Recent documentaries such as the social dilemma and the great hack have warned against the dangers of social media. I myself am part of analyzing these dangers and throwing caution in the wind with my previous blog.- In writing that blog, I came to the conclusion that no one is immune to the bubbles they live in on social media. I began to wonder if I myself fell into that trap. Over much rumination and my phone continuing to be my constant companion, I concluded that balance must be struck.
I briefly mentioned in my blog that social media platforms do immense good in this world. In this blog, I attempt to delve a little deeper into three spheres of our lives that have been positively affected by social media platforms.
Oh-So-Easy Communication Now
From pigeons carrying messages to telegrams to telephones - nothing before in history has transformed the speed and ease of communication in the way that social media platforms have. It allows for a higher scale of social interaction. A message you send someone is received by the person intended within nanoseconds (given both sides have good wifi connections).
Millions of people around the world have immediate access to anything you post publicly. No one has to wait for an evening radio broadcast to hear your voice or see a part of your life. You can tweet at politicians for their failed policies, share your feedback on a product that future users will see, and talk to people thousands of miles as if they were sitting across from you.
When residents of Guwahati city in India were asked about what they believed was the most important use of social media, the researchers found the following answers:
Of the 200 people surveyed, every single one of them found the use of social media to be a form of improved communication. Whether it is bridging the communication gap, or sharing ideas, social media is now the dominant form of communication.
Social media has become the fuel for economies throughout the world. Here are some raw facts to showcase the immense growth in business as a direct result of social media platforms:
- Advertising Spending: In 2019, social media advertising made up 13% of total global advertising expenditure - a whopping $84 billion - surpassing print advertising. In 2020, this grew to $99 billion.
- Marketing Shift: In 2020, 71% of small-to-midsized businesses use social media to market themselves, and of those who do so, 52% post at least daily.
- Sales: In 2019, Facebook apps boosted sales revenue for organizations by $228 billion.
- Job Creation and Hiring: Just within the EU market, Facebook apps generated more than 3 million jobs in the marketing technology industry. Furthermore, 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.
Social media platforms provide companies with unique growth opportunities as 69% of organizations use social media for traffic and lead generation.
A huge factor in driving growth is social media analytics. 65% of businesses use social media for market research and insights. Businesses are able to get immediate feedback from their customers, allowing them to improve consumer services quickly. They can keep track of competitors, pre-empt and manage crises, and identify influencers.
If used smartly, social media platforms hold immense potential to spur business growth. Let's take the example of Sony PlayStation.
PlayStation has used social media platforms to promote new games, conduct consumer surveys, and drive conversations between consumers and developers. Different platforms have been used for different purposes. It uses Facebook, with 38 million fans online, to break news about upcoming PlayStation editions and games. It uses Youtube to release teaser and official launch videos. It uses Twitch to broadcast live events, interviews and gameplays. The PlayStation 4, released in 2013, allows owners to install an app that lets them broadcast their own content to Twitch. This has helped Playstation generate a larger presence online and to promote and market this product through its users.
By interacting with their users, be it expressing concern, dispelling doubts or reacting to posts, Playstation implemented a comprehensive social media monitoring strategy and increased its followers, tweets and positive mentions vastly. Sony PlayStation is the most followed brand on Twitter, with 19.6m followers. Its followers have grown by 376% over the past 5 years.
Source: Alex Khnykin
Throughout the gaming industry, social media platforms have become the most important way to reach their consumers who tend to be young, savvy millennials. A huge amount of revenue can be attributed to the quality of their social media presence.
Blessing for Brands
Social media platforms have changed the way brands marketing practices. Brands can now focus on building their image and communicating core values through social media–endeavours that would be far too costly to undertake on traditional media. Building reputation, trust and loyalty add immense long-term value to a brand.
Brands have been able to carve out their own communities online based on their products and services. Social media brings low cost, highly accessible platforms for brands on which they can build an identity for themselves. Brands are able to affect cultural change and create communities that are not bound by geography. Whether it is living a certain lifestyle that can only be achieved through wearing a certain brand, or a must-have product to be part of the in-crowd, brands have been able to build loyal followers through smart positioning on social media.
A true testament to this is Tesla. Despite spending 0 dollars on marketing and advertising, Tesla now commands 18% market share of global EV sales and is the face of the EV market. It has achieved this through a combination of innovative technology and smart branding.
In 2006, Elon Musk identified the growing desire amongst the wealthy to look towards sustainable development practices. In the last two decades, the richest 1% of the world accounted for 15% of total carbon dioxide emissions––more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7%). Tesla’s core objective was to expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy. The first Tesla models were positioned purely as high-end luxury vehicles, priced over $100,000. Elon Musk capitalized on his personal brand image to promote Tesla to the uber-wealthy of the world. Elon Musk has 23.4 million followers on Twitter, and he continues to use his social media presence to engage with his followers and promote Tesla as a brand.
Tesla’s approach to grow organically rather than through advertising has proved successful. Famous rappers like Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z feature Tesla cars in their music videos and 25% of all conversations about electric cars on social media are connected to Tesla. Tesla has built a loyal community of the “woke-rich”––socially conscious folks who use their wealth sustainably––and driving a Tesla now symbolizes your inclusion in that community.
Social media platforms have connected people throughout the world in a way never seen before. It is time for businesses to make the most of the positive changes and ample opportunity for growth they provide today.
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