SEO and SEM specialist First Rate recently pointed out how data from Hitwise (the online data monitor) shows that Facebook has overtaken TradeMe as New Zealand’s second most popular website (after Google, of course).
With the rising popularity of other social media such as Twitter and Flickr and the further news that Facebook has just signed a deal with market research company Nielsen to boost its credentials as a genuine advertising platform, businesses in NZ need to be aware of how these events are changing the way they need to work. This ‘socialisation’ of the internet is not simply a way for people to stay in touch; it’s bigger than that. The use of social media tools to speak to potential and existing customers has broken down the traditional barriers between businesses and the man on the street.
Online search is a central element to this trend because consumers are becoming less patient and when they hear about a particular product or service through social media, they want to be able to find it quickly or they will soon lose interest. In my opinion, businesses do not necessarily need to have a Twitter page or even a Facebook group in order to be successful in the current climate; they do however need to be at the top of the pile when it comes to the key search terms associated with their business.
In terms of interacting with the blogosphere, business decision makers need to understand that it’s an all or nothing game. If a business wants to have ongoing discussions with consumers through social media, it needs to realise that not all the feedback it hears will be positive. It’s almost impossible for a brand to have universal appeal, but that’s the nature of life and businesses can reap rewards from listening to the online community and hopefully improving their service.
Recent research has shown that ads will work on Twitter, perhaps signalling the way for the official marriage of social media and marketing. This is likely to be a relief for those brands that are too nervous to step into the often murky waters of direct coversations with the online community – they may simply be able to target the audience and slap an ad on the relevant web page, in the knowledge that consumers are open to the idea of clicking through to their site.