Just How Important is Social Media in Business?

This is a guest post by Kate Spiers

When you work with social media, use social technologies every day and think and act socially as a matter of course, it’s easy to forget that we’re actually in a minority of super-users right now. There’s nothing more sobering, however, than taking a step back and preparing to lead a client gently into our very social world.

What comes naturally to us may be a mystery to others. The tools we confidently use, link together and employ on-the-fly are viewed with trepidation by some. And at times it can be really hard to explain something that feels so intuitive, we do it completely naturally and spontaneously. It’s these clients – the ones who want to know more but don’t know where to start, who have few preconceptions and plenty of questions – who can teach us so much. Because they force us to re-examine all over again why we do this.

One of the questions I hear most often is “Honestly, just how important is social media?” Well, the obvious answer is “very”, right? It’s very important to me and to my business, and to a lot of our clients. I rely on it. But, given that Wisdom London is a communications agency and we are not tied to one medium over another, we help businesses in all kinds of different ways. For some clients, social media simply isn’t a priority and in many cases I have no issue with that. Sometimes the reality is simply that other stuff just is more important right now. But what I do know is this:

• Social media is really important if your audience or market are highly social (not every audience is…yet)
• Social media is really important if you need to influence influencers
• Social media is really important if you are about community
• Social media is really important if your business is online (or anywhere near online)
• Social media is changing everything

Some of the most exciting work we’ve done in social media consulting is for an online brand – a highly emotive brand that appeals to a specific set of communities. Over the past few months, we have led this brand by the hand into social media and to a position of genuine social credibility, high engagement and many, many plans for the future.

But where it has helped me get closer to answering to that question is this: in this client, we have seen confidence in social technologies grow before our eyes, as well as genuine passion and excitement as the opportunities and possibilities of social become clear. We have witnessed the emergence of a genuinely social mindset in our client. And I think that’s the bit that’s most important for any business.

A social mindset recognises that the world is social, that social technologies will inevitably change the way we consume, do business, live our lives – they are already shaping it. A social mindset is the really important thing, because social is not going away. It has left an indelible mark on the world and it cannot be ignored. For some businesses, social is up close and very personal to us. For some, it feels like a spot on the horizon, far from today’s reality. But social technologies do, can and will impact business overall – and in time, each and every one of us. So for that reason, social technologies and behaviours cannot be ignored. And, use them or not at this point in time, a social mindset for business is a must. That’s my message to business.

Kate Spiers is a strategic PR  and marketing director with a deep interest in all things social web. She’s also one of the co-founders of Social Me, a blog dedicated to exploring social media motivations, behaviours and attitudes.

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  • http://charliesaidthat.com/digital Charlie Southwell

    I feel a blog post coming on…I wonder if we should just be using social – and not social media.Social is a way of life – a new communication model, not just a series of channels.I think THAT is what most people forget – although it is inherent and obvious to most of us that use it daily.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17220187236457196522 Paul Sutton

    You're dead right, Charlie. The phrase 'social media' is pretty much despised by all. But against that, it's a phrase that people understand.Personally, I prefer social communications as a descriptor of what we do as marketing pros. But as a wider descriptor, 'social' is perhaps more apt?