Just a couple of years ago, social media was considered a fad. Kids posting tweets documenting everything they were doing, showing sometimes unnecessary worship for a celebrity – surely this wasn’t something to be taken seriously? Fastforward into 2011 and here we are, with 62% of online Australians being avid social media users and businesses racing to take advantage of this opportunity.
Social networks come and go and a few have risen to the top and have been deeply incorporated into advertising, PR and customer service departments in leading companies. Booz & Company and Buddy Media have revealed in their Campaigns to Capabilities: Social Media and Marketing 2011 global report that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are now considered important cornerstones of most social media strategies in larger companies. 94% of respondents mentioned Facebook as one of their top tree social media platform priorities. Twitter came in second with 77%, and YouTube with 42%.
No longer just the domain of teenagers and social media fanatics, more and more CEOs are recognising the value of social media over the long term, with nearly 40% reporting it as a CEO-level agenda item.
Critical success factors identified
The survey respondents identified a number of “critical success factors” within the company itself that drive the success of social media efforts. The top elements contributing to a successful social strategy were:
1. The ability to react quickly – Good news travels fast in social, but so does bad news. Companies need to constantly monitor the social media landscape, brand sentiment, and pick up on customer feedback/complaints and act appropriately and quickly.
2. Having a clear champion/owner – being a great social brand AND business requires a community manager or spokesperson to handle the company profiles and communities, someone who embodies the company personality and ideals and can effectively convey this to the public, in order to nurture trusting relationships.
3. Clearly communicated support from executive management – a third of companies in the study had a senior executive who was responsible for company-wide social media efforts.
The chart below shows the perceived importance of other social media success factors:
Social media benefits the upper stages of the purchase funnel
Brand building, interactivity and buzz building were the top three benefits perceived from social media. Compared to traditional media channels where communication is one-sided, social media provides a fantastic channel to engage customers, reward them and speak with them.
Social media is going to get bigger
65% of organisations are integrating social media into all advertising and marketing efforts – and many believe that it will be the fastest-growing segment of the marketing budget because investing in relationships with consumers through social is more important than mass reach. Of course, social is not out to replace traditional channels, but it enables companies to reach those who matter through better targeting and insights, to bring about consumer advocacy and affinity with the brand.
The most indicative figure of social media’s opportunity, however, is this: Almost all (95%) companies are reporting that they are growing their spend on social media to build bigger social programs and platforms. In fact, no respondents said that they would spend less on social media in the future.
In Australia, where 62% of the population are avid social media users, only 14% of small businesses, 25% of medium-sized businesses and 50% of large businesses have a social media presence, the opportunity is still there!