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Think BR: Ain't got the time, ain't got the money

Don't let time and money come between you and social media, writes Tara Beard-Knowland, director, Ipsos ASI.

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On 21 June, results from the second wave of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Social Media Benchmark (#smbenchmark) sponsored by Ipsos ASI and others were presented at Bloomberg in London.

As in wave one, we saw time and money come up again and again as significant barriers to usage and measurement.

When I see that marketers say they don’t have the money or time, I wonder what it is they expect to do in the future.

Nearly half of survey respondents in the UK said they don’t have the budget, 57% say they don’t have the time to get involved in social media, and a further 57% claim there is low staff resource to take on anything new.

Looking at this, I’m starting to wonder if it is an excuse or just a mental barrier that many marketers are putting up.

The truth of the matter is that we live in a fast-paced world where money and time are always at a premium.

But the brands, companies and organisations that are thinking about the future know that time and money should not hold them back from engaging in social media.

Because social media is the future, not just a fad. At Ipsos, we saw in our Youth in Transition study last year how social media were an engrained part of young people’s lives.

Social media address a fundamental human need: people want to communicate and connect with others.

Note that I said people, not consumers. This distinction is important to the overall long-term success of social media because it is about how people communicate and interact with one another and with the world, not (or at least not only) about how they interact with brands or organisations. 

Imagine what happens when this generation is an older generation. How much more critical will social media be as a way to connect, be it with consumers, colleagues, clients, friends or family? The simple answer: a lot.

So, once we acknowledge that this is real, not just a fad, we need to embrace it. This can be quite daunting because it is new.

I suspect that one of the reasons many marketers say they don’t have time or money to invest is that they are only too aware that they need to learn quite a lot about how social works.

Recognition of this challenge is good. If it were easy, everything would go viral and there would be virtually no need for curation.

But, for every piece of content that goes viral, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, that just don’t.

And, you’ve probably seen the graphics of the hundreds upon thousands of varieties of social media platforms. You have to respect that, but it’s overwhelming.

So, what are the steps you can take to help you feel braver about jumping into social media, or even dipping your toe in the water?

The single most important one - which was reinforced by many of the speakers, including myself, at the Social Media Benchmark - is to have a strategy, whether that is to drive awareness, engagement, customer service, or something else entirely.

And here’s the kicker: if you know what you want to do, it’s much easier to know how to measure it as well. We saw in the survey that 43% of marketers said they didn’t have the budget to purchase tools and 52% said that there wasn’t time to run the analysis.

It’s true you need time at a bare minimum, and budget can buy you some time from someone else if you haven’t got it yourself.

But I’d argue that if you know what it is that you want to accomplish, you will spend less time and less money because you will be measuring what matters, rather than measuring a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter to your organisation at all.

Until you’ve got your strategy set, don’t worry about what platforms you’re going to use. The strategy itself shouldn’t be about platforms.

They may come and go just as much as print titles, television channels, television shows, etc, come and go. Even if one of today’s major platforms weren’t operating in ten years, that would not mean the failure of social media; it would mean the failure of one ‘channel’ within social.

Once you know what you want to do, then you can choose the platforms to do it with. Start small and become an expert in one or two instead of casting the net wide and shallow.

So, if you’re not using social, consider it (with a strategy). If you’re using it now, think about how to take it to the next level.

Yes, social media takes time or money or both. So does TV, so does print, so does every other medium. It’s great that marketers recognise the time and money challenge, but not so great if it’s holding them back.

Social media can be overwhelming and many-headed, but I encourage marketers the world over to be brave and take the first step now, rather than two years from now when you’ll be playing catch-up, or five years from now when you’ll be significantly behind.

Tara Beard-Knowland, director, Ipsos ASI

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