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Getting ‘social’ right, means not getting it wrong. This largely depends on you knowing where to begin. Here’s your map

Forty years ago the very first email made its way between two computers just one metre apart. Few could have predicted the revolution that would follow. No-matter who you are, or where you live, you’d be hard pressed to say the social media phenomenon hasn’t affected your life today. Far from computers a metre apart, social media has been pivotal in transforming alienated states around the globe, with political uprisings in the Middle East a testament. Surely not since the advent of the printing press, has such a radical movement gone on to so dramatically shape the way we communicate. The pervasiveness of tablets and smart phones have only served to perpetuate this momentum. It’s little wonder that Online Community Manager jobs have surged of late. Far from it being a mature space, businesses aren’t wasting time in trying to take advantage of social media’s power. Yet, where there are opportunities, there are always challenges, and without the right foundation, businesses will find social media a minefield.

Interesting, in the last year, social media users passed the one billion mark around the world. In context, that’s one seventh of the world’s population. Facebook is far and away the leader. Fifty-four per cent of users access Facebook via mobile devices, with 23 per cent visiting the site five times or more each day. In Australia the latest statistics show Facebook, Youtube and Blogspot are the top social media sites, with the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram rapidly picking up steam. The business community is only fuelling this fire with one million websites now integrated with Facebook according to the Huffington Post.

Why this matters to your boss!

Having a good policy makes a huge difference! 80 per cent of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook. The rules of customer relationship management have forever changed. The higher the percentages stack, the greater the risk when there is no specialist managing your communities online. If you don’t have the right people or policy in place, you are putting your organisation in serious jeopardy.

You turn the office alarm on at night for a reason! Incredibly 25 per cent of users on Facebook don’t bother with any kind of privacy control! This means your personal and corporate persona is at risk. You wouldn’t leave the office unlocked and unguarded, why would you do it online. Stealing people’s identities doesn’t just apply to individuals. Just imagine the damage that can be done to a brand with a few clicks of a mouse in the wrong hands!

Getting social right, means not getting it wrong! Social media sites are a hot bed for customer acquisition with 77 per cent of B2C companies and 43 per cent of B2B companies acquiring customers from Facebook, while 34 per cent of marketers have generated leads on Twitter. This is all well and great, but bad news travels much faster than good and an astonishing 56 per cent of customer tweets are being ignored. It goes to stress a significant point – if you don’t engage with customers in the right way, you might as well not have them – a disgruntled customer is far more damaging than if they’d never become one in the first place. Fear stricken “Online Community Managers” often don’t have the depth of experience to deal with customer’s incoming questions. It means finding the right mix of talent to properly manage your social media program is essential. We all know communication is two-way. Social media has to be treated with this at the front of one’s thinking – that’s actually the point!

There’s no training for experience! Knowing what channels drive what outcomes is the golden rule. Customer service is certainly an important part of any good social media strategy, and the channel depends on the specific community you are working with. Statistics show 70 per cent more money is spent by consumers referred via Pinterest than any non-social channel. With HR costs generally being the largest overhead for any organisation, it only serves to highlight the fact it can be an extremely costly exercise if your people are focused on the wrong areas. While face to face engagement certainly isn’t dead, peer to peer digital relationships are more important than ever. Key takeaway: You need to resource it like it really does matter!

– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter

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