For many of you reading this post, the last few years of running your business have been anything but normal. Everything seems to be changing at the speed of light. Technology, marketing, even your customers and their needs are changing. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in business is the way we now interact with our customers. Today, it’s all about “Social Media.”
Wikipedia defines social media as:
“Primarily Internet and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content or consumer-generated media.”
Social media is not a new phenomenon, but many business owners have yet to fully embrace it as a strategic weapon in their arsenal. If that sounds like you, you need to start embracing.
Expect more businesses (a.k.a. your competitors) this year to use social media as a way to communicate with customers. While Web sites and email newsletters are still important communication tools, social media will soon become the standard form of communication.
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are three examples of social media vehicles that will grow in popularity in 2009. All are used by business owners for different reasons. Twitter is an interactive exchange of ideas, reviews, networking and more that requires very short communications (140 character limit) from participants. LinkedIn is more about networking with like-minded professionals, asking questions, providing answers and promoting your company’s product/services or your expertise. As of February, 2009, there are over 35 million registered users on LinkedIn covering 170 industries.
Facebook is quickly branching out beyond its borders of serving the college market to include professionals. Many business owners are using Facebook to create “fan” pages of their products and services, announce events and build their client base. Business owners also use Facebook to connect with customers, vendors, partners and prospects.
Moving forward it is imperative you learn as much as you can about using the different social media vehicles to network with other businesses, find new customers and better communicate with existing customers. Much of this can be done for free. The major requirements are time and a willingness to learn new tricks.
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