The use of social media in business
Whilst it could be argued that social media wouldn't suit every business, it can be a very powerful tool for some companies. Marketing experts believe that ads on social media work best when they drive interaction and engagement, which can then drive purchases. Social networking allows for targeted ads aimed at very specific ages, interests, hobbies etc., and when adverts are targeted to particular people, the number of users that click the advert goes through the roof. Total online ad spend will hit £45bn this year and is expected to hit £59.6bn by 2013 (a growth rate of 14.2%) when the total advertising market will be worth £326bn, according to Zenith Optimedia.
Many large UK organisations are putting social media at the heart of their marketing strategy as a way to extend their target demographic (and most Fortune 100 companies now use Facebook for marketing). There have been some attempts to measure the success of social network campaigns: Starbucks says engagement on Facebook boosted UK sales of its Christmas drinks by 15% last year. Yet, at the moment, companies are mainly in the dark about how much return they receive from social networking. More than half of them are "unsure" of the returns, claim the World Federation of Advertisers.
According to a recent survey, nearly 40% of Scottish small businesses get no return at all from their presence on Facebook, despite user numbers upwards of 750 million and the fact that Facebook is one of the most popular websites on the Internet . The Scotsman reported that research by Glasgow Caledonian University and IT firm NSDesign found a quarter of the firms that use Twitter don't find the website useful and 35% of those with blogs say they don't give returns.