Technology

Is social media a fad?

Fi Bendall /

Lies, lies and damn statistics just aren’t going to wash. Every research report being released shows social media is here to stay.

Firmly putting the consumer in control. Pew Research shows a whooping 72% of Americans are regular social media users, Twitter usage over the past three years is up 125% (with 800% social media usage growth in eight years), and that doesn’t change when it comes to Australians.
So it is time for corporate Australia to wake up! As Australians we love the internet, we love our gadgets and technology, we love social media, and we love hanging out with other people. We are a socialable nation. I’ve worked in technology for 26 years and, not surprisingly, the Aussies were always up there, in at least the top 10, for early adoption rates. So why do businesses and brands still struggle? Why do they try and put social media in a neat box that says Facebook likes or Facebook ads and then run away and leave it to the intern?

It is time for Australian businesses to get serious about social business models

Social media is not a fad and it is not about Facebook likes or social networking ads. It is about ‘other’.

I was viewing revenue figures that Crikey published in its article about media spend being decimated. (For every $1 lost in print only 8c was recovered online.) One of the glaring aspects of this schedule of spends is the category digital ‘other’ – up a whopping 116.6% and overshadowing search by a mile.

Digital ‘other’ is the biggest growth category. What is ‘other’? It may well be described as:

  • Content deals
  • Embedded apps
  • Mobile ads
  • Social media blog outreach / sponsorship
  • Community

What this shows is the stats are not lies, and they have not been lies for eight years.

  • Consumers do not want to be spoon-fed marketing messages and the media agencies are suffering as a result
  • Consumers do not want to engage with brands in the traditional sense and the creative agencies are suffering as a result
  • Consumers expect more from businesses and brands
  • Consumers love social media because it puts them in the driving seat and in control

It means all forms of communication need to change and businesses and brands need to adapt to embrace social business models that reflect the society we live in now.

Social media is not a fad, it is not going away and the old way of marketing and media is not coming back. The statistics have not being lying for the past eight years.

So WAKE UP!

Look at a new way forward and follow these simple steps to start the process of embracing the fad that wasn’t:

1.    Do your due diligence

a.    What are people saying about you?

b.    Where are your customer’s social media ecosystems?

c.    What does their networking habits tell you?

Top tip: Think niche and small, not big. Get under the bonnet of a few to really understand in a qualitative way.

2.    Rethink where you need to live in their digital ecosystems

a.    What are their habits?

b.    What are the best channels?

c.    How do they speak?

d.    Engage them; ask them what they think of you

e.    Ask how you can become a better-networked connection for them

Top tip: Don’t be too proud to ask for advice and be willing to listen to new ways and challenging yourself to rethink.

3.    What do you need to change

a.    Identify only three programs to begin with, be kind to yourself

b.    Do what you do, really well, don’t try to become a social business in a few months

c.    Look to your people internally

d.    What tools will help you?

e.    What processes can you adapt to act and think like a social business?

Top tip: Build a long-term strategic plan. Stop thinking campaigns, stop thinking loyalty, start thinking long-term relationships and recognition, start really thinking outside the box.

4.    Now look at

a.    People – your and your customers

b.    Process

c.    Content

d.    Smart agile deployment methods

Top tip: Social business is about people first and foremost.

Lastly, take a note from Steve Jobs:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things … they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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