With all the buzz about social media and marketing, it can be hard to figure out what is truth and what is exaggeration. Though some sources may have over-hyped the social media phenomenon, social media marketing is much more than the latest gimmick. In fact, social media is one of the most cost-effective ways for your business to attract and keep customers. Without a presence in social media, your company is missing out on a crucial opportunity--and presenting an outdated image to potential customers or clients. These days, clients expect businesses to have Facebook and Twitter pages, and if your business isn't active in social media you are sending a negative message to consumers.
Social media is already extremely popular, with nearly two thirds of United States internet users reporting membership on at least one social networking site. And while more young people use social networking sites than older people, the sites are also used by many older adults. 72 percent of adults aged 35 to 44 use a social networking site, compared to 90 percent of 18 to 24 year olds. As social media gains ground, it is contributing to a decrease in popularity for email. US internet users currently spend more time using social networks and blogs than email--about three times more--and that gap continues to widen. This means that marketing strategies like direct emails are becoming less and less effective. What this all comes down to is that if businesses want to flourish in today's market, they need to get social.
Small to medium businesses in the United States are embracing social media--and seeing results. More than half of these businesses say social media sites are important in generating active sales. Social media sites can help businesses get found online, increase lead generation, and increase marketing effectiveness. Of the social networks, Facebook is arguably the most important for businesses. 93 percent of adult internet users in the US have accounts with Facebook, and one out of every eight minutes spent online is spent on the site. This puts Facebook in the top three most popular sites, along with Google and Yahoo. Facebook can be used as a very effective marketing tool, and the number of marketers for whom the site is critical or important is on the rise, increasing by 83 percent in the past eight years. 67 percent of business to customer companies say they have acquired customers via Facebook.
This makes having an active Facebook page the essential first step for any company looking to implement a social media presence. LinkedIn and Twitter are also important, though depending on your company they may be less crucial than Facebook. Business-to-business companies tend to use Twitter more than business-to-customer companies. Twitter is a valuable marketing tool because its users, though far fewer in number than Facebook users, tend to be wealthier and better educated than the average internet user.
So get on Facebook, join LinkedIn and start tweeting! The era of social media is here to stay!