Social Media: What’s in it for you?

Social media benefits

Are you confused about social media? You’re not alone.

When asked “what’s your understanding of social media?,” here are some of the responses offered in answer to the question. It is:

• A date site
• For social events
• Only for teens
• Confusing
• Creepy
• For connecting with old high school friends

If you’re thinking that way, think again. Social media it a great marketing tool for small businesses. With it, you can reach out to prospects that you may not have had access to in the past.

For those who are on the fence about whether or not to dive in, continue reading and perhaps you’ll be encouraged to take the plunge.

Why do you want to do social media?

Whether a total newbie or a beginner, according to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, here are what respondents indicated were the 4 leading benefits of social media marketing:

1. Generating exposure for their business. (NOTE: Owners of small businesses were more likely than others to report greater exposure.)
2. Increasing traffic to their Web site.
3. Building new business partnerships.
4. Improving search engine rankings.

Why Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

While there are many facets to social media such as article submission and blogging, the one you hear on the tip of everyone’s tongues is social networking – specifically, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

These networks are great for word-of-mouth marketing – one of the best marketing methods around! People post their suggestions . . . retweet your posts . . . help spread the word.

According to the American Express OPEN and Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)’s “Small Business Search Marketing Survey,” the reliance on word-of-mouth – likely along with the low cost in dollars of participating – has led small businesses to make social media their No. 2 online marketing effort, after company websites. (NOTE: In this survey, social media was defined as Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

With 78% of consumers trusting peer recommendations (vs 14% who trust advertisers), these networks are a smart tactic for increasing your exposure and gaining the trust of others.

Still on the fence? Consider these statistics:

• With more than 500 million users, 1 in every 13 people on earth uses Facebook.
• If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest.
• 71% of companies used Facebook in 2010.
• There are 200 million registered users on Twitter as of Jan. 2011.
• 25 billion tweets were sent on Twitter in 2010.
• 95 million tweets were written per day as of Sept. 2010. 140 million is the average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.
• The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn, has more than 90 million members in over 200 countries.
• 93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media.

With numbers like these, it becomes clearer that social networking is where people are at. It’s a viable medium for reaching out to and engaging with prospects you may not have had conversations with before. Give them the opportunity to know, like and trust you and you open the doors to new relationships.

Are you confused about social media? Share your experience or comments here. I’d love to hear from you.