“Facebook – isn’t that just for kids?”
I often encounter this question – and/or the attitude behind it – when suggesting the use of social media (primarily Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) for marketing, customer relationship management, or some other business-related area. Despite social media’s rapid and widespread growth in recent years, there is still an air of uncertainty – even resistance – amongst many adults towards using social media for business purposes.
I for one can understand that at face value; many adults may only hear of Facebook or Twitter when it’s mentioned in the news, usually about the often detrimental impact these – and by association all social media – are having on children. Without any other experience of social media to compare with, these tools could easily be written off as time-wasting – even dangerous – and the sole domain of people not even old enough to drive, let alone do business with.
“there are more users aged 55+ than there are high school students”
There certainly are a lot of children, even pre-teenagers, that use social media – primarily Facebook and MySpace before it – on a daily basis. But according to recent studies, guess which demographic is most represented on Facebook: adults 35 years or older. Not only that, according to Facebook’s own data, there are more users aged 55+ than there are high school students.
Why in the world would grown adults – let alone seniors – be wasting their time on such a “toy”, you may ask. There’s the thing – there is a lot more to Facebook, and social media as a whole, then what is portrayed by the media and certain sectors of society.
Just looking through my own Facebook friends list, I have observed one or more examples of the following:
- contacted family overseas,
- located previously unknown family,
- shared the first pictures of their newborn child,
- coordinated events and parties,
- sold items that even eBay couldn’t move.
- met business investors and collaborators,
- held a fundraising drive,
- shared interesting news articles, music and video,
- and the list goes on.
“the Internet is making the globe smaller and social media is leading the push”
Facebook and other social media is providing a level of interaction previously only available through face to face, email and the telephone, and doing it better. Like the radio, the telephone, and television before it, the Internet is making the globe smaller and social media is leading the push. More and more people are going online, and using it to do things that cannot be practically done any other way.
So what does this mean for business? Marketing 101: be where the people are. With the total number of Facebook users, for example, being equivalent to a large country (and rising), it is only good business practice to have a presence on Facebook and other relevant Social Media.
Several world-leading brands, and a multitude of small to medium enterprises have grown their online presence beyond the corporate website and started utilising social media. How does a business go about doing this?
“the traditional mass-media approach to business marketing will not succeed in the online world”
Before we go further, let’s make this point very clear: the traditional mass-media approach to business marketing will not succeed in the online world, in fact it could do your business incredible harm. Being present in social media is not about broadcasting aimlessly, hoping to pick up whoever falls into the figurative “net”. Rather it’s about aiming for the specific individuals most likely to do business with you, and engaging with them one-on-one.
In Part Two, we’ll discuss how to do this with the specific example of Facebook.