With the explosion of social media, businesses have been presented with yet another dilemma: do they ignore it or embrace it – will it support their bottom line?
I’m sure we all know the term: ‘E-commerce’ (Electronic commerce), the practice of buying and selling products or services over the Internet. But have you heard of f-commerce? F-commerce refers to trading on the most popular social network, Facebook. Large commerce organisations have produced applications allowing them to link their Facebook ‘Like’ page with their e-commerce site – enabling followers to purchase directly from the ‘Like’ page.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, describes it as a social utility which enables people to communicate more efficiently with their publics (family, friends and co-workers).
But businesses need to understand the wider social networks that are available and how they, like f-commerce, can directly support their business in both the short-term and the long-term.
Whereas f-commerce reflects the direct trading opportunities provided by Facebook, s-commerce (social commerce) reflects the complete picture, in terms of consumer engagement, brand perception and architecture – and, ultimately, market positioning.
To understand the importance that social media plays in business, it’s worthwhile knowing how many people use social media applications.
Estimated worldwide users:
Social Network: Current estimated Users
Facebook 500 million
Twitter 190 million
LinkedIn 20 million
Myspace 60 million
Estimated users by worldwide regions:
North America 252,908.000
South America 179,031,479
Two thirds of the internet population visit social networks
Social networks account for 10% of all internet time
37% of internet users use social network sites daily
25% of online consumers read blogs and 14% comment on them
36% think more positively about companies with blogs
76% of consumers use online reviews when making purchases
Over ten billion tweets are sent each year
Two billion videos are streamed each day on YouTube
There are currently over 126 million blogs
For more information on social media and how to apply digital public Social media has and will continue to shape how consumers and producers engage with one another. Indeed, social media has enabled ‘consumer journalism’ that can, in an instant, help make or break an organisation. I’ve often said the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thing about social media is that it is available to everyone – critics here, critics there…critics everywhere!
Social media has been so powerful that new professions, solutions and working practices have been created to take advantage of the endless possibilities available to those companies who wish to embrace the future. Unfortunately, where there’s a positive there has to be a negative! Traditional communications and traditional practices are experiencing lack of control and revenue, and have been hit hardest by the popularity of social media.
Consumers have become media savvy to such an extent that traditional communications, such as newspaper and broadcast channels have been struggling to keep up.
To understand the full impact that social media has had on traditional media channels you only have to look at the decline of newspaper sales over the past 12 months:
The blow to regional newspapers has been even heavier with some experiencing over 30 percent drop in annual sales compared to previous years.
The benefits of s-commerce are virtually endless. They allow businesses to communicate with their preferred audience. They enable organisations to connect with consumers and stakeholders and if used correctly, can replace or support some traditional media channels. Social media platforms also allow businesses to monitor for positive and negative content and directly support search term optimisation.
Of course, there are also dangers with using social media. Once information has been posted on the internet it’s out there! So before businesses launch social media platforms they need to formulate an s-commerce strategy which includes posting information, monitoring content and reacting to content that can be helpful or harmful to its overall objective.
There are of course safe guards that can be put in place to protect unauthorised content being posted on the internet. Businesses can also work with carefully selected third parties to help push content to a wider audience base. There are also social media platforms that allow businesses to identify negative content being posted so they can react to it in real time.
If used correctly, social media can be a potent weapon in any company’s armoury. The trick is knowing: which, why, how and when social media should be used!