I was responsible many years ago for taking forward the development of my then employers first website. This was the mid to late 1990s and websites were becoming the latest “must-have” in every communications plan. Part of my ambition was to ensure I linked to local information and so I embarked on a tour of local stakeholders to secure their co-operation and input.
When I set out my plans for a national website with critical local information and links to one local stakeholder (who shall remain nameless) they responded along the lines of:
“That’s all very nice and all, but are you telling me any of my local businesses are going to be bothered to switch on their computers […SWITCH ON!] to look up some information they could get in the yellow pages? I don’t think so!”
Over 20 years later I think we all know what’s happened to the Yellow Pages. The point of telling this tale is to highlight how badly my contact back in those days underestimated both the importance and potential impact of the web, and to draw comparisons with businesses today who underestimate the importance and impact of social media.
Social media technology is now well over 20 years old. It is not a young upstart technology anymore and neither is it the exclusive preserve of IT geeks, silicon-valley dot com start-ups and teenagers.
Social media is a pervasive communications tool accessed by 45 million people across the UK. Yes, 45 million or 67% of the entire UK population. 39 million of these people access social media on mobile devices.
And while there is a general trend for internet and social-media use to be more prevalent amongst younger demographics, recent UK Government statistics blow out of the water any notions that older people are simply not using social media and the internet.
- 93% of UK households have internet access
- 84% of those households have mobile internet access – ie smart-phone or tablet
- 87% of ALL adults used the internet daily, or almost every day
- 61% of adults over 65 years used the internet daily
- 83% of those in the 65-74 years bracket were internet users (up from 52% in 2011)
- 54% (more than half) of adults aged 65 years or more shopped online
- 52% of those aged 75 and over use Facebook
The stark reality facing all businesses today as they strive to compete in today’s challenging market is that social media use is not a passing fad. For bakers, the power of social media to reach out to your local communities is more powerful than any other media platform.
The way in which social media can tell stories and create engagement with your existing customers, and reach out to connect with new customers, is tangible. If your business is not on social media, then, arguably, it may as well be invisible.
Social media is not the future, it is now.