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The challenges of marketing via social media in a domestic and global marketplace.

First, let’s get a baseline:

  • Did you know that there are hundreds of social media platforms worldwide? Some are built around users, some around social causes and others focus on business.
  • That the biggest 21 social media platforms worldwide each have over 100 million active users… and counting.
  • What do you know about QQ, WeChat or Qzone? Each has over 600 million active users and each is predominant in the Asia/Pacific region.
  • In the popularity rankings, Facebook tops the charts in the Philippines. YouTube ranks at the top for users in Mexico, while Twitter and Google+ reign supreme in Indonesia.
  • 38% of organizations with 250+ employees spent more than 20% of their total advertising budget on social media channels in 2015, up from 13% from the year before.
  • Only 20 Fortune 500 companies actively engage with their customers on Facebook, yet 83% maintain a presence on Twitter.
  • People aged 55-64 are more than twice as likely to engage with branded content than those 28 or younger.
  • 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles.
  • 78 percent of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.

When it comes to the world of social engagement, platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Kakao, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, Sina Weibo, Google+, Reddit along with many others, have changed how we communicate and how business is conducted … for both B2C and B2B companies. But the goal for marketers isn’t to ‘network,’ it’s to ‘engage.’

This brings up the single biggest challenge for marketing via social tactics. As implied by the last two bullets above, for good or bad, your brand, product or service may be a topic of discussion on a variety of social platforms without your knowledge. If you’re not aware and engaged you can’t influence the discussion. After all, every platform out there relies on user generated content you don’t control public perception of your brand, ‘they’ do.

So what can you do to improve your social engagement?

Savvy brands seek out the platforms where their customers congregate and listen for feedback. They may, if appropriate, join the conversation.

The key is to stay attuned to the likes and dislikes of your key customers. And it doesn’t hurt to foster influencers who may use their sway on behalf of your product or service.

Visibility into what your customers and prospects are thinking and saying about you and your competitors will provide key insights that can inform your key messages, the content you produce and publish, and how you go-to-market.

What you do with information and how you position your business is also critical in this age. Authenticity matters, especially as more ‘fiction’ creeps into online discourse.

Keep in mind, old school marketing doesn’t work in social media platforms. Your communications need to shift from “monologue” to “dialogue.” It’s all about “customer engagement,” where marketing and sales have changed from “push” to “pull.”

And when it comes to measuring success in this medium, you may want to move beyond the vanity metrics like “followers’ and ‘likes’ and instead measure your success based on reach, mentions, share of voice (compared to others in your segment), engagement, conversion rate and the ability to drive sales and revenue.

Often spontaneous, unpredictable and potentially explosive — social media has the power to propel your business to fame or infamy. It’s here to stay and too powerful to ignore. Your best bet? Do what you can to gain the upper hand in shaping your social media presence before someone else does it for you.

For more on the state of social, check out our other posts and be sure to review the following articles:
The 2015 State of Social Business: Priorities Shift from Scaling to Integrating