Social Media, What’s the Big Deal? #WelcomeToThe21stCentury

It's hard to imagine a world without social media. It's infiltrated our society and our everyday lives within a blink of an eye, and yes, it is here to stay. While staying connected through social media is a good way to stay in touch with friends and family, see what everyone is eating for breakfast, and of course some good old fashioned cyber stalking - it also has become an increasingly crucial aspect of any business's marketing scheme. No longer a passing fad or a trend, the awareness of social media has shifted. Mastering a constant presence on social media has become a must for any business wanting to secure a place in both the traditional and digital marketplace.

Putting your company, brand, etc. on the triad of social media (Twitter, Facebook and Google+), is a sure way to increase exposure and even sales. According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 85% of businesses who include social media into their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure. In addition, 58% of businesses that have used social media to market within the last three or so years, have reported an increase in sales within the same time frame. With many benefits of using social media, and through utilizing some of the many tools that social media sites offer, it's no wonder why so many companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon.

So first things first, unless you live in a cave or under a rock, most people are aware of the vast list of social media sites the internet has to offer. From Pinterest, Tumblr, Yamer, LinkedIN, MySpace, to YouTube, the list seems to be endless. So for lengths sake, and to keep you sane, we're going to give you a quick rundown of three prominent players in social media: Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Each site offers a variety of tools to help market your business and keep in touch with the world of technology.

  • Twitter: Started out as a social networking tool, keeping friends in touch, is now flourishing into a full blown marketing tool. Using shorter messages or "tweets" only 140 characters long, these tweets appear on an individuals homepage for anyone who is following your (or a businesses) account. Twitter is great for companies in that they can tweet news releases, market products, and point consumers to new content and special offers. Another great aspect of Twitter is it's use of hashtags (a word or phrase after a pound symbol#). These can be searched by users who are looking for specifics on a topic, concept or idea, allowing them to be directed to your account - all through using a simple # symbol.
  • Facebook: Primarily started as a way for college students to connect with friends and classmates, has now grown into an ideal place for marketing your business. Companies can now create a page for their business that interacts with fellow Facebook users (recently estimated to be around 1 billion). Through creating a page, businesses can market their product, offer exclusive deals, and build their brand as a whole. Think of it as an interactive, user-friendly yellow page listing.
  • Google +: While relatively new to the social media world, Google+ has quickly caught on as an important tool for businesses seeking to increase their presence in the arena of social media marketing. Recent reports have shown that Google + has grown "27% to 343 million users" jumping into the number two spot among Social Media sites, and most notably, ahead of Twitter. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Google + allows companies to market products, post news releases and gain a following of users. However, Google+ has the added bonus of a "promote" tool. This allows a company to create different brackets of followers allowing you to market differently to certain groups, as well as receive analytics that measure a variety of statistics. This allows you to see how your Google+ page is being used, and how effective your strategies are. SEOMoz have even reported slight impact on SEO, with some tests showing pages getting indexed faster when posted to a google plus page. These pages are also used for local listings in search results. Google also offers tutorials for businesses that explain and demonstrate some of the great features they offer.

The key to a successful social media marketing plan, is to know your business and its needs. A small local business is going to require a different game plan than a large corporation in order to be successful. Due to everyones unique scenario, what you decide to hone in on is going to differ. This can mean anything from the user base you concentrate on (large scale, or small loyal customer base), to how you go about increasing your visibility. The more your name is out there, the better. There has never been a problem with too many people knowing your name, what you do, and your fantastic reputation.

And always, always remember to play up your strengths! Regardless of the nature of your business, or it's scale, knowing what your strengths are, who you are aiming to target, and your product/service niche is indispensable when it comes to creating a successful social media strategy.

Whether it's being a part of one social media site, or many, social media is an important tool for businesses to be successful in the fast paced technological world we live in. Not only is it a great way to market your business, but it allows for a great overall user experience. It shows you indeed are a part of the 21st century, and best of all allows customers to connect to you and your business on new and exciting levels. If you and your team are struggling to figure out how this whole social media thing works, or don't no where to start, consider hiring a social media expert. Just remember the only thing worse than not being on social media, is not using it/monitoring it!