So why should I care about Social Media?
As a small business owner you’ve undoubtedly heard or read about all of the hype around social media such as Twitter, Facebook and other ridiculously cute and charming names like Digg and deli.cious. You may have even created a Twitter account and gave up after an hour because you simply couldn’t figure out how tweeting about what someone had for dinner would benefit your business. You left confused, disappointed and decided you had better things to do then waste time on the web.
You need to do a double take. Social media is critical to any business, but particularly to a small business where marketing funds are tight, where support staff is limited and where making the monthly or seasonal nut is mandatory to keeping the doors opened. You may not believe me now, but you will begin to see the light as your competitors succeed online and you don’t.
I want to explain what is happening and draw the connecting lines between the new web, social media and your bottom line. This is not a quick discussion and it will take several posts to clearly outline and describe in an easy to understand way. As there is no time to waste, let’s get started.
First, let’s lay some foundation by understanding the difference between the old traditional media versus media available on Web 2.0. Newspapers, Yellow Pages, Radio and TV advertising are one-way communications. Using these tools, you, the advertiser, are basically pushing your message out to your target audience in hopes that they will a) see, b) consider and c) act on your ad.
Web 2.0 = INTERACTION
In the early days of the web, web sites basically followed traditional media. Many sites were and are simply glorified online brochures, hoping to snag a would-be customer. Then came Web 2.0 and along with it all sorts of social media sprouted. So what is the difference? The key difference is that Web 2.0 introduces “interaction” between you and your audience, or you and your friends and family over the web. Basically, we, sellers, buyers, vendors, visitors are BECOMING PART OF THE WEB. We can contribute to blog discussions. We can connect with people around the globe. We can not only find new customers, but we can build whole communities of customers and engage them in ways never possible before. Best news? We have to invest time to engage, but there are no out-of-pocket fees for interacting over the web. Engagement is basically FREE.
In turn, your audience can interact with you, your store or your products in new ways. One’s goal in using social media should be to connect with as many current or potential customers so they will share their likes and preferences with you and their friends thereby helping to build your community base.
Major Shift in Marketing
This engagement factor represents a seismic shift in marketing. Judging by the billions actively engaged online and through their smart phones, social media is not a fad any business owner can ignore. In truth, you don’t have a choice because all of the traditional media that you’ve used is dying. Newspaper readership is declining, Yellow Pages are being tossed as soon as they arrive on the porch, and radio and TV viewership have become so fragmented and expensive to capture any eyeballs, few can afford it.
Part II will provide you a bird’s eye view of the various types of social media (e.g. bookmarking, networking, etc.) and describe the differences. If you have particular questions about social medial you’d like answered, just include them in the comments section below and I will address them. Go ahead and ask.