The Extreme Significance of Social Media in Business Today!
Social media... it's all of the rage today! It's increasingly being a more integral section of people's everyday lives, especially now that people can carry the planet in their pockets with mobile phones which can be Web enabled and have data packages. Since these day there are over two billion people -- nearly one-third the entire world's population -- connected via social networking, it has become crucial, even critical, for businesses to take advantage of the huge potential given for them by social media. Those that fail to take advantage of this trend achieve this at their own peril!
Dejavu All Over Again!
Some say we're seeing the repeat of trends we saw at the turn of the century... around again. Although the Internet as a communication tool began October 29, 1969, celebrating the first communication between two distant computers, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in March of 1989, giving us the hyper-text markup language (HTML) that enables pages, links and browsers used throughout the world to connect to each other. In the season 2000, the Web as we all know it absolutely was only eleven years old Picuki. Businesses were beginning to understand that the Internet was becoming bigger and bigger and was moving beyond the military (its original user), academia and business, and increasingly into people's homes (and now... even their pockets!) Online shopping was gradually gaining on brick and mortar retail, competing more and more for shoppers' dollars. Businesses that took advantageous asset of the trend became more successful, whereas those who didn't suffered as their competitors beat them in the web marketplace.
Good examples that have made the news headlines recently include Borders Books and Blockbuster Video. Borders didn't believe the Web would become as large as it's and was soon upstaged by Amazon, who began utilizing their online platform for books and now sell nearly everything. Blockbuster Video, once noticed in so many communities, has now closed so many of their brick and mortar stores since Netflix came on the scene. Had it not been for Dish Network stepping in, most Blockbuster stores could have had to close. Now their wanting to win back Netflix customers angered over recent fee hikes. Blockbuster is hoping to keep viable and relevant with their newest program.
Return on Investment... Bang for Your Buck!
The key point is that we're seeing a similar trend running a business today with regard to social media. Business is beginning to "humanize" and return to that "get-to-know-you" feel of hometown businesses where business owners and customers often actually connect on your own basis. Social media marketing is helping to create this personal feel on a much larger scale now, in the sense that people can stay digitally more connected than ever... even while they "cocoon" in their homes/offices and have less face-to-face communication.
While we are able to argue the ill social effects of that social trend, businesses can't ignore it. By the nature of what they do, those involved in network marketing, a.k.a. affiliate marketing or multi-level marketing, certainly can't ignore it as a primary tool for building down lines and expanding their business beyond their warm market of family and friends, many of whom may or may possibly not be enthusiastic about a home-based business or work-at-home business opportunity, however quickly growing that trend is. The social networking explosion is getting more and more attention. Business leaders are talking about it, authors are writing about it, and some say it's just the beginning.
Business trend experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy, say that we're seeing the "calm ahead of the social networking storm" (see the link to his MSNBC interview on YouTube at the conclusion of the "LinkedIn" discussion below. It'll blow your brain what this person knows and envisions about the ability of social networking for business!). Many people in the business world haven't yet jumped into social media. They're sizing it down and calculating the return on investment... not realizing that the longer they wait, the more they stand to reduce from the enormous potential of to be able to manage to get thier brand, product(s), and service(s) out facing potentially millions of people in an incredibly cost effective way in comparison to traditional print and TV advertising media. Branding, name recognition, market share growth, customer loyalty, brand ambassadorship... are all important goals of business enhanced via social media.
But We Have a Website!
Individual entrepreneurs, companies large and small, organizations, network marketers, affiliate programs, even nonprofit organizations that believe that having a web page is enough of an on line presence these days are sorely mistaken. Since so many current and potential customers and clients are engaged in social networking, they're coming to anticipate more and more that businesses and organizations they associate with will also be in a position to engage with them on social networking platforms. This worldwide recession we are in is making social networking platforms more important to stay relevant... to keep a presence, build customer loyalty, and just survive.
I'm Broke... I Have a Limited Budget!
Those on a small marketing budget will find out that social networking marketing is quite cost-effective, with a good return on investment in comparison to traditional, non-trackable forms of advertising. Having a member of staff devote even section of his/her time keeping social networking updated is really worth the time and effort and expense in the added, perceived value it will generate, providing information regarding your products, services, news, sales, deals, etc., and potentially increasing your customer/client base tremendously in the process.
Blogging, for example, is a good way to create an outreach program for your brand, company, organization, etc., that'll not only raise awareness of who you're and everything you do, but increase your credibility by having an ever-growing, social-media-savvy public. They will have the ability to generally share both positives and negatives about their experience with your products and/or service, particularly if you react to them. They will develop more confidence in your brand, feel more connected to you, and develop more loyalty. They will much more likely end up being the willing ambassadors for your brand, product, or service you want them to be! Also... people who DO have a web page, which is normally used to supply information, take orders, etc., will in all probability see increased traffic on the sites which can lead to increased sales... and an increase in your return on the investment you produced in your social networking campaigns. On top of that is that many social networking platforms are available FOR FREE, or with little actual monetary investment strongly related other styles of traditional advertising, and with greater return on investment.
A Growing Trend... Better Jump On the Bandwagon!
Some estimate how many social networking sites at 30,000 and growing by 300 new sites per month! So, to avoid the pitfalls of starting at the wrong place, the very best places to begin are with the current top giants, like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. You need your customers to get at know you first. You want to share useful information with them... information that is educational, informative, entertaining, even funny... but valuable You don't might like to do outright selling of your goods and services in social networking, which is more for engaging your customers or potential customers. You want to lead your customers to your website, and that is where you can do your selling!
Facing the Giants!
Twitter is among the fastest growing, on-the-fly social networking platforms, with some 200 million users, 460 thousand new accounts daily, and 1 billion tweets weekly! This medium enables you to post instant updates on nearly every topic you wish, alerting all people who "follow" you closest, or your most loyal "fans" from Facebook or most loyal customers/clients who use your services most frequently. And... it's free!
Facebook, by having an estimated membership now over 955 million users (revised June, 2012), 50% of them logging on every day on average around 30 minutes to one hour, is DEFINITELY the king of social networking today and an audience you want to get facing! If Facebook were a nation, it would be the third largest on the planet! 543 million mobile users access Facebook regularly. 40% of Facebook users become "fans" of products and services. So, you'll need a Facebook fan/business page. Facebook has built in metrics, scheduled posting, and other new features for business pages that make them a must!
YouTube is the next largest internet search engine to Google, and is obviously owned by Google now. Over 4 billion videos are streamed daily, with 60 hours of new footage being added each minute! Four billion hours of video are watched per month. The average YouTube user spends 15 minutes per day on YouTube. Obviously, this represents another huge marketing opportunity for those wanting to get themselves facing an audience... and again, it's free!
LinkedIn, which just went public spring of 2011 and currently (mid-2012) has over 175 million users in over 200 countries. Although geared more towards the networking of professionals, it still represents a good way to network with people and get your business promoted. People in your network can refer and recommend you to others, thereby giving you more credibility. LinkedIn is the number one B2B networking site, and has been used as a lead generation/marketing and recruiting tool!
Another important fact to consider is that Google just redesigned its search algorithm to favor more "organic", that is, naturally ocurring backlinks to your website in order to move you higher through to their internet search engine return pages (SERPS). They favor very highly now the forms of social mentions received via social media. So, that is another way to gain internet search engine optimization (called "SEO")... by building on your social networking use!