According to a recently released study by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone, a brand marketer that counts social networking among its capabilities, nearly 60% of Americans who use social media interact with companies on social-media Web sites.
This new data comes on the heels of a Vovici Corporation study on behalf of Internet Retailer that found that nearly four out of 10 online merchants surveyed said they used social networks, with nearly one-third of respondents maintaining a Facebook presence and 25% each using MySpace and YouTube.
Naturally, these statistics had us wondering – knowing what we know about the social mediasphere and the treacherous waters companies tread by entering it, how many online merchants really have a handle on how to use the technique and how many are just playing a game of Follow the Leader?
It’s a toss up. Research firm Gartner claims that social media will be adopted by more than 60 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies with a Web site by 2010 – but half will fail.
Why? Because, says Gartner, the lesser-tuned companies will fail to establish a mutual purpose which will lead to eroding customer and company values.
Such a grim assessment makes social-media marketing hardly seem worth it, doesn’t it?
Depends on how fast your company can evolve.
Social media marketing is well worth the investment if those in charge of the effort can forget everything they know about traditional marketing and become a member of the targeted demographic. In this case, Generation Virtual (Gen V, for short), an anomaly of a group not defined by age, gender, social demographic or geography.
Sounds enigmatic, right? Well, it is.
As much as we think we know about online marketing, there’s still more to learn. The landscape is constantly changing. Sure, MySpace and Facebook are popular platforms today, but tomorrow is different – and if we’ve learned anything as of late it’s that the world as we know it can change in a matter of hours. Similar reasoning applies here. You have to – pardon the cliché – go with the flow. First, though, you have to find the five Ws that comprise that flow.
In his WebProNews article on this subject, author Mike Sachoff writes, “To do business with Generation V, marketers will need to attract online personas by creating multiple, engaging online destinations and provide tools for individual populations to socialize and express their different personas. By doing that marketers will have a better understanding of Generation V.”
In normal speak, that means that everything you thought you knew is worthless: You have to crawl before you can walk.