This post was written by intern Hallie Kile.
My uncle is a welder. He’s been fusing metal in a shop 20 minutes from my house since before I was born. His business is local. He has shirts, hats and business cards, and everyone knows who he is and what he does. Word-of-mouth business put his logo on jet engines, and my best friend’s uncle’s wife’s cousin’s daughter’s pet rock probably knows his name just as well as I do.
When he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I told him public relations.
“People get paid to tweet nowadays?” he asked me.
I guess the Iron Shop doesn’t have a Twitter account. To be honest, it probably doesn’t need one. My uncle is doing just fine, and his business has been thriving for years sans Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
So yeah, I have a hard time explaining the purpose of social media to him. But the thing is, social media is a really big deal.
But why? What’s so important about social media?
Let’s consider retail. I’d venture to say there are a few more clothing stores in the world than there are welding shops. To make money, these stores have to have customers. In order to have customers, though, each store has to convince the consumer that their business is better than the one next door.
So picture this:
You just spilled coffee all over your pants. You’re a mess. You need a new pair of pants, and fast. You’re in an unfamiliar parking lot in front of a plaza. There are two separate stores with clothes behind the window.
One store has an artsy logo with bright, welcoming colors. Outside the front door, there’s an easel that reads: “Today Only: 50% off all pants!”
But wait, what about the other store?
It’s got clothes in the window, too, but it’s sign isn’t quite as cheery, and there’s no evidence of a sale.
Businesses that fail to adapt to the age of technology face the risk of losing an entire generation of consumers.
Which store do you go to?
Right, the first one.
But it only gets better, my friend!
Once you get inside, you see a poster on the wall with simple instructions: “Follow us on Twitter and get a free coupon!”
So you follow them.
It’s a win-win, really. You follow the cute little boutique on Twitter and get a coupon, and the shop gets a new follower. Now that you’ve got a coupon, you buy more than just pants. You leave with three shirts and a new pair of shoes, and you aren’t even mad that you spent a few more dollars than you originally intended.
From there, it’s all uphill. Maybe you’re entered into a drawing for a free prize, and all you have to do is refer three of your friends to the boutique’s online shop. More business for the store and a potential free prize for you. Your friends follow the boutique on Instagram, and then 15 more people see the boutique on their explore page.
Now the owner of the cute little boutique is simply thriving.
How, you ask? Social media, that’s how.
Retail is just one type of business that can reap the benefits social media has to offer. Other industries, including healthcare, technology and commercial real estate, can reach their target audiences through social media platforms.
It’s important for companies to appeal to the masses, especially now that millennials outnumber the baby boomer generation. The masses have spoken, and their responses have been overwhelmingly digital. According to Pew Research Center, 86 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use some form of social media. The population of baby boomers on social media is much smaller at only 64 percent.
Businesses that fail to adapt to the age of technology face the risk of losing an entire generation of consumers. No matter what type of company you run, social media should be a key part of your marketing strategy—the millennials will reward you.
So to my uncle (and any other skeptics out there), that is why social media matters.