Brace yourself, the social media Tsunami has reached land! Facebook has 400 million worldwide users, Youtube is the second largest search engine with more than 2 billion views per day, 80 percent of U.S. companies’ primary tool for finding employees is LinkedIn, there are over 200 million blogs, there are 18.1 million Twitter users, and 48 percent of U.S. consumers over 12 years old have one or more social network profiles.
Yes, social media networks are not only mainstream, but are the #1 online activity, surpassing porn. They’re growing and morphing into something new even while you are reading this blog (like the new Facebook Open Graph platform and Foursquare’s badge marketing).
How has it changed the everyday consumer and our brands? Our fundamental human behavior has changed, no joke. There’s been a paradigm shift in the ways you and I interact with each other. Instead of using a Jewish Yenta or your friend as a typical matchmaker, 17 percent of U.S. couples successfully turned to online dating services to find their wife or husband last year. Such powerful social networks have created an active, targeted two-way flow for people to easily connect, relate, and meaningfully communicate between themselves and with entire businesses and brand entities. Networks like Facebook travel beyond the old boundaries of privacy with photos, fans and the new “like” buttons that now track your online activities outside of Facebook. Even Twitter has quickly narrowed the communication gap between a brand and its consumers. Let’s face it, our privacy standards are now looser, more transparent, easily accessible and yes, in a sense, more personal.
This is where you, as the marketer, come into play. You have amazing power at your fingertips, but only if you use it strategically, honestly and very, very quickly, in order to stay ahead of competition, of course.
As a veteran brand marketer, I know what your daily life is like with management reports, balancing the marketing mix, executing near perfection, measuring results and aligning company objectives. Of course you need to prove that your ideas are efficient and effective. To help you out, I have compiled some key facts that any marketer could use. Explore these sources, share these facts with your management, align them with your objectives and create a story for diving into the turbulent social network marketing waters.
Facts and Studies for Building a Social Networking Case for Management
* 221 million total U.S. online users
* 125 million U.S. Facebook users
* 43.5% of US Internet users use social networks, this is set to rise to 50% by 2012
* Average of 5.5 hours/month spent on social networking sites
* Internet users who use social networks are more likely to shop online, especially under 25s (Gen Y) who are more than 2x as likely to be online shoppers (Gen X 50% more likely)
* 30% of social network users visit several times/day, 20% visit nearly everyday (Twitter Usage in America)
* Depending on your target market, different generations use social media differently.
* 1 of 5 internet users (18%) purchased because they saw something on a social network site although there is low trust from the consumers (Vision Critical, 2010)
* 47% of U.S. consumers consider a brand message on a social site most trustworthy when in the form of a discussion or recommendation from friends, family or contacts within the site, and 33% consider coupons or special offers most reliable (Vision Critical, 2010)
* Everyone can be a publisher on the Internet through reviews, company blogs, fan pages, “like” buttons, Twitter messages, LinkedIn updates, etc. This means that companies cannot control the positive or the negative content about a brand. Although this is a legitimate fear, don’t be afraid of negative PR.
* Be patient, a long-term strategy pays off in social media.
* 70% of U.S. consumers trust opinions posted online as much as brand websites
* Companies most engaged in social networks experienced more than 18% increase in revenues and those the least engaged experienced a 6% decrease.