Social networking up among Internet users
A May 2013 research study by Pew Internet on Social Networking generated some interesting facts and implications for business. According to the study, 72 percent of all online adults use social networking and 18 percent use Twitter. This is split almost equally between men and women. While the large majority are between the ages of 18 - 29 (89 percent) and 30 - 49 (78 percent), 60 percent of internet users aged 50 - 64 also use social networking sites.
Most are college educated and earn more than $50,000 and 71 percent earn more than $75,000 annually. Accessing social media sites via mobile phones is highest among the 18- 49 age groups and also among Blacks and Hispanics. These individuals also tend to be college educated with annual household incomes of more than $50,000.
Most adults use social networking sites to keep up with close social ties. According to the study, they have more close ties and are half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American. So that debunks the idea that social media tends to isolate people. In reality, internet users, and social networking users in particular get more support from their social ties than noninternet users, according to the study. This is especially true with those who use Facebook.
The majority of online adults have the discretionary income to purchase products and services. Most do their shopping online...or at least their comparison shopping online. They also ask their friends on social networks for their input and check out online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google+.
As a business owner or a senior executive, you need to ensure all employees are trained in how to use social media for your company and what information is OK to share. Consumers want to talk to the people at the business who can answer their questions or solve their problems. So it's more important that everyone in the organization be equipped to respond, rather than relegating social media to the IT or Marketing department. Customer service people need to be trained in how to respond to customer inquiries. Product managers should be responsive to customer suggestions and queries about products and services. CEOs and division heads need to be aware of what their staffs are saying on social networking sites. They also should be sharing with their peers about company innovations, promotions and successes to engage them and generate interest. Marketing and IT don't have all the answers.
This means HR needs to include social media training as part of the new hire and ongoing employee training programs. Learning how to respond to consumer questions or complaints, understanding how consumers will interact with your brands and services, and creating effective marketing strategies that include social media promotions to engage the public are more important than ever.
And managers need to understand how social media can impact the bottom line - either positively or negatively.
Social media is evolving into a powerful tool that enables companies to get closer to their customer. The businesses that embrace social networking and create programs and policies to manage it smartly will be the winners in the new social networking age.
Jeri Denniston is chief marketing strategist at Denner Group International where she helps entrepreneurs and business leaders maximize their marketing efforts to achieve their goals. A specialist in online marketing and social media, she teaches internet marketing and social media marketing at Yavapai College.