The Evolution of Social Media: Position Your Business for Success Today

businessman pushing interface with social iconsIn the beginning, social media was an exciting, brand new platform that emphasized human connection across time and continents. Aside from sharing and engaging with friends and family, users could get real business recommendations from real people instead of faceless companies.

As time went on and more people joined social networks, businesses took notice and began flocking to social sites to interact with consumers in a more personalized way. This led to a substantial increase in the time and budget spent by companies on various social networks. According to Exact Target, 84 percent of B2B marketers now use social media in some form, and Social Media Examiner reported that the majority of marketers spent 6 or more hours using social media each week.

Today, US Internet users spend 3x longer per day on social media and blogs than email (source: Awareness, Inc.) and social media use in the US has increased 356% since 2006. Needless to say businesses have taken notice and social networks have become yet another impersonal platform through which companies simply mass message consumers in place of interacting and engaging with potential customers. These days, when you ask for a recommendation on Twitter, you’re bombarded with companies showcasing their product and hashtagging industry keywords. Exact Target reported that 81% of consumers have either “unliked” or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook News Feed, 71 percent are more selective about “liking” a company on Facebook than they were last year and 41 percent have “unfollowed” a company on Twitter. One can assume it’s because we’re all tired of hearing the pitch.

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Luckily, there has been a resurgence of marketers on a mission to reclaim the personal interactions for which social media was created. Hubspot, a marketing software company, believes that “It’s time to emphasize people over posts, humans over handles and outcomes over activity.” And they’ve hit the nail on the head. As a company, the focus need to be on engaging your customers and prospects, not pitching them. According to SocialMediaToday, 42% of customers expect a response within one hour after lodging a complaint on social media.

Content is definitely king and that will remain, but engagement is queen and any successful social media campaign will leverage the entire court. If you want your company’s customer engagement to improve on social networks, ditch the canned responses and mass messages and spend time providing real, personal interactions with your target audience.

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