For small and midsize businesses today, using social media is no longer a question of why, but when. The average U.S. user now spends about eight hours a month on Facebook: some 15 minutes every day. While there is no guarantee that a specific social media site will retain its popularity, the Facebook idea—the use of the Internet for interactive communication and engagement—is here to stay.
With so many people flocking to these sites, having a social media presence is like locating your business in a prime location with easy access to highways, mass transit, etc. You create more opportunity for more people to learn about you and what your business offers by:
- Reaching more potential customers: customers can search for you and view the recommendations of friends.
- Staying in touch with existing customers: tweets, blog posts, etc. all offer a way to stay in touch and provide value.
- Enhancing your professional relationships and partnerships: networking with colleagues and leading groups focused on your business or industry raises your stature.
- Getting more traffic on your website: having links to your website, on your social media pages (and on the pages of people connected to you) can all generate more traffic.
- Increasing your rankings in search engines: more content on social media sites means more links to you, which raises your rankings in search engines, such as Google.
Which social media site is right for your business? CMO.com regularly reviews which social media sites to take advantage of and why. Here are some of its current recommendations. (For the full report, go to http://www.cmo.com/social-media/2011-cmos-guide-social-landscape)
- Facebook: Facebook is the top site for getting your message out and listening to customers. Because of its huge volume, it’s a major way to drive traffic to your website.
- Twitter: It isn’t what you’re saying on Twitter that exposes your business. It’s what you can get others to say about you that has the real impact. Getting retweets and interactions can do more for the exposure of your company than any other social site.
- LinkedIn: Great for personal branding of professional organizations and showing the professional firepower of your team. Encourage employees to maintain complete profiles.
- YouTube: Second only to Facebook in driving awareness. But the images conveyed through online video are so indelible, be certain that they align (in content, tone and production value) with what you want as your perceived company persona.