Friday, 20 January 2012

Social media is a young persons game....or is it?


I’ve spent my working life occupied within the UK home improvement industry,  although for the last 15 years or so my employment and interest has mainly been in the technology area of the market. I’ve seen  how it has grown in acceptance and developed to a stage where it is now a “must-have” tool. Today it is the norm to see high quality computer generated images of consumer’s new designs for the various rooms in their homes, and of course finance departments have been computerised for sometime. Now at operational level companies employ comprehensive business management software to run their day-to-day requirements, so technology is now an invaluable business tool.

So what about marketing? Interestingly this is an area that seems to get missed when it comes to technology. Of course there are websites along with some digital media campaigns through banner ads, Google Ad Words and SEO but very little at a social media level, which surprises me. As with many industries the mainstay of the independent retailer in this market is lead generation by recommendations from existing customers. This happens via word-of-mouth and if that isn’t a social interaction then I don’t know what is, so you would have thought this media would have been embraced with open arms but so far that’s not the case, why is that?

Perhaps it’s because the early adopters of this medium were in fact kids using Facebook, Bebo and others to talk to their friends. These sites have attracted their fair share of negative publicity, which may have put some businesses off. However things have changed significantly since those early days and many manufacturers and suppliers have recognised the importance of Facebook and Twitter to their marketing strategies. Today these sites are used regularly across all ages in society,  indeed the vast majority of people I know are between 40 and 55 so it’s definitely not a young persons game anymore. Family and friends recommend restaurants, hotels, holiday destinations as well as tradesmen and suppliers and with Facebook users now standing at over 800 million active users and Twitter at 300 million these marketing channels are not going away, so if you haven’t done so already then now is definitely the time to grasp the nettle, jump on the bandwagon (and any other clichés one can think of!) before you get left behind.