What is social media?

Social media is in essence an internet based, virtual means of communication. This technology enables the sharing of digital information (text, photos, videos, audio, etc) with the primary use being communication through text. Social media was originally developed as a tool to enhance the methods of communication between people, often falling under the categories of friends and family. As social media platforms began to show their true potential, through exponential growth in popularity and use, it was not long before its advantage to businesses was made apparent. As it became easier for people to associate themselves to even narrower groups within social media, businesses found it easier to find their targeted audiences. 

 

The role that social media plays in assisting businesses is significant. The wealth of information and ability to categorise this information, affords companies’ the possibility to implement multiple niche market based strategies. Social media therefore focuses marketing strategies. Social media also decreases the amount of time taken to develop and implement marketing strategies. Another very important aspect to social media which works closely with business is loyalty. Without brand loyalty there is a risk of your company getting ignored. Your competitors will reach the hyper targeted audience that you have. Without your involvement, your audiences’ mindshare will be owned by your competitors. Non-involvement has been coined by the general viewer as negligence on the companies’ part - towards its client base. No public trust in this regard means no business.

Why social media?

There is a multitude of benefits that social media has to offer businesses. Increased brand awareness being the biggest benefit. On the surface you get exposure through advertising through these platforms. The often unforeseen benefits are the content shares and interactions, that your business might get from satisfied customers. It is therefore possible to have adverts multiply rapidly and instantly, with every mention and share by customers through social media. Another benefit of social media for business is statistics. Social media can offer your brand insight to how your product is performing and where your clients are most satisfied. Differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 can further this point. 

 

Social media is based on “Web 2.0” which is the term for the current, newer generation of internet. Web 2.0 encourages the active participation of information sharing as well as collaboration between sites. The evolution of the World Wide Web, has seen certain business standards change. In the former Web 1.0 information was static for the most part. Changes in displayed information were slow and websites served a purpose similar to a poster. Websites in Web 2.0 are more dynamic and rapid changing. Verification and integration within Web 2.0 have set the standards higher for social media marketing strategies. Fast moving platforms (microblogging) now offer a company (regardless of size) a chance at spreading messages like wildfire. Conversations about a specific industry or the nature of a specific company are currently taking place. Microblogging offers company owners the opportunity to lead the direction of these conversations, towards their benefit. 

How popular is social media?

The following platforms have approximately the following numbers of users.

  • Facebook > 2,1 billion users

  • Youtube > 1,5 billion users

  • WeChat > 980 million users

  • Instagram > 800 million users

  • Tumblr > 794 million users

  • Twitter > 330 million users

 

To name a few, however the list goes on and is often updated.

“Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.” - Mark Zuckerburg