"Are my customers using social media?” It is the question people in B2B have been kicking around since the beginning of social media. In fact, for the past five years or so, we social media professionals have been extolling the virtues of using social media audits to discover whether a particular target audience is actually online and engaging in social media. But more and more, the question of whether an audience is using social media is becoming less and less of a question at all.The Social Networking Fact Sheet, from the Pew Internet Project, indicates that 89% of internet users between 18-29 and 82% of internet users between 30-49 use social networking sites.This number will surely continue to increase as more people grow comfortable with creating social media accounts that allow them to share with their friends, co-workers and classmates.
In an effort to maximize social media efforts, I think it’s important for B2B to stop asking the “are my customers online” question by itself. I recommend changing the question itself to something like, “How can I use social media to do my job better, make more sales, or improve the state of my company?” Sure, you’ll still need to do an audit, but you’ll have more focused results when you begin with questions like these in mind. This will also go a long way to helping you define what your goals are for a particular social media strategy. If all you’re doing in an audit is looking to see if your customers are using social media, you’re wasting valuable time.
Social media, though no longer a new phenomenon, is so unimaginably flexible that its limits are only restricted by the people who dream up how to use it. So as we move forward in to the great unknown, it will be ever more important to be asking the right questions at the outset to insure you’re doing everything you can to focus your creative energy on problem solving rather than simple exploration.
Now go forth and find your answers!