THE NEW REALITY | Embrace Social Media or Die! 

BELCHATOW POLAND - MAY 02 2013: Modern white keyboard with colored social network buttons.

Some will say, “Marie what kind of heading is this? Are you not being too dramatic? I am NOT! If you do not embrace social media in today’s business environment, I can assure you, you will die eventually.

I tell people every day that social media and digital are where they should focus on, because the world is going in that direction. Traditional media will have to find a way to conform and many of them already are, as they now use various social media platforms to disseminate their information. The digital space has completely transformed the way business and everyday activities are done.

Despite this direction, I have friends who take special pride in saying that they are not on social media. They see it as a badge of honor and feel that those of us who use social media are time wasters. What they do not realise is that they are being left behind and fossilising.

My parents both over 70 years old are on social media and follow issues and events ardently and compete with their grandchildren on trends and happenings around the world. Social media has opened them up to so much information and activities. The other day, I heard my mom telling my daughter to download Snap chat for her.

Recently, I asked a lady who sells me lace, “why do you not use Instagram to show me new designs”? Her response was that all the big lace sellers do not use the medium to advertise and are her mentors. My response to her was “you are losing the opportunity to sell to a global market, instead of just the people passing through the shopping complex and walk in customers. How many of us are losing this opportunity?
Social media gives you the opportunity to sell to the world, expands your sphere of influence and opens you up to new markets.

I know many people who make purchasing decisions via social media – shoes, soup (traditional), cosmetics, clothes, bags, jewelry, etc to name a few. Many entrepreneurs are smiling to the bank because they’ve cottoned on to the idea and are using the relatively affordable means of relating with and selling to their clients and potential customers. They have a captive audience and are engaging with these customers on a real time on time basis. Sadly, many are not.

To attract the next generation and the ready pool of consumers who do everything online, you need to engage with this audience via social media. There are over 650 million twitter users posting 58 million tweets every day. Facebook has a larger followership with over 1.4 billion users, spending at least 700 billion minutes on the network every day and these numbers are growing.

Nigerians are avid users of Facebook. Over 80% of Nigeria’s educated population between the ages of 18-30 years old are on one social network or the other. They spend quality time on these platforms – Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.

Yet, we still have people taking pride in not being on social media. Many have made significant improvements to their personal brands by using social media to convey their messages to their target audience. Social media was pivotal in the historic election of President Obama as he was able to reach youths, made them interested in politics and excited them enough to go to the effort of voting. Many also credit social media with helping Donald Trump win. Twitter was his preferred network which he used to spread his ideology to his teeming supporters.

In Nigeria, social media had a great influence in our democracy, where the “Change” campaign was ignited on all networks and ushered in the Buhari Presidency. Nobody can deny the power social media had in ensuring Buhari’s success.

According to a University of Berkeley research, organisations must realise that 80% of users (in the 16-35 age bracket) use the internet to research information on a product or service they want to buy and increasingly, that’s on social media networks and not search engines alone.

Using social media to reach your customers to tell them about your unique value proposition is no longer an “if” but a “must”. The question most businesses or individuals will have is “where do we start from and how do we figure out which social network to use”?

The first step is to have an effective social media strategy that meets your particular and peculiar need, because the worse thing is having a presence with zero content, stale information or little interaction. I see many organisations in Nigeria trying to engage with their customers but not doing so effectively. Many are not using it to drive their core business and to push their products. They tend to use it as a means for social engagement to give quotations, announce corporate activities which is good. But, the real benefit should affect their bottom line and engender growth. I have had cause to discuss with CEOs, the disconnect inherent between product developers and the digital teams in their organisations. I usually see a lack of synergy, team work and results.

As a start, in developing your organisation’s social media strategy you need to:
• Research which social network your customers will use most and start with it.
• Build a great profile and follow best practice in doing so. Each social network provides helpful guides and suggestions on what’s best
• Develop compelling content. Content is king on social media. Make it fresh, interesting and engaging

• Grow your follower base and it should be quality over quantity. Though this depends on the business. For some, everybody should be courted.
• Measure, analyse and adapt. Make sure you are using data to determine what’s working and what is not and track progress.

• Increase frequency of content. Experiment and find your sweet point.
• Conduct targeted follower campaigns by having online campaigns to push particular products. As you know marketing is a mix and social media is a platform for place. Adesuwa Onyenokwe is one person using social media very well. She conducts some of her programmes via Facebook and YouTube in addition to her print and television programmes. Feedback from her followers is positive and they like the mode of engagement.

My final word is Embrace Social Media or Die!

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