|English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Social Media is going to become increasingly important in everyone's lives whether we like it or not. As a business person that means you have to get to grips with it as a means of generating leads.
The reason I say this is not the usual 1 billion users on Facebook or 500 million on Twitter or the growth of LinkedIn or any of the other very many social networks. It's simply a question of demographics. That is the generation that was brought up on this stuff are now entering the workforce and will steadily occupy more senior decision making positions and they will use what they are familiar with to search for and validate suppliers. What immediately comes to mind to them is social media.
This was brought into sharp focus by a story I heard recently. It's about three partners who each run their own retail outlets. One for men one for women and one for kids. They all bear the same family name although the stores are really separate. A local blogger had been to the children's store and had been unimpressed with the service they had received, and posted a blog about the experience. Other members of the community had posted comments agreeing with the sentiment.
One of the younger members of staff in another shop had seen the posting and immediately made it known to their boss. His answer was well we run a different shop so its nothing to to with us and we work hard to give a personal service to all our customers. It wasn't until it was pointed out that whilst they the partners new how the shops were organised the public at large didn't. Since they all bore the family name in their title, people would naturally connect the three shops together, and that could lead to potential customers avoiding the other two shops because of bad reviews in the shop for children.
The next problem for the shop owner was that they had no social media foot print at all so it was not obvious how they could counter act these adverse comments. The solution to this problem, as I understand it, has not yet been found.
The issue that this raises is that the younger mums were much more connected to social media than the owner and it also illustrates the problem many older people face; that is because they were not on social media they had no idea that these comment were being made and so could do nothing about them. It also demonstrates that as our customers will get younger this type of interaction will become more common.
|Google 貼牌冰箱（Google Refrigerator） (Photo credit: Aray Chen)|
Also for the first time the likes of Google will come under pressure as the enormous amounts of information collected by the social media giants will be used to provide more relevant search results than a general search engine like Google. That in turn means that these new customers will NOT be using Google to search for what they want. This isn't going to happen over night but it has already started. LinkedIn users can already search for skill sets companies and individuals within their site and recruitment companies are using it to great effect to validate potential candidates. Whilst they might search Google for other information their primary search is through LinkedIn. It Wont be long before the other networks find a way to exploit their data. This means that having a web site that can be found using Google will no longer be enough, to get yourself found, you will have to be present on some or other social network.
More worryingly perhaps for the older generation is figuring out just how we interact with social media, what do we say how do we say it and which socials media platforms do we use to communicate. The rate of change in this market is still rapid but we learn to get to grips with it otherwise we are going to end up using marketing channels which just don't deliver.
In short we need to get our feet wet. Once you are in then you can educate yourself by watching others and learn how to exploit these channels. It's likely to involve some investment in training but that's a small price to pay to keep your business growing.
Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for High Growth Businesses, Business Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help business owners improve the profit performance of their business.