Yesterday’s second keynote speaker, Mark Graham of Right Sleeve Marketing, opened his afternoon session with startling statistics: It took radio 38 years to reach a market audience of 50 million; television, 13 years; the internet, four years; the iPod, three years. Social media reached 50 million in just two years and now has 500 million users.
In his presentation, “Social Media: A View From Inside the Industry,” he explained how social media is markedly different from other media.
“It’s not slick, glossy or edited and ad agencies are not involved—it’s shoot from the hip,” he says.
As a distributor, Graham shared personal examples demonstrating how he’s successfully used social media to attract new clients and help with damage control from promotions gone wrong.
“The real-time ability to respond to clients is a Godsend,” he says explaining how he once saw a negative online comment from a participant about a promotion involving magnets in a technology conference gift bag and was able to respond back to his client within minutes with a solution.
He told listeners to keep three things in mind when considering whether or not to use social media for their businesses:
1. People buy from people they like.
2. Our biggest challenge is that buyers struggle to see the difference between us.
3. People trust their friends more than institutions.
To demonstrate the latter, he explained how he had seen a Twitter post from a buyer wanting to purchase some costumed plush toys for a promotion. Instead of going to an online resource on Google, for example, she tweeted her need to the more than 30,000 followers—and found Graham through a referral from a follower.
While he cited that there are only a handful of suppliers or distributors doing a good job with social media right now, it may be because they don’t understand why they should invest their time.
He gave several reasons why it makes so much sense for companies: It’s a new way of engaging clients, gives you a point of differentiation, helps build trust, is a cost-effective distribution platform for your content and, perhaps most importantly, social media is the communication tool of the next generation.