Don’t know your Twitter from your Twiglets? Your Facebook from your Fat Face? Decidedly social media unsavvy? Well, read on. This one’s for you.

So you’ve heard about this magical thing called social media, and how you need to get on it, but don’t know where to start? And, really, you’re busy enough, got plenty of clients, so why bother? It just seems a bit unnecessary, to be honest.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to drag yourself – kicking and screaming, if need be – into the 21st century. It is 2017, after all.

Social media’s been around for a while now, and it looks like it’s here to stay. It may have begun humbly enough with Friends Reunited and MySpace. But it’s all grown up now, and they’ve finally found a way to commercialise it. So now it’s time for you to tap in and mine those massive databases of personal data for yourself.

And, while you might be currently happy with your generic four-line Yellow Pages ad, there will most likely come a time when that business dries up.

Not just a pretty face

Let’s look at the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook, which celebrated its 14th birthday earlier this year. What began as a platform for Harvard College students to rate each other’s hotness, Facebook is now one of the internet’s most frequently visited websites. As at April 2017, there were 1.97 billion active Facebook users.[1] That’s a lot of eyeballs.

On the face of it (see what I did there?), Facebook might seem like a harmless way to while away the hours. But look a little more closely, and you might catch a glimpse of just how devious this platform really is.

Unlike traditional ways of getting to know your customers – you know, like, by actually talking to them – Facebook has done all the hard work for you. No, scratch that, Facebook’s users have done all the hard work for you. Registering for an account is just the beginning. Every time a user interacts with the site – “likes” a post, shares a post, likes a page, posts a picture, tags a friend – they are adding to their growing user profile. Over time, Facebook has built a massive database of users’ likes and dislikes. The information Facebook knows about its user base is staggering – and not slightly frightening.

And you can use this to your advantage. But how?

Getting to know your clients

Ask yourself this: how much do you know about your current customers? Their name? Maybe their post code? You might be able to guess their age, but you wouldn’t want to take a punt. At a stretch, you might know what team they barrack for, or what they did on the weekend. But that’s about it. Now think about all the personal information that users willingly share on Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s a wonder identity theft isn’t more prevalent.

Targeting your market

Perhaps you think your customers or target market aren’t using social media. If we take a closer look at Facebook’s demographics, however, we can see that a significant amount of people in each generation regularly use that social media platform.

social media

Figure 1 Source: Sprout Social

So you see, Facebook isn’t just for millennials, or boomers or grannies. Everyone’s on it.

So why aren’t you?

Fear of missing out

Remember those 1.97 billion pairs of eyeballs that aren’t seeing your business on Facebook? Well, guess what. They’re seeing your competitors instead. And they’re not just liking and following your competitors’ pages, they’re communicating with them as well.

And it’s not that one-way style of “communicating” synonymous with those old technologies of newspapers, radio and TV. Oh, no. It’s now two-way. A dialogue rather than a monologue.

But that’s not the only difference between social media and more traditional forms of communication and advertising. As you will see below, the advantages of social media can enable you to communicate with your clients and reach your target market in ways previously unheard of.

Advantages of using social media

Cost

Traditional forms of advertising, such as TV and radio, are often prohibitively expensive. Even mass marketing efforts like catalogues and letters incur some form of cost. By comparison, social media is inexpensive and often free. It has clearly levelled the playing field, removing many costly barriers to entry for smaller businesses, enabling them to compete with the big boys.

Time

In today’s digital age, who’s got the patience for long drawn-out production and printing times? It’s all about instant gratification. We live life on the fly, juggling multiple things at once, and we expect a response within seconds of asking the question. Social media enables users to connect with you instantly rather than having to wait on hold while listening to elevator muzak.

Reach

What a waste of time and energy it is targeting people who have no interest in your business. But this is exactly what more traditional forms of advertising do. This scattergun approach is expensive and ineffective. With social media, however, your efforts can be targeted with sniper-like precision.

Distribution

Think about the last time you received junk mail in the post. It’s called junk mail for a reason. Compare that to the way people share and disseminate promotions and offers on social media, often to the point where it goes viral.

Out with the old, in with the new(ish)

So faced with all the glaringly obvious advantages to being on social media, what’s stopping you? Sure, it can be scary to try something new for the first time. But the risks involved in launching your business on social media are relatively low, when compared to other more traditional forms of communication. It’s quite acceptable to dip your toe in and see if it gets bitten off. We dipped our toes a while ago and really enjoy it.  Follow us on twitter @holdeverything1

Let’s face it, if you’re not on social media, you may as well be invisible.

 

David Miller