29th April 2010
With 71 per cent of internet users being part of at least one social network, equating to 940 million people worldwide, there is great promise for social media.
And businesses are really starting to realise the opportunities associated with this modern platform. In the UK, 77 per cent of the online population is connected to at least one social networking website and 72 per cent are members of Facebook, so the potential is definitely there.
Indeed, Daniel Chubb, chief executive at Dansway Communications and Online Social Media, has commented: "Users right now use Facebook and Twitter more times a day than they do the telephone.
"The younger generation certainly cannot live without social media."
Not only are a large proportion of internet users involved in social networking, their engagement is also regular.
Research by Retrevo has found that almost half of social media users check their networking pages first thing in the morning. Over half look at Facebook at least once a day and 12 per cent log in every couple of hours.
What's more, Trevor Johnson, Facebook's head of strategy and planning for Europe, recently revealed in an interview with Business Week that the social networking site is planning a series of strategic partnerships with mobile phone operators in Africa and the Middle East.
So it looks like social media will also be a way of tapping into emerging markets as well. According to Tim Gibbon, co-founder and editor of the Social Media Portal, "developing markets will play a significant role on the impact of social media".
This overwhelming evidence for the popularity of the platform is perhaps one of the reasons why over 300 people attended TSNN's recent webinar, How to Use Social Media Effectively for the Events Industry.
Run by Simon Burton, creator of events industry social networking website EventCrowd.com, and social media consultant Mike Fletcher, it discussed the benefits the platform can bring to marketing and PR strategies.
The experts also advised delegates on how to make the most of the internet as a free market for business improvement, discussed the language of Tweets in terms of knowing your audience, retweeting and connecting, and outlined best practice and advanced techniques for Twitter. It is still available to view online for those that missed it.
Research suggests that many businesses are increasingly concentrating on digital marketing, and in particular social media. The return on investment associated with online opportunities makes them an enticing prospect for organisation.
A global survey of marketers by Unica found that almost half of those questioned have already embraced social media and nearly a quarter are planning to incorporate the platform into their strategy in the next 12 months.
However, in recent round table discussions held in association with UKFast, experts stressed that social media must be carefully integrated into a wider strategy.
"Just bolting on a social media strategy isn't enough. A holistic approach is required," commented Paul Harris, marketing director at UKFast.
Social media has led to the focus shifting back to the consumer and created a critical public arena where a company's product, services and actions are now exposed.
Countering the benefit of building a great rapport with an audience, is the potential for negative feedback, which could be damaging for a business. Engaging with and understanding customers, the marketplace and competition has therefore never been more critical to success.