If you still stand rigid among those who believe there should be a moat between your business and social media, perhaps the newest Pew Research Center report on Social Media Usage will help you drop the drawbridge.
In just 10 years, American adults have stormed the social media castle, catapulting from 7 percent in 2005 to 65 percent on social media today. It remains true, not surprisingly, that our newest adults still rule the cyber kingdom, with 90 percent of those aged 18 to 29 engaged across social media platforms. But don’t neglect the gummers. Thirty-five percent of 65 and older Americans now joust with social media, up from 2 percent in 2005. And, 51 percent of pre-gummers—those 50 to 64—now play with their social media marbles, compared to 5 percent a mere decade ago.
Businesses that hesitate to venture into the social media adventure risk limiting their possibilities to conquer and expand.
Social media is an adventure of untamed possibilities. Social media ROI, or return on investment, is still difficult to fathom. But anecdotally, we know it’s working. A Social Media Examiner report found that 92 percent of brands report results from a social media presence and half of those that have ridden social media for at least three years credit their crusade with increased sales and revenue.
Let’s revisit a couple of those numbers to make the perspective clear. In 10 years, social media use by American adults catapulted from 7 percent to 65 percent. Half of all brands that have been riding social media for at least three years credit their crusade with increased sales and revenue.
What those two stats tell us is that social media use will continue it’s nearly vertical climb, but it takes time to see an ROI through social media. The longer you take to put yourself out there, the farther you will fall behind brands already riding the stallion.
But, you may be saying to yourself, only half of brands with a long-term presence on social media (three years is a Hundred Year War in Internet time) are seeing increased sales and revenue. I don’t like those odds and it only bolsters the argument that my guild doesn’t belong at the fair.
My rebuttal to that argument is that the other half of brands are doing it wrong. A study by HubSpot, a company that specializes in inbound marketing software, found that brands that merely mounted the social media tree and sat there overlooking Sherwood Forest saw little to no benefit. However, those that were relevant, engaging, and helpful—Robin Hood and his Merry Men—saw revenue grow.
The reason, according to HubSpot, is because so few brands respond on social media. In fact, HubSpot found that 24 percent of social media users don’t even expect brands to respond to a social media query, complaint, or compliment. When brands do respond—and it’s from a chivalrous human, not an automated knight—consumers and potential consumers raise their mead in toast.
Despite the amazing Pew Research numbers, becoming engaged in social media is still very much a gatehouse activity. Only a few brands are doing it well. You can too. There is no big secret to it. Get in there and be chivalrous. Be social on social media and you will be rewarded handsomely by the Knights of the Round Table. And most importantly, you’ll be in the 21st century and I won’t feel the need to write in medieval terms.
Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.