Facebook, Social Media and the Decision Makers of Tomorrow
[By Tony Popowski]
I’ll never forget it – It was the year 2004 and I was a freshman at Villanova University. It was a bright and sunny day outside and I had just gotten back to my room from history class. I walked by my roommate who was furiously tapping his controller playing the videogame Halo and sat down at my desk with a brain exhausted from analyzing 16th century Chinese civilization. I proceeded to open my computer and checked my email. At the top of my Inbox was a message with the subject line “Facebook.” I opened up the email and read:
We cordially invite you to join a new social networking site called Facebook. Facebook allows you to upload personal information into your profile and connect with your classmates and friends. You can update your connections with…
Okay, so that might be a little paraphrased, but you get the idea. Fast-forward to 2010: everyday when I get up in the morning, I check my Facebook Page. When I make plans for the weekend, I message my friends on Facebook. If I want to know when someone’s birthday, I check Facebook. Admittedly, I also use Facebook to find out who’s dating who (or who’s breaking up). Finally, if I want to know more about a particular subject or information about a company, I look for their Facebook page… and if a company doesn’t have a Facebook page, I wonder why.
The other day, I was at a networking event telling this same story. Bradley, an older businessman not too keen on social media, said:
Well you’re young. You’re not a decision maker, so why should I care if you’re on Facebook or not? I don’t get this social media fad… it just doesn’t apply to business.
Unfortunately, this is a very common attitude I see. However, I was more than happy to respond. I said:
Bradley, I completely understand your concern. However, I want you to take three things into consideration before we discuss this issue further:
• Facebook isn’t for college students anymore. Facebook has over 500,000,000 users now (that’s bigger than the populations of Japan, Russia, Nigeria and Turkey combined). Over 60% of those users are 26 and older. Not only is that number continuously rising, but the fastest growing age bracket of Facebook is people ages 55 and higher. In fact, new Facebook profiles for women ages 55 and older grew 175% in the past two years. (Yes, I talk about these stats so often I actually do know them by heart).
• It is true that I’m not the decision maker in my company, but does that mean I don’t have any influence? If I learn about something that I believe is going to cut costs or help our team improve, I am going to tell my Director. She, the decision maker, values my opinion. Think about commercials for children’s toys. They’re very flashy and fun and appeal directly to children (influencers), not parents (decision makers). While children don’t buy the toys directly, they run up to their parents and scream, “I WANT A NEW NINJA TURTLE TOY!” The same thinking applies.
• Finally, the most important point, I’m not the decision maker today – but I will be in the future. My generation lived through the technology boom. I made up my first screen name when I was 10 and haven’t turned back since. Facebook and social media is a daily routine for me and everyone else I know.
I concluded by asking Bradley, “What is your business going to do in ten years when I, both the decision maker and an active social media user, buy into your competitor’s brand through Facebook and social networking sites while you’re not on there?”
Needless to say, Bradley didn’t have a response. I could tell that what I said resonated with him, which is great. It’s important to remember that business is constantly changing, especially marketing and sales. Keeping an open mind and trying new techniques like Facebook and social media will help you connect with your target market, the influencers of your target market and your future target market.
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