A Business Must: Social Media

Do you find yourself lost in the tidal wave of what’s become social media? Facebook, Twitter and Google+ among some, have completely changed the way businesses advertise on the web. How do you know which one suits you the best though? In this post, I’m going to lay out a few of the best social media sites for small business owners, and why.

First off, when considering your online marketing strategy, your website MUST come first. Think of it as sort of a “base camp” that you will connect to/from any number of external points. Your website is property owned by you, whereas social media pages are owned by someone else. Look at social media sites as simply a vehicle to get your message out there and drive traffic back to what you have control over. Still, getting “social” is an important component to any marketing plan.

Quick fact: Did you know… there are more than 100 thriving social media sites online right now and more popping up every single day? Yeah, that’s a lot.

1. Facebook

Launched in February 2004 for college students, Facebook has come a long way in a short seven years. Now with an estimated 800 million active users it is ranked as the most used social networking service in the world (by the number of active monthly users).

Lucky for you, starting a business page - and tapping into the power of Facebook – is pretty easy. Once your page is created, users ‘like’ it (opt-in to get your posts) and your news will be posted to their ‘wall.’

The Facebook interface makes it easy for your fans to ‘like’ or share your posts and when they do, their friends (the average user has 130 friends) will see this activity, therefore putting your brand in front of an audience you may not normally have access to.

2. Twitter

A micro-blogging social media site that has been around since 2004, Twitter has an estimated 300 million user’s world-wide. It has been described as SMS of the internet, because posts are short, sweet and to-the-point.

Twitter is a tidal wave of information. Posts come in at 140 characters or less and can be organized via hashtags (#). Topics range from totally practical(#workouts) to the absolutely absurd (#ThoseTeethThough).

Twitter differs from Facebook in that users ‘follow’ each other. If someone follows you, you can follow them back. Therefore it is easier to gain a following, but the followers are not as targeted as they are on Facebook.

I have found that Twitter is an awesome way to connect with people and/or other businesses participating in the same event. Following a hashtag at a concert, live performance or webinar creates a richer experience. As a business owner you can utilize this at events your company participates in – try it! – I’ll bet you’d be blown away by the response.

3. YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing social media site that is owned by Google. There are more than 48 hours of new video uploaded to the site every minute. As a small business owner, using video in your online marketing strategy – and the back-end key words of your YouTube video - is just as important as your other online strategies.

YouTube recently announced YouTube for schools and I predict more ‘stations’ will be rolling out in the future.

4. Google+

Google is a power house (and personally, my most favorite company). Originally launched as a search engine company in 1996, Google has continually added, updated and created new products that will appeal to its 1 billion unique visitors per month. Re-read that…1 BILLION PER MONTH.

Google Plus was introduced in June 2011 for personal use and in November 2011 was opened to brands. Some of the features of Google+ include: Circles, Hangouts, Messenger, Instant Upload, Hashtags and more. These products are definitely designed with the user in mind.

Also, adding your business and marketing your brand on Google+ is a great way to increase your search engine rankings.

5. LinkedIn

Founded in 2002 and launched in 2003, LinkedIn is the most professional business-to-business social networking site. LinkedIn gets 2 new members every second, putting it at 135 million active users in more than 200 countries.

Traditionally viewed as the premier spot to place your resume online and search for a job, LinkedIn has grown into a robust networking site. From job listings to interest groups (there are more than 870K groups) there are great benefits to keeping your profile up-to-date. Look at it like a business after hours event…. put on your suit, add a smile to your face and be on your best behavior because you never know what kind of business leads you’re going to get.

I always recommend dedicating an hour or so a week maintaining your LinkedIn profile. Also, be sure to add your company listing, and update it as well. In other words, use your LinkedIn company profile page like a resume for your business.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

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