Social media has become a powerful tool to amplify the message of my small inbound marketing agency, but it alone cannot grow my business. It’s easier and safer to market behind a computer and never reach out in person. We believe the lie, that people don’t want to connect the way they used to and that social media marketing is enough. But what if people haven’t changed as much as we believe? What if people still want to do business with people?
Q: Does the increased use of social media lead to less face-to-face contact?
A: According to new data, the average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents about 28 percent of all online activity. This number continues to rise each year. It’s so easy to get sucked into a news feed. You start scrolling and the next thing you know an hour has passed by. But, does this means that we no longer want or need to connect in person? Research also shows that, while social media is on the rise, the dominant form of communication with our closest social and local ties is face-to-face. Furthermore, social media is used more as a means of local connection, rather than long distance.
So what can we infer from these findings? First, we see that having a presence on social media is important, especially for local businesses. Make connections with people in your local area and then engage with them in conversation, add value to their lives and be a human! Second, being on social media is not enough. People want to do business with people. Use your social media as a platform to connect, but don’t be afraid to pick up your phone and call a prospect looking for help. If you have a physical location, invite people in. Look for ways to connect person-to-person. This helps build trust and creates a “human connection.” When it comes to nurturing a prospect there is nothing more powerful than sitting down and listening to your prospect's challenges, wants and needs. Years and years of mass marketing has isolated the individual, but social media and the internet has once again given them a voice. By caring enough to listen, you may get the opportunity to share your solutions to their challenges.
Q: Is Social Media use associated with a less diverse personal network?
A: It’s easy to believe that social media use would lead to a less diverse social network. The main reason for this worldview comes from the fact that we can hand pick what we see and don’t see. But a study done by the Pew Research center shows that, “Compared to those who do not use the internet, most people who use the internet and use a social networking service, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, have social networks that are about 20% more diverse.”
Contrary to a very popular belief, social media has actually increased the diversity of our social groups. This is a very interesting finding. It shows that people want to learn about and connect with people different than themselves. This doesn’t mean they will agree or change their position, but it does at least create the opportunity to connect.
From an internet marketing perspective this can be very powerful. Do you have a product or service that challenges the status quo? Many great ideas get ignored. The reason? They never make a meaningful connection with people who have influence. People care far more about what their friends post, than what your business is posting. The key here is to find who your audience is, connect with them and encourage them to try or adopt your product or service. (Note: If you think your audience is everyone, then in reality it’s no one. You must segment!) If your target audience finds your product meets their physical and emotional needs and wants, they will then promote it to their friends. If they have enough influence, their open minded friends may also try or adopt your product and then the cycle starts over again.
I must reiterate, the key to this process is finding and connecting with a target audience. While we would like to believe that our products and services are for everyone, that’s not true. Not everyone wears Nikes or has an iPhone. Each of these companies get that their product isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone. Narrow your focus, create real connections and invite your audience to go on the journey with you.
Q: Is internet use associated with a withdrawal from public spaces?
A: I like to work in public places. As an extrovert, being around people energizes me and helps me get more done. I realized the other day that a majority of the people at my local Starbucks were doing the very same thing I was. But, if you had asked me “Is internet use associated with a withdrawal from public spaces?” I would have likely answered yes. The disconnect between my actions and my thoughts were intriguing. Here is what I found.
Contrary to my beliefs, the internet has actually caused people to get out more. Not only that, it’s caused people to go to places where interaction with other people is more likely. Why is this? I think this goes back to the previous question about diversity. People want to connect with other people and learn different points of view. As humans, we are inherently social creatures and our need for personal connection is great. The internet has not hindered this, but instead for many has created a reason to seek that connection.
From a marketing perspective, this is fascinating. This shows and proves the power of creating a connection with another person. The internet is a great, safe way to open the conversation, to make the initial connection. But as we move prospects along the buyer’s journey, we have to get more personal. Creating and nurturing a relationship that is built between a person and a business that cares results in long term success. This can be a huge advantage for small local businesses who are willing reach out with local patrons looking for local solutions. If you can, use your location as a place to connect. Spend some time away from your desk and go work in a public place. You never know who you’ll meet and/or connect with. The experience of being around and interacting with people will help you better understand who they really are and what they really want and need. Then use this research when creating and marketing your products and services.
It’s not a game of numbers, it’s a game of authenticity. Just because you have more likes, followers and connections doesn’t mean you will also grow the fastest. When it comes down to it, people want to do business with people. They want to connect with the businesses and products they love. They want to be listened too. They want to share with their friends and connections about the amazing experiences they’ve had as a result of the products they use. In our world today, we are constantly being bombarded with new trends, tricks and tips on how to improve our lives or grow our businesses, but one thing remains true. Those who create meaningful connections will beat those who strive for likes.
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