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The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

Hand pointing on keyboard with social media logotype collection of well-known social network brands placed on keyboard buttons

If the thought of social media makes you feel overwhelmed or intimidated and you are yet to take the plunge, then this article is for you. Let’s face it, social media isn’t going anywhere so it’s time to overcome your fears and realize that it really isn’t all that bad.

Why You Need Social Media

Let’s start right at the beginning, what exactly is social media and why do you need it? Simply put, social media “is a way for people to communicate and interact online.” Over the past 10 years we have seen huge growth in the number and popularity of social networking sites. With this growth, social media has become an essential and valuable part of a company’s marketing strategy and the need for companies to engage in social media is only becoming stronger over time. To help convince you further that social media is essential to your business, here are a few stats.

  • Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC (Source: HubSpot)
  • 60% of consumers say the integration of social media makes them more likely to share products and services (Source: Digital Insights)
  • Approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision (Source: Nielsen)
  • 78% of small businesses gain at least a quarter of their new customers via social media (Source: Eventility)

Pretty powerful statistics hey? Hopefully you’re starting to realize how valuable social media can be to your business. Because honestly, you really can’t ignore it any longer!

Social Media Platforms

Now that you understand what social media is and why you need it, you’re probably wondering what the next step is. Well, you need to decide which platforms will work best for your business. Let’s start with gaining an understanding of the main platforms out there.

Facebook: The world’s largest social network with over one billion users. It’s best for dealing with customer service issues, receiving feedback, and building a community around your brand.

Twitter: Is the most fast-paced of all the social networks. It allows users to stay connected through the exchange of short status messages (no more than 140 characters). It’s best for providing real-time updates on sales, promotions and any other activities the company is undertaking.

LinkedIn: This network is specifically designed for the business community. It’s where professionals can interact, make connections and find potential employees.

Google+: This social networking site is operated by Google (if you didn’t already pick that up) and is now the second largest social networking site in terms of active users. The most notable features are its search engine benefits and authorship tool that associates web content directly with the author.

YouTube: Owned by Google, this is the only social networking site based only on video content. If you want to draw in your target audience and keep their attention then video marketing is the best way.

Pinterest: This social bookmarking site allows you to share and organize images and videos found online. Pinterest is most effective for retail stores and the most popular categories include food, fashion and home decor. When choosing your social media platforms you may want to keep in mind that the majority of Pinterest’s users are female.

Once you have an understanding of these platforms you can start identifying which ones your target audience(s) are the most active on. Find the top 2-3 sites and start creating a strategy for each.

Hopefully you now have a basic understanding of social media and realize it’s not as intimidating as you may have thought. Having a strong social media presence can be a huge asset for your business, so start incorporating it into your marketing strategy today!

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