Studies continue to show conclusively that customers will be loyal to and buy from brands that they follow and engage with on social media. Your business must be there, writes Ryan Hogarth. By realising that you are in a communication revolution, you will understand that social media provide an opportunity for attaining what you have always wanted: better, faster and more effective communication with the people most important to you in business – your customers!
by Ryan Hogarth
Ryan is a communications speaker and social media catalyst. He speaks frequently to business and conferences about the social revolution, and consults business through the process of developing sustainable social media programmes. He also writes his own blog on the social media landscape in South Africa. Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanhogarth, or visit his website: ryanhogarth.com
2011 was a breakthrough year for social media in business. Word spread swiftly about its rapid growth, fantastic size, and global domination. This created a wave of businesses that rushed out to start up Facebook pages and open Twitter accounts. A tally of the number of South Africans on LinkedIn who have “social media” in their job title increased five-fold over the past year.
There have been notable successes for certain businesses on social media, from large to small. Woolworths and Vodacom have done well, but so have a local plumber and iRide, a biking brand. However, in the main, businesses were left asking the question: “Well, now what?” as they found themselves struggling to engage beyond the closed circle that connected to their Facebook or Twitter profiles.
And indeed, “now what?” is the question.
Perhaps some perspective may help. We should understand that we are in the middle of a revolution, a communication revolution. A revolution is defined as “a radical and pervasive change to society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly”. Since the beginning of this century, just 12 years ago, we have seen a pervasive and radical change in the business/consumer relationship. It has changed everything.
For the better part of the 21st century, business owned the media through advertising spend on radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and every other platform available for broad communication. As a result of this ownership by business, it was business that controlled the message – what was said and how it was said.
With the arrival of social media, this has changed remarkably quickly. It is now possible for an individual who has no connection to traditional media to build up a following and become a person of influence within an industry – any industry. Social media platforms have been the catalyst for this.
Business was wholly unprepared for this change. Being rooted in the past where long deliberations could take place about how your brand was to be perceived and communicated, how do you prepare for a million or more online conversations that discuss your brand, your industry, and your competitors, with or without your participation? »