Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are another area of the internet that has exploded in usage these last few years. The pervasiveness of the internet – with hundreds of millions of people now using internet-enabled cell phones and other portable devices – has enabled communication and interaction in ways previously undreamed of.
For today’s business owner, the marketing implications of these applications are profound. Consumers 18-34 years old spend over four times as much time on social media than on TV, newspaper, radio, books and magazines combined. This is because social media users prefer communicating with each other, as opposed to simply just being communicated to. This interaction has a free-flowing conversational aspect to it which not only allows, but encourages, the ongoing exchange of information between connected participants. Communication builds community, and along with community comes trust.
Businesses now have access to these new tools that can help them easily and inexpensively reach out and touch their customers, helping maintain brand awareness and increasing sales. When implemented correctly, a social media marketing program can help businesses become a valued and trusted participant in discussions in local cyberspace, or even form local online followings of their own.
Envision this: You’re a small business owner whose local customer base includes some of that 18-34 year old demographic. You set up a branded Facebook page and begin attracting Facebook users to it. Most of them actually live in your area and, because they’re familiar with you via your Facebook site, some visit your store and patronize your business. You’re now thinking about opening a Twitter account and developing another local following there, from which you can “tweet” brief items of interest to them over their phones or PCs – including, of course, the occasional “Today Only!” special. Can you see where your sales are headed?