A onetime skeptic, and in some ways still one, Richard Harrington has found intriguing ways to build his business -- and yours -- using social media.
- SIDEBAR: WHY BOTHER WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
Because it's worth it. Here are a few statistics about the size of social media:
- 96% of Generation Y uses social networks.
- If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest.
- 300,000+ businesses have a Facebook page.
- Dell has sold $3 million dollars of computers on Twitter.
- Only 18% of TV campaigns generate a return on investment.
- Ford Motors spends 25% of its marketing budget on social media -- and didn't need a government bailout.
- The average American watches 124 videos per month online
- 70% of 18-34 year olds watch TV on the web -- but only 35% use a TiVo.
- 24 out of 25 of the top newspapers are experiencing record declines.
It seems that everywhere I turn, social media comes up. Independent producers as well as top studios look to harness social media to raise awareness for their productions. Customers are using it to talk about products and companies they love -- and hate. People look to re-establish their personal networks during tough economic times. Heck, your mother (or your kids) may be connected to you on Facebook.
But is this real? Specifically, can social media help your business grow?
The answer is a bit complex. Let's say it's both real and fake. I'm thinking 60/40. We'll see. You may think I'm being non-committal, but I'm not. The social media movement is filled with a lot of hot air right now. Just like the real estate market, the social media boom will pop.
But people need homes, and people have a real need to communicate with others in meaningful ways. Social media is a real communication medium that can be incredibly valuable, but getting started is like being thrown into a raging river and learning how to swim. It can be overwhelming at first, and if you look for help, you'll encounter a lot of bad advice. That's why I am writing this article, to offer you practical advice and real world experiences about how social media can help those of us who work with traditional media.
When I began looking into it, I was skeptical. Glancing at sites like Twitter and Facebook, they seem like a lot of distraction. As a business owner and parent, I am fiercely protective of my time. I refuse to waste even the slightest bit of effort on things with no return. Between getting the work done, finding new clients, and staying happily married, I have my hands full. Besides, I was already an avid podcaster and blogger, and social media seemed trivial. After all, who cares what I had for lunch today?
But I have smart friends, and enough of them were using social media on a daily basis. I make a living both using and teaching technology. I have found it essential to keep an open mind when it comes to our evolving industry. Otherwise, I'd still be editing on U-matic tape and splicing together with a reel-to-reel machine. I decided to give social media genuine effort for 6 months. What I found was surprising --in a good way.