Right now there are over 845 million Facebook users worldwide, with the social networking site on track to reach 1 billion users by August 2012. That’s 14% of the total global population. It is estimated that over 500 million people have registered for Twitter accounts. 10.4 million people have registered for Pinterest accounts since the popular pinning site debuted a little over two years ago.
In the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2012 State of the News Media report, the average person spends 423 minutes per month on Facebook, 80 minutes per month on Pinterest and 25 minutes per month on Twitter.
In fact, social networking is so popular that the father of all Internet companies, Google, decided it had to get involved too, launching Google+ less than a year ago in June 2011.
Speaking of Google+, Google continues to update their search algorithms to favor brands that connect their Google+ pages to their websites. Most social media sites figure heavily into search engine optimization.
So what does this mean to the small business owner?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way. Social media is not a fad or a trend. It has transformed our culture and way of life. End of story.
If you don’t want to believe it, that’s fine. If you think it’s stupid, you’re entitled to your opinion – and I may not even always disagree with you.
But that doesn’t change the fact that your social media presence, or lack thereof, speaks volumes for your brand and business.
Embrace it, or suffer the consequences.
I recently gave a presentation to a group of women entrepreneurs about social media storytelling. I was somewhat surprised that several of the women expressed frustration, incredulity and borderline rage that people waste time on social media. They don’t do it, so they don’t get it.
I don’t understand how to do my taxes, nor do I like it, but that doesn’t mean I just don’t have to do it.
Here’s the thing. If you tell me what you eat for dinner every night, I probably won’t care. (By the way, there are ways to hide that annoying high school classmate’s updates about his or her children if you don’t want to see Mary walking for the 60th time in your newsfeed.) But if you provide really compelling content that actually interests me and makes me want to share it with all my friends because it makes me look good, then I will anxiously await your status updates in my feed and be more likely to engage with you in the future.
That makes me a repeat social customer and last time I checked, repeat customers are gold.
When I’m asked if people really spend a lot of time on the Internet, I can point to the facts. When I’m asked why people spend a lot of time on the Internet, I can’t really say, but I can make a case to embrace social media marketing as a large part of your overall marketing strategy.
You see, we’ve come to a fork in the road.
Right Fork: Embrace social media by creating compelling content and an engaged community for increased brand loyalty, customer referrals and sales
Left Fork: Ignore it or provide boring content and waste your time, money and marketing energy
Which would you prefer?
All I ask is that you change your perspective. Think of social media marketing as a way to provide value to your customers – the same type of value you would provide them if they were sitting in front of you. If you ignored them while they were sitting right in front of you they wouldn’t be your customers anymore because they would be pissed.
The #1 unwritten rule in customer satisfaction is don’t piss off your customers. That’s just common sense. Did you ever think that you could be pissing off your customers by not having an engaged social media presence? In their minds, writing on your Facebook wall may be the easiest way for them to communicate with you. Regardless of whether or not that makes you sad, it’s the truth.
People want to be heard. They want to have a say. They want to TALK with you. They want to LOVE you. They want to stand for something. They want to believe in something. Why not let that something be your business’ product or service?
So have your 5 minutes of mourning about the direction of society today and then roll up your sleeves and dig in. You might think it’s stupid to spend your time on Facebook, but you won’t think it’s so stupid when you are able to build a thriving community of online brand evangelists who are repeat customers and expert referrers. You won’t think it’s stupid when you can reach more customers than you ever were able to before. You won’t think it’s stupid when you can ask your customers’ opinions before making an important decision about your product or service. You won’t think it’s stupid when it works.
Do you have social media success stories? Do you think it’s stupid? Share with me how you feel about social media marketing for businesses.