While Social Networking Keeps Growing, Are You Missing Opportunities?

The stats are enormous. Twitter recently has surpassed 20 billion tweets and Facebook now has over 400 million users, 175 million of which log in everyday. It’s no wonder why all of the marketing hype centers around social media. It’s growth is fast and relentless yet experts are still trying to figure out how to be as opportunistic as possible in reaching an audience that is spending a huge amount of time social networking. The focus has shifted for businesses and advertisers to try and join in the online conversations. After all, there’s no sense in spending marketing dollars on television commercials for example, when consumers are using commercial time to engage in more social networking, unless it’s the Super Bowl.

A recent Nielson study reveals that social networking eats up twice as much time on the web as any other activity. Facebook and Twitter account for 22.7% of time spent online with the next closest activity being online gaming, 10.2%. The stats also show the degree to which social networking is taking the place of other forms of online communication. Both email and instant messaging have seen a significant drop as an online activity. Here’s the full stats from the study.

So what does it take to convince company to start marketing using social media? If you’ve been thinking about getting your feet wet for a while, now is the time to put your toes in the water! You don’t have to completely dive in but with growth like this, you owe it to your marketing strategy. Businesses shy away from social media largely because there’s so much out there and the results are hard to quantity. So start with the basics:

1. Create a Facebook profile: Try to connect with ‘friends’ that are relevant to your business. Most likely whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are already on Facebook. It’s relatively user friendly and not cumbersome to manage.

2. Open a Twitter account: Tweeting is fun and easy- it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Again, you might find that your customers have already joined the Twitter universe.

3. Start a company blog: Blogging can be a great benefit to a business by increasing customer and visitor loyalty and driving more traffic to your company’s website. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that will keep people coming back.

There are so many great resources online that will help you begin your social media endeavor and down the line, sharpen your social networking skills. Check out Mashable and Social Media Examiner.

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Libraries Utilize Social Networking Sites

Social networking Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been growing more and more everyday.  They have been expanding so much that not only are teens and 20-somethings using these sites, but they are also affecting the Baby Boomer generation.  Since these sites are growing so much in popularity, many libraries are seeing them as a tool to reach out to their patrons.

libraries-use-social-networking-facebookMichael Stephens, assistant professor of library and information science at Dominican University in River Forest, said “The best libraries will offer multiple venues for discussion.  You’ll have multiple channels to find your way to no longer [just] a Web site, but a Web presence.”  He also teaches a class called, “Library 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies,” and said that the number one group of people moving to social networks are ages 30 and up.

libraries-use-social-networking-twitter-logoIt is important for libraries to be proactive and stay current with the trends to stay effective, rather than become outdated.  These sites allow people to connect with each other, as well as allow libraries to connect with their patrons.  Amy Alessio, teen coordinator for the Schaumburg Township District Library said, “The library needs to keep its perception and its service current or we’re going to lose folks.”  She uses social networks, such as Twitter, to let people know about the various programs and services that they offer.  She found many adults and authors are following her library’s Twitter page and said, “I put something up on Twitter for a program that only has a few spaces left and I almost always get a call from a parent.”

libraries-use-social-networking-connect-together-ideasNot only do social networking sites inform patrons about their local library, but they also can bring libraries together to share ideas.  They can see what other libraries are doing and if that is something they could or want to start.  It is also a tool for passing along information about budget cuts and what is going on in the industry.  The North Suburban Library System said that they use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with its member libraries and professionals within the industry.

For libraries to continue to effectively reach out to their patrons, they need to stay current with the times by utilizing social networking sites and creating a Web presence.  Peggy Carlson, assistant director of the Geneva Public Library, said, “We think it’s the way of the future, and we’re going to be integrating it more and more into our service.”

Ways to Use Social Media

  1. Buy Ad space on social media sites.
  2. Build a base of customer/client connections on LinkedIn. Request introductions to other potential customers/clients through these original connections to continue to expand your base.
  3. Start a company blog.  Many companies blog to keep in touch with their customers.  For example Toyota has an” Open Road Blog.”
  4. Start actively blogging on related blogs or on the blogs of interested individuals in our target market.
  5. Build an interactive Webpage as an offshoot to your main page to further explain a new product service and to generate interest.
  6. Join Facebook and create an interesting profile.
  7. Provide links to dig, reddit and RSS feeds.
  8. Connect through twitter
  9. Build a MySpace page and use it to blog and post videos.