Social media has revolu-tionised our lives in unimaginable ways. People have got accustomed to social media as their go-to source for what to eat, wear, get news and entertainment and interact with family and friends globally.
Over a decade ago Facebook emerged on the scene when its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, decided to create a communication channel for college students, while he attended Harvard University in the United States. Facebook later extended its reach to universities in Canada and the United Kingdom, and by 2012 had expanded rapidly to reach one billion users.
Zuckerberg later monetised his Facebook platform into a business now worth $70 billion with 2.19 billion monthly active users - MAUs - according to the 2018 first-quarter Business Insider report.
Social-media is now a business. Currently, there are hundreds of networking sites designed to meet just about every human need.
Social media marketing has changed the way we do business; no longer do consumers search for products and services. Through consumer intelligence research, businesses are able to bring their products and services to consumers via social media. Since the sharing of information by friends and family help businesses to know what products and services are right for consumers.
Social media connects customer service, sales and marketing directly to customers in real time. For example, Uber is a transportation service in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, among other countries. Uber uses the platform business model where customers and drivers connect using the Uber app maintained by a technology team.
Although Uber is experiencing challenges, it's not in the area of technology. The company boasts a business model where social-media platforms are used to fuel its operations into a successful business. Forbes Magazine February 2018 report lists Uber's valuation at US$48 billion using revenue metrics, which includes monthly active riders.
Uber has put a dent in the traditional car service business across the countries named, because in a fast-paced world people find it difficult to look up taxi numbers, hold for long periods on the telephone to speak with someone, or wait for hours before getting picked up. While a click of the app on their smartphones get them a car in few minutes.
Some of the reasons this business model is successful include efficiency, reliability and safety. The app monitors drivers' arrival in real time; deduct payment from riders' bank or credit card account, so there is no need to worry about cash when you are on a busy schedule. The app also displays images of the car and the driver who is transporting the customer, so safety is guaranteed.
Social media and the digital landscape as a whole have provided innovative ways to conduct business. Hence, traditional media - magazines, radio and television - are losing traction due to the level of efficiency and engagement digital marketing provides for businesses and consumers.
Today, businesses engaged in social-media marketing are capitalising on the growing trend of sharing photos and short videos of their products and services on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, which remain the primary traffic drivers.
These features not only assist businesses in reaching more customers; or improve traffic to their websites but provide valuable revenue through relationships built with related businesses, and the ability to influence buying decisions.
With hundreds of social-media platforms available, it is important to choose platforms that align with your brand's image and your organisation's marketing goals.
If you have a difficulty deciding which social-media platforms best fit your target audience, there are many social media studies online, done by credible organisations that provide information on the usage and demographics of social-media sites that can help determine which networks are right for your business.
Social media is not optional, as it has cemented itself as a key component of any business strategy in this digital age.
Therefore, with the undeniable impact digital marketing has on businesses, it's time for local organisations and entrepreneurs to embrace this marketing strategy in order to elevate their businesses or they will be left behind.
It's a social world so let's do business social!
- Caren A. Waugh is a communications specialist and social media blogger. email@example.com