The Sensis Social Media Report, perhaps the most comprehensive look at how Australia is using social media, is out for 2015.
For years, it’s powered billions of PowerPoint presentations in this country. While it’s not perfect, it’s become a go-to for marketers because it answers lots of general questions with data. It’s a good – and free – barometer.
Armed with numbers like this, marketers and strategists have the right tools to sell social media to their bosses or clients. There’s just one problem – and it’s one of the most striking statistics in this year’s report:
The number of Australian businesses using social media fell this year.
This means two things. Firstly, it’s a clear sign Australian businesses still don’t understand the value of social media and why they should get involved. This is shown in the figures: it’s not just that 69% of Australian SMEs have no social media presence, but also that 6% fewer SMEs are using social media than last year.
Large businesses are more experienced in social media. They’ve been quicker to adopt and invest. But they have fallen off even more significantly: 20% fewer large businesses surveyed said they have a social media presence.
Sensis reports, “Those not planning to use social media in the future say it takes too much time or they don’t understand it.”
Which brings me to my second point. It’s our job, as the social media specialists, to explain the benefits. The fact that a huge opportunity still exists for agencies and vendors to bridge that knowledge gap is something that really surprises me.
We are communications professionals still struggling to communicate what we do.
Any strategy should be built on audience insights – the great thing about the Sensis report is that it gives us lots of data to unearth insights from. In this case, however, the insight is that we’re not doing a great job getting clients to commit.
The imperative for all social media specialists is to sell the value of social media in terms relevant to our stakeholders and their objectives.
“We do social media!”
Whether you’re client-side or at an agency, there’s no doubt you’ve heard that line. But when a PR agency says they do social media, they mean something very different to a media agency that says the same thing.
But exactly what we mean when we say “we do social” is often lost behind reams of buzzwords and industry jargon far removed from our clients’ day-to-day business.
What’s needed are clear statements of purpose, explanations of services offered, and what makes you different.
There’s also the issue of agencies trying to be all things to all people. Call me an idealist, but there are so many parts to social media that I wonder if we’d all be better off if we stopped saying we did all of them and worked together to let our powers combine.
Large agency networks have been giving this a crack for a while – the ones that have an extended family members who each specialise in content, data, PR, community management, media buying, and so on.
But putting this in place is a tactical solution, and the strategic vision (the purpose) and the customer insight (the clients’ needs) seems to have been glossed over. Clients don’t understand social media because we haven’t thought of how to design our offerings around their needs and sell our social media offerings to them in their own terms.
As an industry we still don’t have a response for clients who are asking “What’s In It For Me?”
Correction: we have the response, we’re just not framing it right. We’ve got enough case studies, we’ve done enough great work, and we’ve delivered enough business outcomes. But something’s getting lost in translation.
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