Social media is certainly hot right now, especially as a potential marketing tool for smaller businesses. But is the hype justified? To me, only one social media strategy really makes sense – it’s a simple one and I’m going to tell you in this article what it is.
Just before I do though, I’d like to address two questions that people often ask me: what does ‘social media’ really mean, and is participating in it right for MY business?
What is ‘social media’?
Social media are defined as ‘web sites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts.’
The term has only become popular in the last few years but in fact online ‘bulletin boards’ and forums that have been around for ages would certainly meet that definition, because they’re also about the key ideas of interactivity and ‘user generated content’ (in contrast to traditional media where professionals created content for one-way consumption by the audience).
At time of writing, the ‘big four’ social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn (keep an eye on Google+ but just at present it isn’t where the audience is).
Is participating in social media right for MY business?
There’s no easy answer. One key element of social media is that it gives ‘right to reply’, and that scares some businesses off. And I certainly don’t recommend you dive in to every social media site under the sun.
Be selective. Facebook’s audience is primarily younger people and the atmosphere is ‘fun’. LinkedIn’s is undoubtedly professionals and the atmosphere is more serious. And there may be more niche social networks that are an even better fit for your business.
Do some research and start examining the sites that seem to offer the best fit for you.
But two irrefutable facts mean that every responsible business owner MUST at least look seriously at social media, however sceptical they may be…
1) The big social media sites are heavily used, and by HUGE audiences.
At the time of writing, Facebook for example has about 750 million registered users. If it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.
Moreover, the site is ‘sticky’: the average user visits 40 times per month, spending 23 minutes per visit. In the online world such a frequency and length of visit is unusual. This is one ENGAGED audience!