As social media reaches maturity, there’s no avoiding what an integral part of modern life it has become. According to a recent Mintel report, 80% of UK Internet users are active on social networking websites. This huge proportion underpins the significant influence that social media has on the contemporary consumer: because if they’re on social media, they expect brands to be there too. With 87% of customers asking for help prior to purchasing and 88% of those asking for post-sales support via social networks, companies simply can’t afford to not be social.
According to Econsultancy, of nearly five million small businesses in the UK, 23% currently earn over £1,000 per annum by connecting with customers on social platforms. This clearly demonstrates that direct commercial gains are already being achieved – even by small businesses – by utilising social technologies effectively.
So with the importance of social media highlighted, should you be investing directly in social media skills? Is it really any different to using Facebook privately? Sure, you may have personal Twitter and Facebook profiles – but social media for business is a very different discipline. It’s more than tweeting about what you had for lunch or uploading photos from your latest holiday. Building and maintaining a successful social media presence for business requires a well planned and executed strategy and only somebody with a comprehensive knowledge of social media platforms can shape this properly.
The online world moves rapidly, with over 100 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every minute. With the rapid pace of change, keeping up-to-date on activity is crucial for social media managers. Contemporary, socially-savvy consumers want the latest news, updates, content and offers – and businesses can expect a constant stream of enquiries, feedback and engagement. With social media being a 24/7 channel, investing in specific skills can also help community managers understand how to best filter the content, engagement and other social activity.
Specific training can also save time, avoid costly mistakes and bring a wealth of new knowledge. Time-saving tools such as Hootsuite and Bitly can make the management of social media communities simpler and easier to organise, and a more unified approach will help you to create a more uniform ‘personality’ across the relevant social platforms: an increasingly important asset in today’s consumer-centric landscape.
So with the benefits of social media training becoming clear and customers becoming more and more dependent on social networks, now really is the best time to swot up and acquire the key skills that will help your social strategy to flourish.
Katie King will be presenting one of the inspirational keynotes at Kent 2020 Vision Marketing LIVE on Wednesday 22nd October 2014 at the Kent Event Centre. You can also follow her on Twitter @katieeking.
Visitors can register for a FREE place at: www.kent2020marketing.co.uk