It's unusual to find a business that is not on social media, although it's not unusual to see many businesses doing social media in inefficient, time wasting ways.
The recent Sensis Social Media Report found that while 69 percent of Australians use social media, only 49 percent of small/medium businesses are making the effort –- compared with 79 percent of big businesses.
So, with social media such an important business tool, why are many companies still getting it wrong?
In the recent past, there was a huge division between what was seen as 'traditional media' compared to 'social media.' Global futurist and author Anders Sörman-Nilsson told The Huffington Post Australia brands who still believe there is that separation, aren't taking social media seriously as an important business tool.
"Understanding that social media is now considered traditional media is more important than ever for businesses. The customer journey is no longer linear and a large chunk has already been completed by digital due diligence by the time they interact with a brand's sales representative, making well-executed online touch-points absolutely essential," Sörman-Nilsson said.
"Don't divide digital and traditional market budgets. Don't create internal friction and politics by having digital and traditional silos who are adversaries. The two need to play together - seamlessly. The CMO or marketing director should oversee all aspects and ensure the digital and analogue channels complement each other."
Marketing expert Fleur Filmer told HuffPost Australia that digital and traditional marketing methods should be mutually supportive.
"Twenty years ago, we wouldn't have separated the print media, television and radio budgets as they would all have formed the total marketing mix and were all complimentary. As digital technology is part of our everyday lives, digital marketing is simply one more element and can't be used as a marketing silo or in a marketing vacuum," Filmer said
"The marketing budget must include all facets of the marketing mix that are relevant to your business. If you are serious about marketing, you will utilise all of the tools available to you and relevant to your target market."
But marketing experts often have to persuade businesses to take social media more seriously, or they'll risk being left behind.
"Many businesses start with misconceptions such as, 'Everyone is on social media so we must be on social media,' or 'Social media is a cost free, easy way for us to automatically attract more customers/clients," Filmer said.
"It doesn't take long for the reality to hit home to those businesses and it is at that stage that their social media presence is relegated to the 'too hard basket. Where businesses come unstuck is their misunderstanding of their marketing strategy. Without a strategy that incorporates the tools required by businesses to 'speak to' their target market, they'll soon find that their token social media presence will do them more harm than good."
Businesses are advised to operate social media messaging in the same way as traditional media; in an organised fashion. Sörman-Nilsson said you must still allow for humanity and responsiveness.
"It's all about order, discipline, and a bit of cheekiness. Tools like Hubspot, Hootsuite and Buffer enable companies to schedule tweets, LinkedIn Updates, and blog promotions in a disciplined fashion," Sörman-Nilsson said.
- A picture says 1,000 words. While keywords and great, engaging content is still important for the SEO algorithms in Google, the way to success is through HEO (Human Engagement Optimisation)
- Video is king. Mobile video distribution is growing exponentially and for good reason. If a picture says 1,000 words, video says 1,000 pictures.
- Radio isn't being killed by the video star. Podcasts are a great way to tune into audiences who are on the move. A mobile person on a commute may not be able to view a video, but they will gladly listen to inspirational or mind-shifting content, interviews, and rants.
- Make it strategic and inspirational. Whether B2B or B2C, as customers, consumers all crave transformational and deeply empathetic content that educates and empowers businesses to make smarter decisions.
- Seamlessness. Social media is only one aspect of the deeply empathetic design of customer journeys, which should be moving customers and prospects from awareness to engagement to evaluation to decision, and finally, to usage and loyalty, whereby both digital and analogue media augment each other.