In 2004 Mark Zuckerberg created the original Facebook, known as Facemash, as a way of comparing students at Harvard University in a “Hot or Not” competition. For the first two years of its existence, Facebook was limited to American Universities, and eventually institutions all over the world. On September 26, 2006, it was opened to the public – as long as you had an email address and were over the age of thirteen. Facebook now has 1 billion active monthly members.
Twitter was also launched in 2006 and has since then been used from the International Space Station, as well as right here on earth where, in December 2012, it recorded over 200 million monthly users.
LinkedIn has been around since 2003 as a professional social platform and now boasts 178.4 million users across the globe; Pinterest was launched in 2010 and now has 70 million users worldwide; Google jumped on the bandwagon in 2011 and is currently the second largest social networking site, with 500 million registered users.
In less than a decade, social networking has evolved from a platform on which friends and family could stay connected to an incredibly powerful portal through which businesses can interact with their customers.
Social networking has changed the face of marketing.
Technology is not doing anything to assist us mere mortals to keep up with the trends, either. Facebook recently announced that 78% of US users are on mobile devices: that’s a whole other aspect to add to our marketing strategies.
Youtube is yet another platform that, with over 1 billion users, has changed the way people interact with, and learn about, companies, products and services.
It’s time to change the way we think
Radical repositioning refers to making major changes to a product or service to ensure it meets the changing needs of the consumer. Well, marketing as a service AND as a product needs to go through some radical repositioning.
Early adopter Dell, who took to the social network skies in 2009, has reported sales of US$6.5 million through its Twitter account. The scope for business growth, leveraged by social influence, is exponential.
Even though the platforms might change, and the benefits they offer might be different, not making use of the power these sites provide will eventually leave you floundering.
Take small steps towards social media success
Now, I know it can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to use social media to advance your business. I really do know! As a content marketer it is my job to use these sites, and the amount of reading and learning that has to be done to keep on top of things leaves barely enough time to do the actual work. However, you must start somewhere, and you might find that, over time, you will be able to drop those networks that don’t work so well for you.
For now, pick one, two if you think you can, and start sharing content; your content and that of other influencers in your industry. As you start to build a following, you need to start interacting with those people whose imagination you’ve sparked. It is a social platform after all.
As you start to build authority in terms of the reach of your influence, people will begin to trust your brand. And the rest is, well, a bright and shining future.
Keep it real
One of the problems many of our clients have mentioned is that the virtual marketplace is taking the human element out of business life. I disagree. Maintaining personal contact with your followers and interacting in person with your clients stands you in stead with a far better chance of success than leaving it all up to automated responses.
What it comes down to is this: while it is still a young industry, content marketing and social influencing are the way of the future. You must start to use social media marketing now so that by the time it is ‘the done thing’ you are not left out in the cold with no knowledge of how the system works. There is an almost limitless bank of information online that can help you to achieve your goals, as well as any number of early adopters who are eager to walk you through the hoops, if you prefer.
How about you? How much use do you make use of social media to connect with your customers and deliver excellent service? Are you running with the early adopters, or is it all still a little bit Greek to you? Let us know in the comments, and keep an eye on our blog in the upcoming weeks for tips and tricks to make it easy for you to make the most of the wide array of options social media offers your business.