Social Media

You may or may not have any responsibility for social media strategy for your business, however, this area is vital for virtually every business,almost without exception. You will need to know more about this subject as it will have some effect on the operations director’s departments in some way. It is a known
fact that companies are starting to move their budgets more and more towards social media marketing. The reason being is due to the significant growth in both business to business and business to consumer Internet activity.

Let us start by understanding why the Internet and social media activity has increased by such a huge degree over the past few years. Cisco Systems have researched this area in significant detail. A few of the details are as follows:

· The introduction of tablets to view the Internet is set to grow by 121% between 2013 and 2021 (source:Statistica)

· Netbooks are more popular than ever.

· The growth of smart phones such as the iPhone, Samsung, HTC etc. from 2009 to 2022 will be 956%

· Wireless will be the way of the future with wireless devices and networks exceeding “wired” within the next five years.

· Wireless conferencing and webinars will account for 50% of business video conferencing this year.

· Latin America, the Middle East and Africa will see the greatest increase of Internet activity in the next few years.

The International Journal of Enterprise Computing and Business Systems researched into which type of companies were using social media to promote their goods and services. It was found that the likes of professional service firms such as lawyers, estate agents and hotels rely more on email marketing whereas the like of educational establishments and support services relied on social media and direct mail. Retailers were seemly spending more effort on using television advertising and printed matter.
In my opinion, this will change in the short term future with retailers starting to progress in this area. Where they are traditional “red brick” organisations, trading and advertising over the Internet will be key for their survival.

According to Outsell and Forrester Research, social media spending is set to grow by 43% from 2010 to 2014. The University of Maryland’s Robert H Smith school of business studied the area of small business participation in terms of introducing some form of Internet social media marketing strategy. The report written in 2010 found that social media usage had doubled in just a year from 12% to 24%. One may have
thought these organisations had not embraced new age technology, however, 74% stated they had some form of business page on a social networking site (e.g. Facebook, Google + etc.); 69% were actively attempting to keep recent news updated on their pages (no one likes to see the “latest” post being years old!); 57% were using LinkedIn to track and connect with potential suppliers or customers and 54%
monitored feedback from users/readers in order to help define a strategy moving forward.

It is thought that whilst social media is on the increase often it is used to run in parallel with more traditional marketing activities and that the marketer is using this blended methodology of marketing and promotional strategy to increase coverage in order to reach out to their market place. According to the “Chief Marketing Office Council” (see ) nearly a quarter of marketing departments were intending to increase their staff to cover social media activity, 60% were launching new advertising campaigns using this medium and most were not intending to cut any staff; which in today's economy is quite a statement to make.

There are some quite stunning statistics as to how companies are shifting their budgets more and more to online activities. It is thought that spending on search engine optimisation (SEO) is up 17%, Webinars 26%, social networking 43% and general web site development 8%. Universal McCann estimated that there were 625 million active users of the Internet in the world. One could say that is a huge number, but this only represents 1 in 10 people on the planet; so if you are a company with international sales aspirations, there is going to be a huge new market for you to target!

The need to embrace the Internet and social media is apparent. Entry level costs are relatively low in order to participate. If it is done professionally it can really enhance the image of your organisation but likewise care has to be taken as, if done badly, it can have an equally devastating effect. If you are to embark down this path ensure you have the infrastructure in place to meet what could be a significant increase in
growth. You need make sure that you introduced as much automation as possible, you will have to liaise with your IT department to make sure your online communications and ordering systems are robust enough to meet your business needs are configured in such a way that customers find the interaction with
your company; in an online environment, easy and trouble free.

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