Social media going mobile

Keeping up with friends, family and people who like you can have a big impact on your business.

Keeping up with friends, family and people who like you can have a big impact on your business. Its called social media and undeniably it has had the greatest impact on communications since Gutenberg invented the printing press.The biggest challenge with social media is to figure out how they can help your business. The best place to start is by doing a little research on what‘s happening out there in cyberspace.Over this past year a number of reports from companies such as Nielsen and 65 Marketing have revealed some remarkable statistics that indicate just how much of an impact these media have in society. For example one survey highlighted the fact that 70 per cent of Canadians say that they use social media and Facebook is the dominant networking vehicle, with 70 per cent of the people in the survey claiming that they have a Facebook account.On the other hand, 47 per cent of Canadians use Twitter and in another report it was found that the new kid on the block, Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in a one-year period.Right up there though is YouTube, LinkedIn and Windows Live Home, according to Social Networking Watch’s rankings. And then there’s a few listed that we don’t hear much about but they are also players in the social media scene … Badoo, DeviantART and Skyrock to mention just a few. I won’t even go to the international scene.Other stats provide an analysis of just who these 17 million Canadians are who visit social media sites on a regular basis. And if you think it is only the younger generation you need to rethink your opinion.While it is no surprise that the 18 to 34 year old is by far the heaviest user, nearly 66 per cent of  people in the 35 to 54 age group are online as well and that percentage is growing.Perhaps the biggest surprise for many is the fact that over 40 per cent of people in the 55-plus group are actively using social media and this number is also increasing at a steady pace.While I can go on and on quoting numbers from reports and surveys, your best course of action is to get to know your customers.What are they doing to stay connected? What are their favourites? Will they be interested in your Facebook page or will they tweet you?Don’t think it can happen? In the U.S., Ford launched their Explorer model on Facebook and generated more traffic than a Super Bowl ad. Speaking of Super Bowl, the Volkswagen Darth Vader commercial run during the game was also watched by over 37 million people … on YouTube.Social media networks are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Rising fast on the heels of social networking is how people will be accessing information. What started out as interesting technology is fast becoming a way of life.It is expected that mobile media will eventually become the primary vehicle for communication surpassing the desktop and notebook style computers as the vehicle of choice. We are fast moving into the era of mobile devices such as iphones and ipads. It is already happening as is evident with Generation Z, the one that has grown up in the net world, who considers e-mails to be right up there with telegrams as a means of communication.As one social media observer articulated … we don’t really have a choice on whether we will use social media, it is going to be a matter of how well you use it that counts.Bottom line … communication is advancing at a rate that would make Alexander Graham Bell dizzy. I would hazard to say that many of the stats used in this column are probably out of date in just a few months.It is in your best interests to stay on top of new advances and incorporate them into your overall business strategy. Two cans and a string just doesn’t work anymore.Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca.