Social Media and Your Business – it’s only a buzzword until you create a strategy

Miniwatts Marketing Group calculate that there are 6.94 billion people in the world and over 2 billion of them are connected to the internet. There are over 800 million Facebook accounts, which equates to almost half of all internet users and calculates to every 1 in 9 people in the world having a Facebook account. In fact, Facebook has so many active accounts that if it were a country, its population would make it the 3rd largest country in the world, after China and India.

Facebook isn’t the only social network with a large number of subscribers. In February of this year, YouTube advised that the site received 490 million unique visiting users every month. LinkedIn has over 101 millions users worldwide, Wikipedia currently hosts over 17 million articles, and Flickr hosts over 5 billion images and announced that there are approximately 3000 images uploaded every minute. In May of this year, there were on average 190 million tweets made each day, and there are nearly half a million new users signing up to Twitter each day. The most recent addition to social networks, Google+ was the fastest ever growing social network and in just a 16 day period 10 million accounts were created.

Theses statistics only cover the most popular social networking sites however, there are numerous other social networks created for niche markets who can also boast remarkable account numbers and statistical data.

With such a large audience of potential customers using social networks, it is vital for companies and organisations to utilise these networks to help establish their own brand and presence. Social networking can be implemented internally or through external channels, and can provide many benefits for companies. The cost to enter and participate in corporate social networking is minimal, the social network forum is an excellent place to obtain feedback from customers and clients, more effective leadership can be developed, there is more efficient access to expertise and resources, easier lead generation, and social networking use promotes more honest and open relationships with customers.

The 34th International Geological Congress (IGC), an impressive scientific forum run every 4 years by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), have set several key objectives and specific goals for their next conference which is scheduled for August, 2012.

Some of the key objectives and specific goals of the 34th IGC, as listed in their Strategic Communication and Outreach Plan include:

– Increase IUGS membership and IGC participation

– Disseminate information on the geological sciences

– Facilitate international and interdisciplinary cooperation

Also listed, and noted as a particularly broad yet important objective, is for an increased visibility of the geological sciences. This objective includes an increased awareness of geosciences amongst younger people, additional delegates to attend the conference, government and non government awareness, corporate awareness, financial investment and increased numbers choosing earth sciences as career path.

With only 300 days to go until the conference begins, hosts of the 2012 conference, the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), must establish a successful and meaningful online presence to market and promote the event and to reach the objectives and goals of the 34th IGC.

There are a couple of essential elements and strategies which the 34th IGC should follow to ensure the success of their online brand:

Establish social networking goals: Corporate social networking should be implemented and utilised for business goals, and these goals should be established early. Examples of such goals are to increase the potential customer base, to enhance the image of the company’s brand or to save costs on advertising. When American automotive giant, General Motors, developed their social networking presence, their social media directory Christopher Barger ensured to list the following objectives in their social media policy:

A. Become more responsive to people/consumer audiences
B. Incorporate audience/consumer feedback into your organization more quickly and effectively than has happened traditionally
C. Make your brand a little more “human” to the outside world, and show people the smarts, personality and passion of the people behind your logo
D. Increase awareness of the strength of your current product lineup, and provide perspective/accurate information about your company

Choose which social networking sites best represent the established goals: Potential social networking platforms should be evaluated against the established goals. For instance, MySpace is a popular site for upcoming musicians, and a talent agency would make better use of the active users in this social space.

The 34th IGC have endeavoured to connect with geologists worldwide and to increase awareness and membership of the IUGS, and their online presence should be represented by social networks which have an audience of geologists. Although there does not appear to be any active established geological science social networks, (a twitter account for the user Geology Network was once active and promised ‘dedicated social networking for geologists’, however the linked domain is now inactive and available for purchase), however there are numerous sites dedicated to all scientific fields, such as Scitable. There is also a geologist network currently established on LinkedIn which would assist the 34th IGC in reaching their objectives.

By considering the company goals and target audience, more success will be gained by the use of corporate social networking. As quoted by Brian Solis, the Principal Director of FutureWorks, “Social Media is about sociology and psychology more than technology”.


34th IGC. (2011). 34th IGC Australia 2012 – Strategic Communication and Outreach Plan. Retrieved October 9, 2011

34th IGC. (2011). 34th IGC – Home. Retrieved September 23, 2011

Australian Geoscience Council. (2011). Home. Retrieved September 23, 2011

Facebook. (2011). Facebook – Statistics. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Husain, I. (2011). Managing Your Social Network Addiction. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Jameson, N. (2011). 7 Essential Elements of a Business Social Networking Strategy. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Jeffbullas’s Blog. (2011).  20 Stunning Social Media Statistics Plus Info graphic. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Lauby, S. (2011). How to: Implement a Social Media Business Strategy. Retrieved October 9, 2011

LinkedIn. (2011). Geologist Network. Retrieved October 9, 2011

McDonald, D. (2011). How to Develop a Business-Aligned Social Media & Social Networking Strategy. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Miniwatts Marketing Group. (2011). Internet World Stats. Retrieved October 9, 2011

MirnaBard. (2011). 99 Favourite Social Media Quotes and Tips. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Nature Education. (2011). Sciable – Home. Retrieved October 9, 2011

O’Reilly, T. (2005). Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Shin, N. (2011). Why business should use social media. Retrieved October 9, 2011

Verde, A. (2011). LinkedIn demographics and statistics – 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011

8 Responses to Social Media and Your Business – it’s only a buzzword until you create a strategy

  1. RyanFloodISC says:

    Get post, Nikki. I totally agree with your note on “Choosing which social networking sites best represent the established goals” – I spoke about something similar ( )

    Would you suggest the IGC to take a more personal approach to social networking such as posting in the first person for a more intimate interaction or the wider adopted mass communication?

    Once again, very enjoyable post.

    • Nikki says:

      Good question! Keeping in mind the IGC’s objectives, such as the need for clarity in understanding global change and to disseminate information on the geological sciences, I think the social networking approach should be very attentive, friendly, personal and easily understandable. This will engage a wider audience and hopefully fulfil another objective of attracting people to the geological sciences as a career.

      Saying that however, the representatives managing the social networking accounts need to ensure they aren’t *too* casual and that they try to keep updates as professional as possible. The congress represents a long-standing, professional, scientific body, and statements should remain factual and also remain scientifically technical enough to appeal to the geological community. The main target audience should in fact be the geological community.

      Thanks for the comment, and your blog post sounds interesting – I will definitely be checking it out!


  2. Great post! The statistics of the popular Web 2.0 tools is really amazing!
    There are so many people using these tools, so the organisation should use them well to gain profits.

    • Nikki says:

      Thanks for the comment! I am still amazed at some of the social networking statistics I found while researching this blog post; it is incredible to so how large social networking has grown and how quickly and easily it has been integrated into daily life. I recall reading that 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, and 28% do so before even getting out of bed!

      If businesses don’t take advantage of the online marketing opportunities which social networks present to them, they will certainly be missing out on many things, including increased sales, better product development and potentially happier employees!


  3. Organisation should take advantages of this social networking tools to advertise their businesses to maximise profits. Great post !

  4. pip says:

    That is a great post,very detailed analyse social media tools with IGC.I was wondering besides myspace,is there any other social media tools IGC can use ?For example,what do you think about facebook and google docs.

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Pip,

      I don’t think the 34th IGC should use MySpace. I actually mentioned that a talent agency would make good use of the active users in MySpace as this particular social networking site targets the niche market of musicians. When using social networking in enterprise environments, companies must choose platforms which represent their own interests and goals, and this is no different for the 34th IGC. In order to successfully promote the congress and raise awareness of the IUGS, the 34th IGC should be marketing in social network spaces which attract geologists, sponsors, governments and members of the general public who are interested in geology and the earth sciences.

      Scitable is a social networking and collaborative learning space targeted at professionals in all scientific industries, and would be a great social space for the 34th IGC to use for knowledge sharing and professional networking. I think joining the geologist network on LinkedIn is vital for the 34th IGC to attract delegates and geologists, and regular micro-blogs on a platform such as Twitter would be ideal leading up to and during the conference to engage delegates and attendees. I don’t think Google Docs is necessary to use as this platform does not achieve any of the 34th IGC’s specific objectives or goals. Companies must ensure they do not overuse social networking and Web 2.0 tools just because everyone else is using the platform – valid, company-specific reasons and goals should be established for each social networking platform used.

      Saying that however, I do think that a page for the 34th IGC should be created on Facebook as the sheer number of active users in this space make is a plausible environment to attract the necessary audiences. Through the use of tailored Facebook ads, the 34th IGC could directly advertise to their target audience.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. janithd says:

    Great post….
    U mentioned in detailing…its very good…

    Anyhow…Good work…


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