Guest post by Dionne Kasian-Lew
If you’re a professional who’s still uncertain about using social media for business, here’s a compelling reason to consider it: almost two billion consumers already do.
That trend shows no sign of abating, with social media having grown by around 18% in 2013 and predictions it will reach 2.55 billion by 2017. Still not convinced?
Consider that the billions of new consumers who are about to emerge globally will have never lived in a world without it. You may be doing well right now without social media, but as leaders and managers, you need to be ready for what is coming over the hill.
The business case
A joint Capgemini-MIT Sloan study shows digitally mature business are 26 percent more profitable than less mature peers in any industry, and according to the Sensis Social Media Report of the searches Australians do online and in social media networks, nearly 70% convert to a sale.
Yet as I discuss in The Social Executive: How to master social media and why it’s good for business, executives and businesses are still missing in action.
Only 30 percent of CEOs are social and in Australia only 30% of small businesses and half of medium-sized businesses have a social media presence.
Why with all this evidence of its value, is there such a gap? I believe business is anchored to damaging myths about social media that hold them back.
Here are some of the truths behind them:
Myth #1 – Social media is a fad
Wrong. Social media is here to stay
LinkedIn: The professional business network LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and now has 300 million users from 200 countries and is available in 20 languages. People use it daily to connect, communicate and do business.
Do these relationships count? They really do. The Edelman Trust Barometer has recorded a decline in trust in institutions and leaders around the world over many years. At the same time, it shows high and growing levels of trust among peers. The conversations we have with people influence what we think and, ultimately, how we behave.
Facebook: When people think of Facebook, they think of the baby-faced college kid, Mark Zuckerberg. But Facebook is over a decade old. As for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that ‘kid’ is now a 30 year old billionaire leading 6000 employees of a listed company. And if Facebook were a nation, its economy would be the fifth largest in the world.
Twitter: A relative newcomer, microblog Twitter handles 500 million tweets and 1.6 billion search queries every day. It has become critical for communications during crisis situations.
I could go on. Key social networks are well established and becoming increasingly sophisticated as more users come online and they learn to respond to their needs.
Myth #2 – Social media is for code monkeys
Wrong. Social media is not about tools but what they allow you to do – build relationships.
Yes, these platforms have to be built and yes people who know how to code build them. But you don’t need to know about that any more than you had to learn to build electronic circuits because you liked to watch TV.
Networks allow you to reach out to people from around the world who you do not yet know but which the algorithms built into social media networks will help you to find. That’s the only part that requires code. And you do not have to write it.
Myth #3 – Social media is only for marketing
Wrong. Social media impacts the whole of business.
It’s a lay down misère that companies must be where their customers are and there is increasing awareness that peer-to-peer recommendations on these platforms carry weight. As a result, the concessions we’ve seen around social media use have been largely in the marketing and sales space.
Many marketers are using social media, but social media is about a lot more than marketing. We have to recognise that the impacts of a channel that is ubiquitous cannot be managed in or by silos, but must be wholly integrated into corporate strategy, including governance and risk.
Social media has become a seamless extension of business communication. It’s time to update preconceptions about social media as a channel, specifically for communications or sales.
Myth #4 – There’s no ROI on social media
Wrong. ROI is complex to measure but social and digital deliver measurable value.
There are more social media metrics than you can poke a stick at and with the rise of big data, we’ve never known more about customers and how they act. You can measure ROI on social media. However, it’s difficult to measure what counts the most, the value of a relationship.
A Forrester Research reports how to build an effective social media scorecard considering metrics from four different perspectives:
- Financial: Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?
- Brand: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
- Risk management: Is the organisation better prepared to respond to problems that affect reputation?
- Digital: Has the company enhanced its digital assets?
Having said this, in 2013 Business Insider reported that many brands were moving away from metrics that purported to measure social media ROI because businesses recognized that social media is not transactional and that indicators, for example, on financial returns, show secondary effects. The focus has shifted to measures like reach, engagement and sentiment.
Getting started in social media
You’re already good at social media – you just don’t know it. That’s because you’ve communicated all of your professional life. It’s a matter of bringing what you know about thought leadership, customer service and complex stakeholder management in real life, online.
Dionne Kasian-Lew is the author of The Social Executive: How to master social media and why it’s good for business (Wiley). She is the CEO of the Social Executive®, a social media advisor to Boards and senior executives rated by Kred top 1% for global community influence. If you would like to talk to Dionne about speaking or consulting engagements please connect with her here on LinkedIn, through Twitter @dionnelew, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.