By: Isha Edwards
In an article about successful businesses that do not use social media, Mashable writer, Todd Wasserman provides the refreshing news that only about 45 percent of small business in the U.S. use social media—namely Facebook. Given the slow adaption rate (less than half in nearly nine years) it is safe to conclude that the 13 million small businesses using Facebook do not engage like social media gurus admonish. The fact that there are still about 16 million other small businesses that are not on Facebook is proof that individuals and organizations should not jump on a “brand wagon” or keep up with the business Joneses based on what is popular or trending. After all, real marketing is doing what meets the needs of current and prospective customers while differentiating a good or a service in order to increase sales.
Something many fail to consider in marketing planning is that much of pop culture is fueled by hype. Mainstream media, industry influencers, and the fleeting attention spans of the under 35 demographic impact what is popular. Collectively, the perception of value is created by responses even when there is no consensus about value. Consider the fact that so many tweens, teens, and college-age adults use social media to keep up with each other as well as entertainment and fashion trends, and it will be easy to see that social media is not a marketing panacea as much as it is an awareness, communications, and research tool among other tools.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is defined as the “activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Product type alone ensures that most businesses cannot actively market via social media.
A trending topic on Twitter the second day of 2013 was about what would happen if all high schools in a Georgia public school system were condensed into one. Although a list of brands were mentioned, the very juvenile tweets reflected a need for parental intervention more than they served as a promotional or sales conversion opportunity for the brands that were mentioned. Clearly, it is the “social” aspect of social media that muddies the impact using social networks has on marketing, branding, and sales.
The moral of the story about marketing successfully with or without social media is to know thy audience and to maintain a dialogue with thy audience in the manner that the audience prefers. As with any trend, social media marketing will peak and could easily be morphed by something bigger and better. I believe MySpace is a witness. Facebook – Instagram now have their turn at bat.
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Isha Edwards (Social Networking) – an idea catalyst for individuals and organizations across 12 industries including music, media, fashion, film, academia, professional services, nonprofit, and small business administration. Through EPiC Measures, Isha provides brand-driven marketing consulting and business development services. For more information on Isha Edwards go to www.ishaedwards.com.