“Why do I need social media, again?”
It's a great question, and a common one too, so we'll explain...
The roots of social media stretch far deeper than you can possibly imagine. Despite it seeming a relatively recent phenomenon, sites like Facebook and Twitter are the logical outcome of centuries worth of social development among the human population.
But too often we’re asked; “Why do I need social media? What are the benefits? I don’t really understand it…can you explain?”. So, in this blog, I’ll tell you why we use it to market products and services, and how it has become a popular tool for businesses across the world.
As a huge history fan, I consider the dawn of social media to have arisen way back in the 19th Century, with the development of the electrical telegraph. Wires were developed allowing electrical signals to transfer messages from one place to another. These wires were connected to an electromagnet, meaning they would buzz when receiving electricity. However, Samuel Morse (et al) had to come up with a way of communicating messages through one electrical buzz – either a short buzz or a long buzz. Thus, the Morse Code was born, allowing small messages to be conveyed from one place to another, much faster than on horseback. Although the messages were short, it became a revolutionary way to convey news and information and was the first form of electrical telecommunication.
Following this was the invention of the telephone, in 1890, and the radio in 1891, not quite social media as we know it today, but it was yet another leap in the wider engagement of the populous. Rural communities were no longer disconnected from larger cities, and everyone felt a bit more connected with each other.
In the 20th Century, technology advancement was much quicker, with the first computers coming into use in the 1940s and the earliest version of the Internet, CompuServe, being developed in the 1960s. By 1979, UseNet allowed users to communicate through a virtual newsletter and in the late 80s we were gifted with Internet Relay Chats (IRCs). However, the first recognisable social media, Six Degrees, wasn’t created until 1997.
Explaining social media is challenging because they offer so much. An easy way to sum up modern day social media is that it’s an amalgamation of previous telecommunication methods put into one platform.
Not only does it offer a solution to message and voice communication, but it also allows people to share information worldwide to different groups of people.
By the end of this year, the number of worldwide users of social media is expected to surpass 2.5 billion. With so many consumers using social media every day, this presents a great opportunity for smaller businesses, as well as the corporate giants, to reach an online audience. Social media is not just a business to consumer product. Social media is also a business to business platform, allowing you to connect and create a network of useful business contacts too.
Sure, you’ve heard all about SEO and what you can do increase your ranking on search engines like Google. But, a simple way to improve your SEO is actively updating your social media feeds. This is because successful brands have a healthy social media presence, and this will act as a signal to search engines that your brand is valuable, credible and trustworthy.
Adding social media feeds, to your website, will show what you post on social media onto the website. This will mean that your website is being updated more regularly than planned content changes. Although algorithms that search engines use to find relevant websites are always evolving and changing – having a healthy social presence will end up helping you in a slow and measured way and create authority in the eyes of the search engines.
Quite simply, you will miss out on the sheer quantity of largely-free marketing benefits that you can gain from being on social media. Recently, the pub chain Wetherspoons closed all of its social media accounts due to the ‘addictive nature of social media’ and the fact that their staff were ‘just posting pictures of pints.’ Now, it will be interesting to see if the brand reputation has suffered by going in the opposite direction to most brands and deleting social media, but it’s too early to tell.
However, this brings me on to my final point, social media is a point of contact for many firms and many people go on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc to engage with their peers. It’s so-called ‘addictive nature’ is not something that’s a negative when you have a business presence on social media – if anything, it’s a benefit as it allows you to have contact with customers long before and long after they use your product or service. And if you’re spending hours posting pictures of pints, you probably need to re-think your social strategy as you’re definitely not harnessing its true potential. So, get out there and get posting!
If you need any assistance or advice on social media management, you can get in touch here.