Belfast Telegraph

No choice but to get tangled up in the web

Businesses will have to embrace social media or risk falling behind

By Ron Immink

As one of the founders of Smallbusinesscan I try to stay ahead, or at least on top, of the thinking on social media.

Understanding the speed at which things change is important and I make a point of reading up as much as I can.

Recently I've read two books on the subject; Socialnomics and The Mesh. I have also reviewed them for radio.

I got carried away and used the word crap (twice) and advised listeners not to read them.

I now admit I might have been wrong in some respects of what I said.

Methinks I did the subject of social media and its impact on business a disservice.

Rather, by focussing on how bad the two books are (and if you have read a few on the subject of social media, you will know exactly what I mean), I should have explained that social media is not 'an option'.

Companies have to embrace it.

It's not a choice of whether you will do it, but a choice of how well you will do it.

I give you two statistics:

  • One trillion (one million million) devices are now connected to the internet;
  • If Facebook was a country, it's population would be smaller only to China's and India's.

I should have mentioned social commerce, social search and social media as the new inbox (e-mail is outdated; ask a teenager). These are developments you cannot ignore as a company.

Anyone who has been given any education in marketing will have been taught about the power of word-of-mouth and the importance of reputation.

Social media is word-of-mouth on digital steroids and reputation (=trust) is everything in social media.

Only 17% of people trust advertising and 50% of internet users would consult a blog before purchasing. Have you taken that into account with your current marketing and sales plan?

For you to get a fix on where social media is going and what is available as possible channels for you to engage (and boldly go), I would highly recommend that you have a look at the conversation prism of Brian Solis ( http://www.theconversationprism.com/).

That should give you a head start on designing your new marketing plan.

PS: marketing plan is probably not the right word anymore.

Word of mouth plan? Social media plan? Engagement plan? These are just some of the terms.

Any suggestions on a catchy phrase would be very much appreciated. You can get in touch by visiting smallbusinesscan.com.

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