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How Vital Is Social Media?

11 March 2022

In the past decade, we’ve seen social media explode in size, dominance, and power. Not just in the business world but also in our personal lives. Most businesses and business leaders know that they need to engage and use these platforms. I would argue that if you’re not making the most of social media, you’re not utilising an essential and FREE tool. You will be missing out on sales. 

However, this isn’t to say it’s as easy as signing up, posting a few photos, and then a matter of sitting back and watching the money roll in. Building an online presence and creating effective marketing via social media takes time, patience, and expertise. Depending on your budget you may outsource but if not you’ll take this on yourself. It’s hard to say exactly how much time is involved to create a credible social media presence and what exactly the correct formula is. This is due to the constant shift in trends, the platform’s algorithms, and what content people prefer. For example, Instagram started as a photo-sharing app, now video content dominates. 

To use these tools effectively a business owner must be clear on what social media can do for their business, and how they should be using it. It is tempting to think “I use Instagram and Twitter, that’s enough, I can tick it off the list.” The problem is that social media channels are ever-expanding, you must look at using all that is available to you. You will, after time learn to focus on the channels that work best for you. 

For example, if you own a boutique furniture business, you can use Instagram to help visualise the product for the customer. This relationship works both ways as the customer can also tag you in photos of the purchased product in their space. Both users are co-creating value for each other with the business essentially receiving a free promotion. Not to mention more information for the business on how customers have used the product. 

This exemplifies not only the two-way, reciprocal nature of value co-creation but also how a technology platform adds value to a business. 

The generation game

Social media users across generations are drawn to visual content; this has fuelled the growth in visually-driven platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, this is especially prevalent among younger generations. It is important to consider trends in how generations use social media channels. 

Different generations are drawn to different social media platforms. Facebook’s popularity is declining with younger generations: only 36% of Generation Zers use Facebook at least once a week, compared to 87% of millennials, 90% of Generation Xers, and 96% of baby boomers. It depends on the types of content customers prefer and what they hope to gain from their time online.

As a business you should consider this, what’s your product? Who is it aimed at? Where do those people spend most of their time on social media? 

To summarise, social media is extremely important and vital to business. However, you must be careful not to waste time and money on the wrong channel. Be sure to do your research prior to a social media expansion. Most importantly though, have fun with it. Creating content doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun and your audiences will respond to that positively.

Article based on information from the Plymouth Business School.

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