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I could simpy reply by saying… because this is now how your audience communicates and all your competitors are enaging customers via social media…. but that might be a bit too simplistic and probably not convicing enough. So, here is a quick highlight of why social media is important.
The rapid take up of social media has changed the marketing and digital dynamics giving more influence to the consumer than ever before. Social networking has evolved into a real time/ always on communication touch point.
According to Nielsen, Australia is the #1 country worldwide in terms of time spent on social networking sites (over 7min). Numbers speak for themselves with Facebook now aggregating an audience of 9.5 million users which makes it the third most visited digital property behind Google and Ninemsn. 13 hours of video is uploaded on Youtube every minute, Twitter has surpassed 1 Million Oz users. The overall social network active audience is now pretty much reflective of the Australian population. Social behaviours grow with experience and a more diverse crowd is evolving from being spectator to contributor and content creator. The main challenge for a business is be to identify those content creators and turning them into brand advocates.
The current social media growth is mostly lead by Facebook which has gained a strong penetration level and keeps expanding its user engagement. Facebook is constantly releasing new features (Questions and deals due to launch in Australia in Q1 2011 will have a major impact on the type of information that brands can distribute through Facebook). The impact that Facebook has on the digital landscape goes beyond reach as it also represents an increasing source of inbound traffic for major sites. This shift is particularly visible in the FMCG category where Facebook is now listed amongst the top 8 traffic source for over 75% of the cosmetics brand sites in the USA (L2- Sept 2010).
Finally with 47% of Australians turn to online peer review when forming an opinion about a brand or product. (Adweek- Oct 2010) one of the main opportunity that social media represents for advertisers, is leveraging peer to peer recommendation. Research done by Forrester in 2009, shows that integrating social merchandising capabilities into a website Increases trust & confidence, brand/ product recall, accelerates the purchase cycle, fosters positive feeling & desire. Additionally to those soft metrics, it has now been demonstrated that Facebook fans are more valuable consumers: A Syncapse research in the USA (Q3 2010) demonstrated that, for instance a Dove Facebook fans would spend on average $141.57/year (60% more!!!!) on the brand vs $57.62 for a non Facebook fan.
So yes, social media is important, but it is not easy! Corporations must be well aware of its impact on their structures and cultures: processes must be adapted, procedures must be changed and staff and external partners must be trained. With more and more advertisers getting onboard: from below 40% of marketer participating in social media prior to 2009, to 71% in 2010 (Nielsen June 2010), the success will be all about establishing your brands within your audience small groups of tight knit “friends” rather than belonging to their large groups of loose connections…
Such an exciting year ahead for the digital industry, can’t wait to see what 2011 will have to offer.
What are you most looking forward to in 2011?