by Tony Vidler
In the last an excellent piece of information appeared on Twitter showing the market penetration of various social media networks in NZ, which reinforces two significant beliefs I have held for quite a while:
1. It is still relatively underutilized by consumers and businesses alike.
2. Social media is a core part of a future-orientated engagement strategy.
With less than 18% of the NZ population using LinkedIn, less than 5% using Pinterest, under 9% using Twitter….there is significant room for growth and usage with these channels. Even the second most popular search engine in the world (Youtube) is only just approaching the dominant social media network (Facebook) at about the 50% mark. While both of these networks will have a bit more growth opportunity to come I am sure, it will be limited.
Of course, these numbers show only the proportion of the population who have accounts – it does not reflect actual usage of the networks by the market. It is in that area where the real opportunity lies. While it can be expected that sites such as Linkedin will continue to grow user numbers at a far more rapid pace than Instagram for instance, there appears to be little doubt that the volume of use for channels such as Youtube and Pinterest probably have serious opportunity.
That is; I expect we are a long way off seeing social media being used by either as many people as possible; or; used as much by them as they are going to.
In relative terms I believe that this is still “blue sky” territory for marketers.
For example, as a relatively active user of Twitter for business I can attest that my analytics verify one level of the participation rate. Only about 9% of my Twitter followers are actually New Zealand based. The average number of followers a Twitter user has is apparently 204 (globally)….the majority of the NZ followers I see have less than that…a lot less than that. And the majority of the NZ Twitter users in the financial services space are largely silent as far as I can see….or should I say dormant?
The limited analytics and data that is available on who is using social media, and to what extent, does support the view that there is vast scope for increased use and levels of engagement with customers. The empirical view is that engagement levels (outside of Facebook) are still remarkably low.
Anybody wanting to increase their business exposure to savvy customers needs to be seriously looking at the social networks and assessing them on the basis of where their ideal clients are likely to be engaging or seeking information in the next few years. The smart business owner will be working out how to master those channels and be continually working on building a trusted and credible presence on them.
This is where tomorrow’s customers for you business will be watching, listening and interacting. Those businesses with a strong and trusted brand presence on those social networks are up to 3 times more likely to be purchased than businesses who are not there according to a McKinsey report.
The logic seems remarkably clear and compelling: Social networks is where people are flocking to interact with each other, increasingly via mobile by the way. It is still nowhere near a saturated market, and there is relatively little competition for savvy professional services marketers to create a strong credible presence at next to no cost. It presents one of the best opportunities today to engage multitudes of potential customers with minimal effort or cost, on a largely personalized basis. For those who do make the effort, there is a disproportionate chance of getting a good business return by becoming the brand of choice for customers.
Yet, despite the numbers….the obvious trend…..the latent opportunity….social networks remain the secret marketing opportunity that few comprehend.
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