If you threw a stone in the air today, the highest chances are that it would fall on a “Digital Marketer” or a “Social Media Influencer”. No pun intended, this is the average profile of the modern 21 – 28 year old young turk who owns a smartphone and has access to free daytime Wi-Fi and 65MB night data bundles.
Humor aside, the fact that everyone is in a rush to be recognized as an expert in the social media realm is indicative of something. It simply points to the fact that there exists a huge opportunity in the space which has created a skills gap that can only be filled by a few (experts). Thus, everyone else is rushing to make an attempt at filling this space .
As it stands, more than a quarter of the world’s population today actively uses Facebook every month- (1.94Billion) as indicated by statista.com. Further, about one billion users log onto WhatsApp monthly, 600 million onto Instagram and 317 million onto twitter. The “professional social sites” aren’t left behind either with LinkedIn receiving 106 million active monthly users of the total 414 million accounts on the platform.
The statistics become even more interesting when we take for instance, the most popular social media channel – Facebook. Every second, five new accounts are created – about twice the number of those created on LinkedIn. An average user spends about 20 minutes once they log onto the platform while an avid user on the other hand may login in up to 14 times a day.
These statistics give insights into trends – into where everyone else should be headed (if you aren’t there already). With internet connectivity and mobile phone usage increasing rapidly throughout the globe, the new wave of digital transformation continues to compel organizations to adopt a digital strategy: a more digital and mobile-friendly business model. This is witnessed even among news outlets that have in the recent past experienced substantive job cuts. At the same time, online news outlets continue to spring up swiftly. What does this mean?
It is not just important but now mandatory that every organization (whether for profit or not-for-profit) adopts social media usage as a key operation component. Well applied, this technology could be essential to communication, marketing or stakeholder engagement. Moreso, the gains are vast, ranging from increased brand recognition to increased opportunities for higher conversions.
However, having an online media presence via multiple accounts is not adequate. To get the most out of it, one has to engage actively and more importantly, be strategic in the use of these platforms.
In a quest to keep up with the changing times, a number of organizations may rush to create social media accounts on only to have their efforts turn detrimental rather than fruitless. The reason is that an organization’s utilization of social media profoundly differs from that of an individual. It is a realm whose success is purely anchored on strategy rather than trial and error.
For this reason, every organization that yearns for success on such platforms requires a social media strategy. This defines how your organization will use social media to achieve its communications aims as well as the necessary supporting platforms and tools needed for optimum results. For this strategy to be effective, it should be founded on research. It will thereafter outline the goals and measurable objectives for social media use including the target outcomes you intend to achieve.
Justin Wise, in his book, The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication pinpoints the fact that, “the world runs on relational connections.” Indeed we are hardwired for communication—to share, build, and connect. We literally cannot help ourselves. It is at the heart of humanity—the core of who we are.
“We sense it when we connect with loved ones, our friends, and colleagues. We sense it as we watch oppressive governments topple; as we watch savvy political candidates leverage new media to raise funds in unprecedented amounts. Schools and educational institutions are moving curriculum online to provide resources and educate people who may never have the chance otherwise. The un- and undereducated are having their lives changed by knowledge available online. Businesses are being forced to adjust long-entrenched marketing strategies because consumers have found their voice and won’t be giving it up any time soon. What worked is no longer working.”- Justin Wise
Indeed, what initially worked is no longer working – and what is working may not continue to do so unless adjusted. Just like tax, digital transformation cannot be avoided. Even if you’re not actively involved in social media, other businesses are, including your competitors and most likely a significant proportion of your customers. Failing to understand that this is where many people hold conversations means that you are excluded from the discussions. Your absence then limits your ability to influence events, decisions and actions. So what will you choose? To be present or not? To be strategic about it or not?
The writer is a Digital Strategist at Impact Africa Limited; passionate about use of ICTs in communication