Social Media Marketing: Does Your Business Need It?

As the Internet age has taken hold, a lot of ideas about what businesses need have changed and evolved. It used to be that a busy location and low prices could get you by, whereas now most companies need a host of online strategies, like search engine optimization, just to compete. As the web has spread, so has the list of “must haves.” But is social media marketing one of them?

For most businesses, and most marketers, the answer is going to be a strong “yes.” The reasoning has to do with sheer math: there are more than 400 million people on Facebook, over 100 million on Twitter, and 50 million on LinkedIn. That’s a market no one can afford to ignore. There’s never been a more affordable way to build brand awareness in your community and keep customers informed of your latest news and specials. To top it off, social media can help to boost your search engine optimization efforts and drive customers to your website, ultimately generating leads and sales.

But before you run off to use social media to explode your online sales, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

What sets your company apart?

What unique benefits do you offer your customers? Is it low prices, high quality service, or a fantastic reputation? Knowing, and understanding, where you fit in the marketplace is the most important first step in social media marketing, since it allows you to expand your branding efforts and spread that message consistently.

Do you have a unique viewpoint?

The biggest problem for any Internet searcher – or shopper – isn’t finding some product or piece of information… it’s finding the right one. Too many sites and profiles look and sound the same. Develop a unique and interesting viewpoint or personality, and you can cut through the clutter.

Can you find and engage large numbers of fans or followers?

Social media works a bit like an avalanche: you need size and momentum to truly make a powerful force. Begin your campaign with the idea that you’re going to find lots of customers, and lay the groundwork appropriately. Be sure to interact with your fans – unlike traditional media, social media isn’t a one-way street. Treat social media as a tool to build relationships and trust, rather than to blast your marketing messages, and you will be much more successful.

Can you keep your social media posts up to date?

To gain and keep your fans and followers, be sure you can find the time to keep them interested in your company with relevant, up-to-date posts. Few will want to follow a stale Twitter or Facebook page.

The number of people using social media sites gives it the power to transform your business. Ask yourself these questions, and then jump on in – there are literally millions of customers for you to connect with.

Feel free to comment. What are the factors that cause you to be weary of social media? Have you had success marketing via social networking sites?

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