Social Networking

Using social networking websites as part of your business marketing activity poses some challenges and holds great potential for engaging with your customers/suppliers/fans in powerful and sharable ways.

Key social networking sites being considered in The RITE Series are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

There are other social networks but these three are the dominant entities at the time of this project (July-October 2011). Google has also launched Google Plus but it is too early to determine consumer habits in this space and therefore it is worth noting that this might become a key player and worth exploring when you get a chance.

Northern Territory social network engagement

Some business people in the Top End claim social networking is not used enough by locals to warrant ‘wasting time’ on it, or they claim it is only used by kids or used in Darwin, etc.

In my workshops, I suggest that if your competitors are the ones making those noises, let them hold that view while you learn the new tools and position yourself ready for ‘The Social Customer’.

However, as facilitator of The RITE Series, my role is to urge all Territorian business owners to at least take a fresh look at developments in the social space before deciding whether or not social networks have a role to play in their marketing activity.

Facebook

As at July, 2011, Facebook users who identify themselves as Territorians number 69,000, about one in three of the population. Of these people, 50,000 are based in Darwin, representing two in five of the Darwin population. (However, as many Territorians are originally from other states, this number should be considered conservative because many members of Facebook would be unlikely to change their profile data during their time in the Top End.)

This figure is a little behind the national average of one in two Australians being members of Facebook. There are 10.4 million Australian members of the social network, from a population of 21.8 million.

Interestingly, half of NT Facebook users are aged 35+ with a slight skew to females. In more urban areas, like Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine, more than 40 percent of the population uses Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter is that social network where users broadcast messages using 140 characters or less – similar to the length of SMS messages.

Twitter statistics are the most rubbery of all the social networks as researchers need to merge insights from various tools with value judgements made based on their experience and observations across the field.

There are approximately 2.5 million Twitter accounts in Australia with most of them based in NSW and Victoria. It appears close to 1,000 people are Twitter users in the NT.

Does this small number mean we can ignore Twitter? I would argue the answer is no because the service offers strategic importance as a link and SEO authority building tool. Google closely watches the Twitterstream and companies using it as a broadcast channel with keywords and links pointing back to their own web property can still reap rewards from the tool.

And don’t forget those consumers in areas outside the Top End where there is a higher saturation of Twits (or Tweeps). If your business needs these markets, Twitter may well prove to be an invaluable tool.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business networking, social network tool, where your profile is typically made up of elements traditionally placed in your CV. You list your current and past employers (or businesses), education achievements, links to your company website and, over time, your connections to other people in LinkedIn. You also seek and share referrals or recommendations to and from others.

More than 8,000 NT professionals have LinkedIn profiles, the majority in Darwin with heavy usage between RIO Tinto staff around Nhulunbuy (thanks to Creative Territory for that insight).

LinkedIn offers opportunities for networking with potential customers, suppliers, employers and staff, and some reports suggest that people mainly become active on the site when job hunting or recruiting.