best way to build rapport and get some personal interaction with your online customers is via social media.
It takes time to build your following and for your followers to really begin to interact with you. You need to consistently be posting/engaging/adding value to build a relationship where, really, you don’t know each other.
Then just because you collect 1000 Likes on Facebook, doesn’t mean you have 1000 people actually transacting with your business. Social Media is primarily a “social” network so it’s not meant to be used purely for advertising and marketing. Instead, it’s an opportunity to entertain them, educate them, share with them. Or in other words, keep in touch.
If you’re not convinced that you’ll have an audience, this YouTube video might change your mind:
Use of Social Media in Australia
As you’ll see in the video above (and elsewhere) there are a lot of staggering stats around about the huge numbers of people on social media. Let’s look more closely at its usage in Australia.
According to the September 2013 Sensis E-Business Report, 69% of Australians use social networking sites (up 7% from 2012) and the 2013 Yellow Social Media Report shows that 45% use social media on a daily basis.
But take a reality check: the Yellow Report reveals that while 94% of people using social media do so to catch up with family & friends, only 35% use it to follow brands. Mind you, that figure is up from 25% the previous year, perhaps because businesses are starting to learn how to attract attention.
If you’re still thinking that social media sounds like too much hard work and not enough like hard results, keep this in mind (from the book “No Bullshit Social Media” by Jason Falls and Erik Deckers):
“People who ignore social media because they think the fad is over are just treading water while their competition swims by them.”
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The Sensis report highlights the growing use of social media by small business in Australia – from 10% in 2010, 18% in 2011, 27% in 2012, to 35% in 2013. The majority of these are on Facebook, followed some way off by Twitter (which seems to have lost a lot of Aussie users in the past year), LinkedIn (growing), YouTube, Blogging and Google+ (15% now use it, up from 8% in 2012).
Who wins with Social Media?
Some businesses obviously fare better than others, depending on what they have to offer. Or give away, as you can see from the following…
Social media marketing works most effectively when you have an audience that repeatedly does business with you, or who come to you for further knowledge, ideas, education and entertainment.
Take real estate as an example of an industry with a low level of repeat business. They’ve moved online very successfully for marketing properties. But they’ve found little value in using social media, according to a 2012 survey by REIV of 600 real estate agents in Victoria. (Although there was some suggestion that it came down to their strategy – just tweeting that a property has sold isn’t going to engage a large audience.)
The 2013 Yellow Social Media Report reveals some of the industries in Australia which do best on Facebook and Twitter:
In case you’re concerned about negativity on social media, no SMEs reported any negative impact from social media, while 48% reported a positive impact. The main positive feedback reported from SMEs included “good customer feedback, increased sales and good advertising opportunities”.
That makes it sound worthwhile, don’t you think?