Strategic engagement: harnessing the power of social media

Prediction: 90% of your sales will come from word of mouth or digital promotion by 2011. How do you change what you’re doing today to be ready for that?”

-  Seth Godin, April 20, 2009

Social media continues to galvanise. Within just one week, Susan Boyle’s  performance on a UK talent show generated more than 16 million views on YouTube, numerous Facebook pages and groups, and was the top conversation topic on Twitter. The speed and reach of this exposure was never before possible prior to the Internet and social media.

How is social media relevant to your business?

For businesses contemplating whether to explore this new realm follows is some further food for thought.

 What is social media?

Social media emerged with the advent of ‘Web 2.0’ – the internet’s ‘second generation’ which heralded a movement away from static web pages to interactivity and collaboration. The technology has given rise to social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, blogs (web logs) and micro blogs such as Twitter, with the central focus of each being user generated content.

 Are your customers are online?

The path to social media has been carved by the uptake in Internet connections. In Australia in 2007/2008, more than two thirds (67%) of households had home internet access and three quarters access to a computer.[1] Significantly, household adoption of faster connection via broadband increased by 22% from the previous year to an estimated 4.3 million, over half (52%) of all Australian households.

Neilsen research shows that two thirds of the world’s internet population visited a social network or blogging site and the sector now accounts for almost 10% of all internet time.[2] Facebook leads the ways with more than 200 million active users, 100 million of whom log on every day. The fastest growing demographic is 35 years and older [3] with 70% of users located outside the US.

Why important for businesses?

The uptake of Web 2.0 has transformed the marketing landscape. Social media represents another way to communicate and engage with customers, to build better relationships, generate referrals and word of mouth, increase and reinforce brand awareness and forge sales. Strategically, social media is useful to build  stronger more authentic relationships with existing customers and relationships with new ones.

And it’s useful for all businesses. Not for profits can harness social media to engage with donors, and to encourage communication and connection between donors.   Indeed, the numerous Facebook pages established after the recent Victorian bushfires which raised awareness and dollars, is just one example of the power of this media.

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Anne Sorensen is Director of Marketing Is Us, a specialist marketing consultancy dedicated to facilitating business growth by providing strategic marketing solutions. She holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), MBA and is a Certified Practising Marketer with the Australian Marketing Institute. E: anne@marketingisus.com.au

[1] ABS 2008, Cat 8146.0 Household Use of Information Technology
[2] Neilsen March 2009
[3] Facebook, 2009
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