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How Is Social Media Reshaping The Business World

Updated on January 26, 2015

Changing Trends In Social Media

Social media spending is bigger than ever, with Twitter and Facebook leading the way!

With scores of social media networks hogging the limelight, it can be a confusing morass to pinpoint those channels with the biggest quantifiable impact on sales. To date, Twitter and Facebook have been confirmed as the go-to channels for digital advertising. The challenge however is how to measure the impact of social media marketing on these channels, since they now account for substantial portions of marketing budgets. 351 leading marketing executives were recently surveyed by Duke University. The research found that expenditure on social media presently accounts for 9% of the marketing budget. By 2020 that figure is expected to hit 25%. What is surprising about the analysis is that marketing departments are buying into the social media hype without having any real concrete measurements to go by. It is not yet clear if social media marketing translates into any meaningful conversions, but it certainly creates brand awareness and a strong online presence.

Is Social Media Marketing Worth The Investment?

There are opposing views to the inherent value of social media as it pertains to marketing initiatives. On the one hand there are those companies that flirt with social media as a marketing resource without really understanding the long term exigencies. It is one of the most dynamic industries in the world, and changes are taking place at a rate of knots. By the time companies have put together complex social media marketing plans, they may well be redundant. Social media marketing requires on-the-pulse presence, rapid adaptation to new marketing ploys, tactics and strategies and an understanding of the medium. The highly fluid social milieu poses as many challenges as it does opportunities, and companies that are able to safely navigate through these networks will see the results of their marketing initiatives. It is undeniable that companies able to reach greater numbers of people are able to enjoy better returns on their investments. With social media, it most certainly always is a numbers game, with conversion rates at negligible proportions. Now that 2015 is firmly upon us, we can expect social media change to accelerate beyond anything we have seen in the past. Massive social networks like Twitter and Facebook are putting together their own business strategies to make it easier for companies to monetise traffic.

Say Goodbye to Old School Hierarchies & Hello to Social Media

Engagement is a key factor with social media, and barriers between companies and end users/customers have all but been removed. Those seemingly archaic traditional corporate hierarchies have disappeared; in their wake are scores of vibrant social media networks eager to connect everyday people with the top echelons of companies. But what does it mean to have 10,000, 100,000 or 1 million likes on Facebook? Conventional thinking would suggest that whoever likes your page on Facebook would see every update that you posted on Facebook. However this is a pipedream since Facebook's algorithm limits impressions of your page to just 16% of those who like your page. While it is still a big number, it is slated to decline to approximately 6%, perhaps lower. There is a school of thought that believes the organic – natural reach – of your Facebook page and posts will likely be reduced to zero as more and more pages, and users and paid results come into play. It's the same old conundrum: paid advertising versus organic advertising. On Google, Yahoo and other search engines, it's the paid results that get the best coverage. Organic results, while preferable are difficult to achieve, even with SEO and SEM initiatives but paid social advertising guarantees numbers.

This is increasingly being seen in social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Companies can now easily determine which social media networks are generating the most traffic and are the most cost-effective in terms of spending and quantifiable outcomes. Social media messages can also be scheduled to appear on sites at times when they are most likely to be seen and acted upon by users. Various tools such as Google Analytics, Nimble and uberVuTool can help determine how many users visit your company website via your social media networks. Leads, purchases and correlations between specific posts and actionable results are measurable with these types of tools. The presence of mobile payments solutions for e-commerce transactions on social media sites is facilitating actionable CTAs for companies and eliminating the possibility of lost sales in cyberspace. Facebook and Twitter are at the forefront of converging social media and e-commerce streams.

The Future of Social Media Marketing w/ Gary Vaynerchuk

Cross-Functional Social Media Marketing

Facebook and Twitter remain the go-to social media networks, but companies are increasingly diversifying their brand to attract audiences far and wide. Many other social networks are now being included in companies’ social media budgets. The latest numbers for the most popular social networking sites (by monthly visitors) include the following: Facebook (900 million), InstaGram (100 million), LinkedIn (255 million), Pinterest (250 million), Google + (120 million), tumblr (110 million), Flickr (65 million) and Vine (42 million). Another popular social media network is the Chinese-based WeChat messaging service. The goal of course is to expand across as many different social networking channels as possible to reach as many different users as possible. Spending on marketing is responsible for approximately 8% of all company revenue, and marketing budgets will likely increase by five percentage points during 2015.

It's interesting to point out that the Duke University study of top marketing managers found that only 15% of them could quantify social media’s impact on business activity. A much greater number – 40% – of those involved in the study found a qualitative impact of social media marketing. The other 45% found no demonstrable impact of social media marketing on company revenue. The fact that so many marketing executives find it difficult to quantify the added expense of social media marketing is a real concern. Consider that marketing budgets need to expand to accommodate the technological advances required to keep up with the social media revolution. These include things like workstations, smartphones, tablets, phablets, Internet connectivity, graphic design artists, social media experts and the like. Companies have reduced the number of people allocated to social media work, both in-house and from outside.

The average number of social media marketers is now 3 per company, in addition to 2 outside social media assistants. Social media analytics provide huge volumes of data about customers, their preferences and other pertinent information. This type of big data offers deep insights about consumers, but it also requires the development of techniques, programs, strategies and experts to interpret and apply the knowledge gleaned from such data. However the one thing you should watch out for is the cloud. A wealth of cloud-based tools is being created with all sorts of apps for every imaginable eventuality. This bottom-up initiative is being fostered by millennials, employees at every level, and tech-minded gurus everywhere. Apps are definitely the way of the future and they are going to be the cornerstone of social media marketing initiatives for the foreseeable future!

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