Earlier this week Forrester released data that showed that Canadians top the world in embracing social networking (Gillian Shaw & Groundswell) with a whopping 57% of Canadians using social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since Canadians (and Vancouver especially) are some of the most wired folks on the planet. We’re also one of the most spread out groups so it’s no wonder that we use social media to keep in touch with friends and relatives from sea to sea to sea.
What I’m wondering about, however isn’t how or why Canadians go online so much, it’s how marketers are going to use this info to their advantage. Too often we’ve seen data like this used to accelerate getting businesses online who maybe shouldn’t be or don’t have a plan of how to market online.
“If you are not participating in social media right now as a marketer then you are late,” said Nate Elliott, principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report. “I can’t imagine a marketer who would ignore something that this many Canadians are using.”
This harkens back to “Every company needs to have a website to survive…” which was the online marketing battle cry not long ago. While I hope we’ve all moved beyond that, I fear the next cry will be “You have to be on Facebook to survive…”. Nate Elliott’s quote shouldn’t be taken as everyone needs a Facebook fan page, blog or Twitter account. It should be taken as the impetus to look at if your company should be using social media and if you should, what is the right way to do it.
Maybe if you’re a hip boutique you might want a Facebook page. My stylist has one for her salon and given who she and the other stylists cater to, yeah good call. The key here is to think first, plan first, then act. Think about:
- Do you have the time to participate in a media that demands participation to be effective?
- Do you have the budget available to pay for work like setting up a blog, fan page, etc?
- Are you willing to really talk with and connect with your customers (aka can you take the heat and the praise)?
- Are you using social media yourself? Are you willing to try that first?
Once you’ve thought about these or worked through them with someone like me to determine if social media is a good marketing tactic for you, then it’s time to work social media into your larger marketing picture. Don’t forget that what you online needs to support offline and vice versa.
Do I think marketers are ready to give good advice? Sure, of course some are, but if you start getting the hard sell with dire consequences if you don’t “jump into social media right now”, I’d walk away.
And then give me a call.