OPINION: Why social media is changing your business

Greg Zurnamer (B.Com MBA), the Story Samurai, is an innovative thinker that challenges conventional approaches in both sales and marketing.

Greg Zurnamer (B.Com MBA), the Story Samurai, is an innovative thinker that challenges conventional approaches in both sales and marketing.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media today, the question is how well we do it” – Erik Qualman

Social media has become second nature to most of us. We are all consumed by it on a daily basis and we can most likely not escape its influence on our lives. We communicate via WhatsApp, share memories with Facebook, show our pictures on Instagram, tweet our peeps, and make a fool of ourselves on Snapchat.

HOW DID WE LIVE WITHOUT OUR PHONES?

In 1996, man had already been to space, dropped the atomic bomb, broken the sound barrier, been through two world wars, seen the decimation of communism, and South Africa had won the rugby world cup, but we had no Facebook or Twitter to share the news. We had in fact used social media tools that were in some cases more than 100 years old. Our earliest method of social contact was the postal services. Remember the day’s people wrote letters to each other. This service dates back as far as 500BC. A few years later in 1792 the telegraph system was created and allowed a man to send short messages quickly over vast distances.

Who can remember the pneumatic post, those pressurised tubes that were used to send messages and post around companies? They were indeed a sign of the future when they were developed in 1865, but it was the invention of the telephone and the radio that really revolutionised how we consumed information on a social level.

SOCIAL MEDIA GROWS

The development of social media rapidly followed the computer revolution that started in the 1940’s. Six Degrees is commonly acknowledged as the initiator of social media. This service, started in 1997, allowed users to upload a profile and make friends with others. Blogging soon followed in 1999 and sparked the real shift to social media.

Today social media platforms dispense thousands of terra-bytes of data per day. The facts are just staggering. This is what happens every minute on the internet:

  • 900 000 login’s on Facebook
  • 16 million WhatsApp messages
  • 1 million YouTube videos are viewed
  • 342 000 apps are downloaded
  • 452 000 tweets are sent
  • 46 200 pictures uploaded to Instagram
  • 5 million search queries on Google
  • 70 017 hours of movies are watched on Netflix
  • R9 769 786 is spent on, online purchases.

These statistics are staggering and are almost unbelievable. What is even more impressive is that most of these activities are taking place on smart phones. It is estimated that 54% of the world population or 2.3 billion people now own a smart phone. In SA, 16 million people already have access to smart phones. Consider that 81% of smart phone users in SA use their phones to access the internet, we can appreciate that we are becoming a connected country. South Africans with internet access are online for more than 5 hours per day.

As South Africans, we also like to spend time on social media platforms. We spend more time on Facebook and other social media platforms every day than watching television. Almost 27% of our population are active social media users.

These statistics have great significance for individuals and business owners. As a business owner, you avoid or dismiss social media as a serious marketing and communication tool at your own peril. You cannot afford not to include a detailed and well thought out digital strategy as part of your marketing. If you are selling commodities and other consumable goods then you most likely would need a sales focussed website and online store. If you have consumers who buy your products on a daily basis then you should be active on social media.

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