Being initiated into the world of using Social Media for business can often times be a daunting task and generate more questions than answers. It may seem like Social Media has been around forever but the truth is it’s only been in wide use for less than five years and a majority of businesses are still working to integrate Social Media with their traditional marketing mix. So the question becomes, with all of these new Social Media sites, how do you know what will work for your business?

To know which Social Media sites will work for your organization’s intended reach, you need to have a general understanding of the major Social Media outlets and how they work. Over the past five years a group know as the “Big 5” has emerged as the dominant Social Media sites on the planet. They are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. The development and use of all of these new Social sites in such a short period of time has left many scratching their head, wondering what to do with these sites. Furthermore, how do they even learn to develop these new marketing tools. Let’s look first at the Social Media sites and what they do.

Facebook 800,000,000 users as of January 1, 2012
Originally designed as a tool for sharing just information between students at Harvard University, it has expanded into an absolute phenomenon and one of the largest social changes in human history. The core concept is simple, share your profile information, likes, exchange text based messages and photos. This is a simple concept but an absolute genius way to collect relevant demographic information and allow for advertisers to know exactly who is seeing their advertisements. Facebook is still used widely for personal connections but recently created a feature for businesses known as “pages”. These pages allow businesses to be attached to a personal Facebook accounts. Other Facebook users are able to “Like” your page, which in turn drives traffic to your branded Facebook Page. With a crafted campaign you can get your customers sharing your information about your organization with their friends and family. It’s the best referral source of all time.

One of the best examples of a Facebook Fan Page is for Coca Cola:

LinkedIn 135,000,000 users as of January 1, 2012
LinkedIn is a Professional Network site for businesses and business professionals. This site can be used to recruit new talent to your company, add credibility to your brand and enhance your online reputation. A good example of a company page and a professional page is for Mercedes Benz USA Company


Twitter 300,000,000 users as of January 1, 2012
Twitter is what is known as a microblogging service. Users are allowed to send 140 character messages called “tweets” that other users can follow. Twitter users primarily share only text based messages. These messages can be used to make customers aware of information on your company. A great example of a ski resort keeping their guests up-to-date on what trails and lifts are open, Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort tweets when certain lifts and trails open!/MHMlifts. Twitter can be used to entice your customers to be “Following” your account so that they can have inside information on promotions.

Google+ 63,000,000 users as of January 1, 2012
The youngest of the Social Media sites, only being open to the public since September 20, 2011 Google+ has gained tremendous market share in a very short time. Google+ has many integration tools for other social platforms. Google+ is similar to many of the above Social Media sites and should have some very cool features being released over course of 2012. It is a very user friendly product and is very easy for users to use for both business and personal use. Google+’s page can be accessed at the following link. Lots of good CES info:

YouTube Launched in 2005 Used by Millions in 2012
YouTube was once considered just for uploading personal videos but as the medium has evolved, it’s become a great way to promote your company. You can leverage advertisements that have been created for television or presentations your company has given and post them to your YouTube channel. These videos are accessible to anyone on the Internet and can be embedded into your site, to create additional content. YouTube is currently ranked as the 3rd busiest website on the Internet making it a very good idea for your organization to be there as well. One of the more memorable commercials of all time is for Snickers and can be viewed at the following YouTube link

The second part of this post has to do with the ease of use in working with these tools. The best part about social sites is that they are made for the masses and a majority of the basic features and setup can be done in only a few hours and there are no setup or monthly fees associated with the services. To create more complex campaigns there may be the need for outside assistance but these tools truly put large media power in the hands of small business.

The question posed, “What Social Media Sites Should I Use For My Business”? The answer is you need to be a part of a majority of these social sites, to provide the most out of your marketing plan. Being a part of these networks will only benefit your organization. Furthermore, trends show that it will become increasingly more important to setup and maintain your Social Media sites, as more people join these networks.

Social Media is one of the most cost effective, targeted and easiest marketing methods that you have available to your business. Embrace it, use it and enjoy the rewards.