Social media has changed the face of marketing forever. What was once a one-way message pushed from the company to the consumer has become a two-way conversation, requiring both parties to participate. Now your customers have a voice in the marketplace and their voices are loud and clear.
One study showed that an unhappy customer tells 11 people about their bad experience with a business.1 But that was before social media. I have more than 5,500 followers on Twitter, and 800 friends on Facebook, not to mention hundreds of followers on other social networks. If I’m not happy with a business, I have the ability to get the word out to thousands of people!
Because of the ease with which millions of people are now able to communicate with their hundreds of friends in mere seconds, social media or social networking is fast becoming a marketing powerhouse for many businesses. Not only that, but social media sites are also excellent places for businesses to meet potential virtual team members.
Social Media: What’s It All About?
Social media comes in many different forms including social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or MySpace; online forums such as Meetup; micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter or Google Buzz; social newsrooms such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon or Yahoo! Buzz; and photo sharing sites such as Flickr or Picasa.
There are even social media sites for online video sharing, including YouTube and Vimeo.
But the term “social media” also includes blogs, dynamic websites, optimized press releases and case studies, e-books, online magazines, white papers, Internet radio shows, Internet television shows and podcasts.
Basically, social media is anything that relies on person-to-person interaction to share information.
The beauty of social media platforms is that they are opt-in, meaning that people choose to receive communication from you by opting in to follow you or be your fan. This presents a huge opportunity: no longer is your communication limited to current customers. As long as people remain members of your social media networks, they can receive your messages days, months or even years after they’ve used your services.
Why Your Business Should Use Social Media Marketing
Social media has so many amazing benefits, but probably the biggest for small businesses is that it enables them to reach a much larger audience in a much shorter period of time than what typical advertising permits (unless, of course, you’ve got millions to blow on publicity!). For this reason, social media has become a very effective, low-cost marketing tool when it’s used the right way.
With social media, you can create new relationships, strengthen existing ones and leverage your time. You can even research your market, find your ideal customers and brand yourself.
When used properly, social media becomes a form of inbound marketing-every business owner’s dream. Suddenly clients are calling you because they’ve heard about you. Gone are the days of forceful advertising that leave you feeling like a sleazy telemarketer: you don’t have to push your company on anyone. Instead, let them come to you.
What Social Marketing Is Doing for Other Businesses
In the short time that social media has been around it has helped business owners do the following:
- Reach people who were previously difficult to reach
- Build new relationships with target consumers
- Improve website search engine rankings
- Create visibility and credibility, which equals profitability
- Monitor the environment to more quickly adjust to consumer needs and wants
- Improve satisfaction
- Keep up with the competition
Regardless of whether you use social media as a marketing tool, it is impacting your business right now. Your customers are talking about you whether you like it or not! It’s essential to the success of your business that you continually monitor the social media environment. Find out what people are saying about you so that you can respond appropriately and quickly.
So you’d better jump on the bandwagon and become a part of the conversation-before it’s too late!
Note: This is an excerpt from How to Build Buzz for Your Biz, Tap into the Power of Social Media, Publicity, and Relationship Marketing to Grow Your Business. Get $500 in free downloadable marketing resources when you purchase the book on Tuesday, September 21st from Amazon.com. Get more information at HowtoBuildBuzzforYourBiz.com.