We’ve all heard the hype – ‘social media is the future’, ‘social networks are changing the way people communicate’. ‘You have to get yourself onto Facebook or you’ll be left out of the loop’.

Yet, amongst all the breathlessness and enthusiasm, there are still many people who are making this number one mistake:  

They don’t see social media as a fit for their small business.  

 

Their target audience isn’t on social, their industry doesn’t use it, it’s mostly just kids on there either way – I’ve heard these arguments many times, but the pervasiveness of social would suggest that every business, in some way, is being discussed somewhere within the expanses of our ever-connected online networks.  

Are you one of these people?

While you might think it’s a waste of time, what really matters is what your customers think, whether the people you want to reach are active on social platforms.

You might think they’re not – you know your target customers are definitely not on social, right? But are you absolutely sure?

 

A Bit of Perspective

Consider these statistics:

  • In the US, 71% of adult internet users are active on Facebook.
  • In the UK that number is 51%, it’s 57% in Australia. These figures highlight just how widespread social media use has become, and that’s Facebook alone.
  • More than half a billion tweets are sent by 288 million users on Twitter every day.
  • LinkedIn boasts more than 347 million members in over 200 countries.

Given these numbers, the likelihood of there being discussions relevant to your brand happening in social media are fairly high, and increasing daily as platform adoption rates continue to climb.

For many, social media interactions have become as much a part of their daily routine as drinking a coffee or brushing their teeth.

 

If you aren’t monitoring social media, your small business is missing out

Social is embedded into how people connect, how they communicate with the world around them. Yes, a lot of it is inconsequential, the digital equivalent of notes passed in class, but to dismiss the entirety of those exchanges as meaningless banter is largely missing the point, and bordering on ignorant.

The trick, of course, is in filtering that noise, in fishing out the discussions relevant to you. Luckily, that happens to be one of the key benefits of social – every post and conversation is logged, it becomes data that can be tracked and categorized and filtered down to what you need.  

The growth of social media has effectively democratized media monitoring – no longer is it solely the domain of big business and government, organisations that can afford the hefty price tag associated with tracking media mentions.

Find out more about:  The 7 Reasons No One Is Reading Your Press Release

With social, anyone can do it, anyone can start tracking keywords and mentions and find out what’s being said – and largely, those conversations mirror, if not lead, the issues being covered in traditional media outlets. There’s a range of tools available that can help small brands and businesses to find relevant mentions:

With social, anyone can do it, anyone can start tracking keywords and mentions and find out what’s being said – and largely, those conversations mirror, if not lead, the issues being covered in traditional media outlets.

There’s a range of tools available that can help small brands and businesses to find relevant mentions:

  • Mention enables you to track keyword mentions across a range of social media platforms, blogs, forums and more

 

  • Ninja Outreach is another easy to use keyword search tool that allows you to search blogs and social media platforms. It’s a great tool for connecting with influencers, finding gust blogging opportunities, and building relationships. This video explains it all. 

 

  • Hootsuite is a social media management tool that enables you to oversee all your social media properties in one dashboard, as well as providing the ability to schedule your social posts and check your analytics. Hootsuite also enables you to set up search streams to monitor and respond to mentions of your brand or keywords online.

These are just a few of the options available, and all of them are free, in basic form.

Using these tools, you can sift through the social media data flood and find the conversations relevant to you. Social media monitoring is the best starting point for those unsure about social and its relevance to their business – monitoring your chosen keywords will enable you to make a more informed decision about how much attention you should be paying to online conversations, how much value is there for you.

You may find nothing, but the ever-growing likelihood is that you will find some discussions of relevance, some conversations that will help inform your marketing and decision-making process.

 

Ignorance is Missed (Opportunities)

Consider this – in an analysis of one billion social media posts conducted in 2014:

  • More than 30% of the 35.7 million company mentions detected were not directed to that company’s social media properties
  • On Twitter, only 9.16% of company mentions started with the brand’s @ handle, meaning they weren’t sent as direct questions to the companies in discussion.

 

Social Media is Word of Mouth Marketing- Amplified

 

People are talking about brands, sharing their perceptions, discussing their experiences – and often, they’re doing so without ever intending to let the company know directly. Do you want to know about those discussions?

Find out more about:  The 7 Best Facebook Marketing Posts of 2015

Of course you do. Word-of-mouth is the most persuasive form of marketing there is, and social media amplifies word-of-mouth infinitely.   Add to this the fact that social search is now becoming more prevalent.

Facebook recently announced an upgrade to their search capabilities, enabling users to easily locate keyword mentions made by people within their circles and circles of their friends.  

Social search is like a bullhorn to word-of-mouth – with access to the internet in your pocket all the time, every day, there’s effectively no purchase decision that ever need to be made without consulting a million of your closest friends, each of which could be the key voice that makes or breaks that sale.

On top of this, you also have to consider the impact of NOT being on social, NOT providing a social link for your customers and potential customers to refer to. Maybe a customer of yours had a great experience and wants to tag you in a post sharing their gratitude. They can’t do that if you’re brand’s not present.

Maybe somebody is searching for more information about you via social search and they can’t find a brand profile. Does that reflect well on your brand?

Apps like WiseStamp ensure your social profiles remain visible and accessible to all of those you’re in contact with, they enable you to link those leads through to your social presence, which can only increase exposure, and help you to grow your business.

 

Are You Sure?

At the end of the day, social interactions matter. What people are discussing online matters. What’s more, it’s happening, whether you like selfies and hashtags and disappearing photos, or not. Those discussions are going on, right now, and you might be comfortable with that, satisfied that there’s nothing of relevance to you and your brand, nothing happening in the social sphere that you need to be aware of. As long as you’re sure. As long as you speak for everyone you deal with.  

Written by Andrew Hutchinson
Andrew Hutchinson is an internationally published author, award-winning blogger and social media consultant from Melbourne, Australia.
He has more than 12 years experience working in media monitoring, helping clients locate, evaluate and action keyword occurrences in all forms of traditional and digital media. He’s also a Hootsuite Ambassador for the APAC region and one of the ‘Best Thinkers’ on leading social media news website Social Media Today. Find him on Twitter.

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