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The Rise and Rise of Social Media Marketing

29th July 2010

The rise of social media continues unabated as recent surveys have revealed that of the 38.2 million people online in the UK alone, 9 out of 10 people are on social networking sites with a 13% year on year increase.  Social media marketing positions are also on the rise as new positions are opening up across the market from the New York Times to Pizza Hut and the White House. 

Social media is increasingly being viewed as the way to directly engage with current and potential customers across the world and at a time when companies are increasingly looking to expand into emerging markets, social media may be one of the key tools to making it happen.  Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter provide a unique space for direct interaction, advertising, and creativity – the effect  of which has resonated from news channels to literary festivals with Stephen Fry judging the best ‘Tweet’ at the recent Guardian Hay festival. 

The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has already established 500 million users worldwide but knows that growth relies upon expansion into countries such as Russia, China, Japan, and Korea where Facebook is yet to be established as the leading social network.  It may be a tough challenge in China where Facebook often fails to break into the top 15 most popular sites and other networks like QZone, Baidu, and 51 are leading the way but the market is undoubtedly burgeoning in a country where social media is more popular than it is in the UK.  Around 25% of Chinese web users also access social networking sites via their mobile phones, and of the 4.5 billion adults worldwide 2 billion people are online - with 3 billion people accessing the web using mobiles.  According to the Information Technology Innovation Foundation South Korea also has the fastest and most developed broadband in the world, particularly in Seoul and the potential effect of advertising via social media could be fundamental. 

Social networking experts such as keynote speaker Clay Shirky who spoke at TED in January have commented on the effect that such a shift in interactive communication will have, not only on business per se, but also the revolutionary impact on innovative creativity and problem-solving.  Clay’s book ‘Here Comes Everybody’ released in 2008 discussed the influence of the internet as it became increasingly cheaper to implement and develop across the world, and his new work ‘How Cognitive Surplus Will Change the World’ looks at how we now spend more time online than we do watching TV and what this means for our society and where we are headed.  Clay describes the level of information that we share online and that we now have a co-ordinating and collaborative forum in the form of the internet where this ‘cognitive surplus’ can be gathered for the first time in history, affecting everything from information supplies to organising protests in every area from politics to economics, business and beyond.  As Clay says, “We live, for the first time in history, in a world where being part of a globally interconnected group is the normal case for most citizens.”

Experts such as Charles Leadbeater, ?What If!’s Matt Kingdon, and the futurologist and digital expert Ray Hammond are providing the guidance for how to be part of the social media storm in a way which can potentially revolutionise the communication and marketing brand of any company, from finance to fashion and the future of all businesses. 

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