Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mackay: Climb aboard social-media locomotive

"Is social media a fad or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?" asks Erik Qualman, author of "Socialnomics." Consider his statistics and my analysis, then decide how connected you should be. Hint: Your company website is no longer enough.

As of 2010, Generation Y - those born in roughly the late 1970s and the late 1990s - outnumbers Baby Boomers. And 96 percent of them have joined a social network. Instant connection to friends and family, immediate information and the ability to find the kid who sat next to you in kindergarten.

As technology improves, it also changes the way we live. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users. It took TV 13 years, the Internet four years and iPod just three years.

Perhaps the star of the social-media show is Facebook, which added 100 million users in just nine months and now has over 500 million users. Not bad for a company that began in a dorm room. If Facebook were a country, it would have the third-largest population behind only China and India. The fastest growing segment of Facebook is women ages 55 to 65.

We no longer search for the news; the news finds us. More than 1.5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook daily. In the near future, we will no longer search for products and services. They will find us via social media.

One out of eight couples married in the United States last year met via social media.

The youngest techies, born after 1995, consider e-mail passe. In 2008, Boston College decided to stop distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen.

For those who prefer their communications in 140 characters or fewer, a Twitter account is a must. Approximately 80 percent of Twitter usage is from mobile devices; people update anywhere and anytime. The apps for Black Friday sales changed the way shoppers planned their retail strategy.

As a businessman, I often wonder how we functioned before LinkedIn. One of the most remarkable employment statistics I discovered while researching my last book, "Use Your Head To Get Your Foot in the Door," is that 80 percent of companies are using LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees.

Remember the advertising slogan, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"? That's a little misleading, because it also stays on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, My Space, YouTube or any other social media you use.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. It contains 100 million videos and receives 2 billion viewers each day. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles.

There are over 200 million blogs, and 54 percent of bloggers post content or tweet daily. Without knowing who or what organization is actually behind the blog, here are some facts:

- Thirty-four percent of bloggers post opinions about products or brands.

- Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.

- Only 14 percent trust advertising.

Successful companies in social media have learned the importance of listening first and selling second.

Social media represent a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. To stay current and competitive in business, don't be a "twit." Put on your best "face" forward and "link" into these tremendous opportunities.

Mackay's Moral: If you want to have the world at your fingertips, brush up on your "social" skills.

by Harvey Mackay December 20, 2010

Mackay: Climb aboard social-media locomotive

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