Social Media, What?
As of March 31, 2011 30.2% of the worldwide population were Internet users. In North America 78.3% of people were Internet users. From 2000 to 2011 when these numbers were reported, worldwide users had increased by 481% and North American users had increased by 151%. That being said, it is no surprise that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have attracted the popularity they have. These social networking sites were originally for reconnecting and recreational purposes. Now, they have taken on new dimensions as businesses are using them for company growth, advertising, marketing, etc. When using them for business purposes it is important to understand how these websites work, what they have to offer your company, how consumers use them, and what do they expect for them. I am going to try and help guide you through these questions using the following social media sites: Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ ), Twitter (https://twitter.com/ ), Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/ ), and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/ ).
Making Social Media Work for Your Business
Like all social media sites, Facebook can be an asset to a business when used effectively. Facebook is the largest social media site and has over 500 million users; that means 1 in every 13 people has an account. The site allows users to connect with people and companies all over the world. As a business you can create a personalized site offering company information including, products and services, location and hours of operation, website link, and photo’s. It also allows the company to advertise sales and promotions. One of the greatest benefits to a business having a site like Facebook is that it allows the company to connect directly with their consumers and monitor feedback improving customer relationships. As a consumer, these sites allow them to review products, provide recommendations, locate needed businesses and services, and connect with the company directly. As a user myself, my favorite benefits are the special sales, promotions, and contests available exclusively to people who like their business.
Twitter stands out in the realm of social media as it allows people to share real time information, hash tagging, and allows comments to be linked to other accounts. For business use, twitter has created Tweetup allowing business meetings and collaborations to take place online through their website. It allows businesses to follow user opinions and creates a better customer service department allowing companies to release information instantly to their consumers. Other companies use twitter to run contest and promotions, which have proven to be effective. For consumers twitter offers relationships with businesses and major endorsers and allows them to share information about businesses and products instantly without them being filtered.
Youtube allows the sharing of video’s and content within a central website. Businesses can create their own channel where content is monitored and controlled by them. Sephora, a beauty company, uses Youtube very effectively (http://www.YouTube.com/Sephora ). They have how-to videos, runway trends, consumer reviews and take homes, new product promotion and advertising, and much more. Youtube is a great social media outlet for a business like Sephora or a university that can use the site to post lectures. As a consumer, YouTube allows users to learn more about their products, how to use them, and other uses or complimentary products. It also allows consumers to post videos to the general site where a company cannot control content, allowing consumers uncensored content.
LinkedIn is a social media site for the professional world. It allows people to create accounts highlighting past work experience and accomplishments while connecting to people in current and former business networks. Users can search for job postings and provide former coworkers with recommendations. It also provides a list of services available in areas and reviews provided by people who have experience with those businesses. As a business it allows you to seek out potential employees who are qualified for open positions. It also allows you to track networks statistics, review profiles of potential business partners or potential hires, and gain new leads. As a consumer, the site allows one to meet other professionals, connect with old colleagues, receive and write professional recommendations, and seek employment.
When using social media it is important to recognize all uses of the website so that either as the business or consumer you can make the most of what is provided by these sites. As this is my opinion on these sites, I am interested in hearing what others think. Have you found other interesting features I have not mentioned? If one was to start a new business, what free social media tool would you find to be the most effective to spread awareness? If you have existing Facebook and Twitter accounts, search for Sephora and see how they use these tools. What do you think?
Miniwatts Marketing Group. (2012, February 15). Internet Usage Statistics The Internet Big Picture. Internet World Stats. Retrieved February 1,2012, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm.
Hepburn, A. (2011, January 18). Facebook Statistics, Stats and Facts For 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/facebook-statistics-stats-facts-2011/