Social media seeds in the Big Apple

Getting the message across: Times Square, New York

By DAVID BOYES

WHEN the United States of America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold, goes the time-honoured saying. Yet, on the British side of the Atlantic, it would appear that, in one aspect of modern business life at least, preventative medicine has been taken by the bucketload, when it comes to social media marketing.

The reticence in some commercial quarters to wholeheartedly embrace the social media dimension is something of a mystery. But there must be a reason because everything in life is explainable.

The affliction that prevents small to medium sized enterprises delving into the most exciting and potentially beneficial realm of the current age must have its roots somewhere. Is it ignorance? Doubtful. Is it fear? Perhaps. Is it a pre-conceived notion that the social space is just that – social, and that there is no space there for business? Could be.

Whatever the cause of this collective coyness, one thing is certain: SMEs are missing out on THE vehicle that is replacing traditional advertising and promotional techniques in order to ensure strong and lasting engagement with target audiences.

Reach for the skyline: in New York, everyone, it seems, is a social media animal

In New York City, from the smallest souvenir shop to the multi-storey department store, it is striking how social appears to have become the “thing”. Shoppers and pedestrians are urged to follow or like business concerns on Twitter and Facebook respectively. No bashfulness there, but then the Big Apple never has been noted for that trait.

In the UK, Twitter almost doubled its influence between 2011 and 2012, with a surge to 26 million registered accounts. Twitter is versatile and integrates easily with other applications. Furthermore, much of the mainstream media now relies on Twitter for stories and ideas. And Twitter’s concept of the ‘Retweet’, which allows users to redistribute any tweet to their own audience – and allows everyone else who sees it to do the same – gives it notable power.

Facebook can boast half of the UK population – 30 million users – and what’s more significant from a marketing stance is 42 per cent of users are in the £30,000-£49,999 income bracket.

Gone are the days of one-off, expensive display advertising in daily newspapers for most businesses. Also, technology such as Sky+ allow TV viewers to fast-forward over adverts. Through the channels of social media, companies can engage with their clients and potential customers on a daily basis, building up a deeper relationship that was not possible before now.

Social media message: Ted Baker in New York

On a like-for-like basis the expense of a foray into social media is less than traditional advertising, but engaging with the public through Twitter and Facebook requires the investment of time.

You can’t Tweet on a Monday and then not bother with Tweet No2 until Friday at 4.55pm. Your audience will just drift away. Similarly, Facebook needs channels of daily communication to be opened – and kept fresh.

Whether this “working at the relationship” principle is what prevents small business in the UK from entering into the brave new media world is open to conjecture. If true, however, then these organisations are standing still while other, more enlightened enterprises pass them by.

It is striking in Manhattan that among the companies pushing the social media button are British concerns, notable among them Charles Tyrwhitt and Ted Baker, a fashion brand that can trace its roots to humble beginnings in Glasgow.

So are smaller UK businesses ready to follow the example? Don’t put your shirt on it.

©WordMediaCo Ltd. If you wish to reproduce or translate this article, you may do so, provided you add the following credit: This article was written by David Boyes. He is a media consultant and trainer who empowers businesses to use social media more strategically. For more information visit: http://www.wordmedia.co

©WordMediaCo Ltd. If you wish to reproduce or translate this article, you may do so, provided you add the following credit: This article was written by David Boyes. He is a media consultant and trainer who empowers businesses to use social media more strategically. For more information visit: http://www.wordmedia.co