Social Media 101: Why it makes so much sense

No doubt you’ve heard the terms “social media” or “social networking” by now. You may even have a profile on Facebook, and think you might have a grasp of what Twitter is. But as a business, are you using any of these tools? If your answer is no, you may be making a big mistake.

Social Media is the newest marketing “estate” built on the cornerstones of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube (MySpace, while very hot with the under 35 set for a time, has been surpassed by Facebook and will, in the coming months, be converted to an all-entertainment interface). It’s a big new world and not one that can be discussed in a single article. So the Wizbee Word will, over the course of a series of posts, break this subject – so important to the way you will market as the future unfolds – down into digestible parts.

First and foremost, particularly for small businesses, it’s FREE (or at the very least, far more affordable than most traditional media). Consider this, as reported by Socialnomics, a blog following Social Media trends: Gary Vaynerchuk grew his families winery business from $4 million to $50 million using social media. Using more traditional media Vaynerchuk found that $15,000 in direct mail gained him 200 new customers and $7,500 in billboards brought in 300 new customers. But spending nothing on Twitter attracted an astounding 1,800 new customers.

Nothing is more viral than Social Media. The term “viral” refers to the ability to pass something along over and over. So if you post something on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, everyone who sees and likes it can pass it along to all of the people in their network with the click of a button. Another example from the Socialnomics report: Naked Pizza, a New Orleans Pizzeria that specializes in healthy pies, set a one-day sales record using Social Media. In fact 68% of their sales came from people “calling in from Twitter.” And 85% of their new customers were from Twitter. Those new customers most likely came from existing customers, already following Naked Pizza on Twitter, who shared the sales message with all of their networks.

Anyone can do it. If you want to produce a television commercial, radio spot or print ad, you’ll need an army of specialists to get the job done. But with Social Media, just a little training and spare time allows you to handle the job yourself. Most account set-up is easy, there’s a wealth of information on the web on how to achieve the greatest results and, as long as you have decent typing skills, you can keep your Social Media sites up to date. What Social Media does cost is time. Either you need to take the time to figure it out and manage it, or hire an expert to do it for you. Some will even train you and your employees so that one upfront expenditure can be amortized over months of actual use.

The bottom line is, as you finalize your marketing plans for the coming year, don’t overlook a new media direction having an incredible impact on businesses that know how to work it. Social Media is here – to stay. Need a Social Media consultant? Wizbee.com can make recommendations from among member businesses.

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