Communicating with potential customers through social media is likely here to stay but these new channels still have a long way to go before they replace traditional media. Matthew Gentzkow, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, estimates that the average American watches 5.5 hours of TV daily. The infancy of the penetration of new media is illustrated by the fact that the average American spends just six minutes each day on Facebook and four seconds on Twitter. Commenting on the rush of businesses to establish a social media presence, he says, “The biggest risk for business may not be moving too slowly, but rather overreacting to all of this.”

We would advocate choosing a very careful path in this social media boom to ensure that the aspects of social media that receive the majority of a company’s attention are those that are most capable of leading to revenues. It was reported at DWM’s Fenestration Day 2012 event that LeadForce estimates that roughly 17,618 business to business (B-to-B) leads are generated each month on LinkedIn. Twitter generates just over a third as many leads and Facebook is able to claim only one-quarter as many monthly leads as LinkedIn. Thus, joining, monitoring and responding to business requests in the numerous door and window and general building products oriented groups on LinkedIn would likely be more important for the time being than focusing on Facebook.

YouTube, meanwhile, is the second largest search engine in the world after Google, with some 3 billion videos watched daily. One outstanding way to make effective use of YouTube is to post videos highlighting the positive aspects of a product and showing how to install it. Whether the product is being sold into the DIY market or through dealers, there will always be someone somewhere who would benefit from seeing an actual installation of the company’s products. In one such video, the company filmed the installers in one unbroken shot with a stopwatch running at the bottom of the screen to demonstrate the speed with which the product could be installed.

It is inarguable that new social media still falls far short of the penetration of traditional media, especially television. Still, the new elements of social media are growing at an astounding rate. Groupon adds an average of one thousand new employees every month and its worldwide subscribers grow by 3 to 4 million people per week across 47 countries. Thus, the sales and marketing communication technique that brings you a new customer tomorrow is likely to be some form of traditional media such as print or television. For companies that aspire to success in the long-term, however, a strong social media presence will be of critical importance.

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