Canadians love to connect and engage online, as statistics prove that Canada leads other developed countries in social media engagement and internet usage. Over 62% of Canadians over the age of 13 are on various Social Networks. Even more interesting thing about Canadians is was over 79% of Canadians between the ages of 16-26 are on Social Media networks. Gen Y adapted social media faster and they are comfortable with technology. Gen Y loves to be online 24/7 and stay connected with their circle of influence. Over 50% Canadians are registered to more than one Social Media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc.)
Social media engagement in Canada differs from province to province. Quebec is the least connected province with only 49% of population is connected on Social Media Platforms. Most connected province is Ontario with over 67% of the population is on Social Media. Also, 3 most well connected cities in Canada are Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa where social media engagement beats every other Canadian city.
Canadians love to watch online video, also like share the content and making videos themselves. Video sharing and watching is even more wide spread then engaging on different Social Media networks. Over 69% Canadians actively engage through watching videos, or sharing them online or uploading them. Canadians love good content and they value it by sharing it with their friends and family. Over 45% read blogs and over 21% listen to online podcast. This is the reason that content rich social media platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest and other blogging platforms are gaining popularity in Canada.
If we break it down to different demographics then women outrank men in Social Media engagement. Over 70% of female users are on Facebook every week comparing to only 56% of men who checked their Facebook in past week. Women are information hungry demographic, they outrank men in online searches, participation, posting and sharing information. One very important factor which was also highlighted in statistics was difference in Social Media usage in different income level groups. Socio-Economic situation of different demographics also reflect some changes in behaviors. Low income housing, or selected demographics with limited economic resources perform poorly comparing to their other Canadian counterparts when it comes to online engagement and their adaption to Internet.
Our online behaviors have changed and what we do online. Beside providing basic need for human engagement, Social Media also facilitates other community services, events, & E-Commerce. Social Media is not just for fun, it also provides a great communication tool when it comes to emergency situations. Over 59% of people think Social Media is the best tool to reach friends and family in emergencies. Over 32% Canadians believe that 911 service should be offered through Social Media channels too. Major Canadian Non-Profits are also relaying heavily on Social Media to help them reduce communication and administrative barriers. Social Media is becoming a very strong fund raising platform and Canadian Non-Profits have failed to take advantage from it yet.
What Canadian Businesses Should Be Doing
Looking at the recent statistics, Canadian Businesses should be jumping on the Social Media Train before it passes by and their competition gets ahead. Because if you are not proactive enough to make sure that your business got an amazing online presence then you are taking your business in a wrong direction. Behaviors are changing and Canadians are leaving the traditional forms of engagement behind and catching up on Mobile, Search, and Social Media. Gen Y sees Social Media platforms as an asset, and very important to stay connected with the outside world. Gen Y is the most engaged group on Social Media and yet Canadian businesses have failed to connect with them on a personal level and make their brand presence relevant to them.
Gen Y will be the segment with major spending power for next few decades and yet Canadian Businesses failed to understand how to engage them online. Not only Gen Y but Gen X is also catching up to learn Social Media as a communication tool and they are also using Social Media actively to connect with their friends and community. Different demographics engage on different platforms and where they feel that they have found a community. There are different platforms which offer different communication and content sharing capabilities which will help you to be there where your potential customers are.
Your Business should be on all the major Social Media platforms. Once you are there and then create some sort of Social Proof which will be followed by engaging consumers. Consumers look for general information and trusted authority in the industry to get industry related information. For example: Someone looking for second mortgage in Calgary. Online behaviors tell us that consumers will end up searching for it on search engines and major social media platforms. If your business is active and got a good online presence there are chances that you will end up with a solid lead and your competition will miss out.
Over 47% Canadian Business owners recognize that Social Media will help their business, but only 39% have some sort of online presence and just 24% of Canadian Businesses engage their consumers daily on Social Media. Take Action; Make a solid Social Media plan and either spend human resources to implement it or hire an outside agency to do it for you. Canadians spend most time on the Social networking sites: Over 44 hours a every month, which is more than any other European or North American country. Canada got one of the most advanced broadband network with over 96% of Canada can access internet from their home.
Canadian Businesses are taking too long to adapt to this changing consumer behavior. Big brands are winning over consumers by engaging them on Social Media. Canadian businesses think they still control local turf and rule their niches, but the harsh reality is small and medium sized businesses have suffered greatly by not having an effective online marketing strategy.
Action Plan For Canadian Businesses
Consumers are harnessing collective power of knowledge to come together and engage. With amazing opportunities Social Media presents for Canadian Businesses we have prepared an action plan for you implement and grow your business further:
1. Create 25 Powerful Social Media Messages
Create something which your customer would love to read about. Something interesting and exciting. It can be questions or pictures or any relevant content through which you can engage your potential consumers. For example: a Plumber can have 25 pieces of quality content regarding common plumbing problems. Or local Toronto lock smith with 25 daily tips on lock safety.
2. Social Media Profiles
With your business email address create Social Media profiles on the platforms. Make sure profile pictures, description, graphics, colors align well with your brand image. Information like operating hours, product information, about the staff, parking, owners etc. should also be available for consumers. Publish that 25 custom pieces of content you generated over next 30 days. 1 article or update a day with taking a break on Sunday. This 25 posts will give you social proof and credibility.
3. Create a Video
Create a video about your product or a service. You can give a full 2 page article information in just 5 minutes of video. Youtube and other video sharing platform got a strong 1.5 billion subscribers. Publish your video on all Social Media platforms.
4. Be Human
We are social and emotional beings. We tend to associate ourselves with different religions, beliefs, brands, etc. This gives a great opportunity to Canadian businesses to stand up for the values which Canadians believe in.
5. Do Awesome Stuff Locally
This is one thing which Small and Medium size businesses lack the most. They fail to connect with local volunteer groups, food banks, religious organizations etc. By developing strong relationships with local organizations you can build trust and relationship which will benefit your business in a long run. You can build programs where your employees can go every month to volunteer at a local food back or any other non profit organization.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.