What is Social Media and Why Does Social Media Matter to My Business?

social media

Today if you flip on the TV or have kids, you can’t avoid being bombarded by messages about social media. You’ll see anchors on CNN plugging their Twitter pages and ads for Tempur-Pedic mattresses pushing their Facebook page.

Just about every night CNN anchor Anderson Cooper mentions you can follow him on Twitter, news stories break about Sara Palin’s latest Facebook post or Lady Gaga’s latest outlandish publicity stunt.

If you still think social media is a just fad, take a look at Wholefoods’ Twitter page. They currently have 1.8 million people following their tweets. Think they are exception? Check out Best Buy. They have almost 70,000 followers on Twitter. Even British Petroleum has a Twitter page.

So as a CEO or business owner why should you care about what people are saying about your company on Facebook and Twitter? Social media is essentially electronic “word of mouth” marketing spread via the internet. Historically word of mouth has been one of the most powerful ways to grow a business, yet it is the hardest to cultivate quickly. Why? Word of mouth is all about building trust.

You can’t buy trust.

It’s something that takes time to cultivate. It’s also all about who you know and who knows you. Today word of mouth messages can be spread at the click of a mouse via a variety of electronic channels from Twitter, to Facebook to LinkedIn to reviews on Epinions.

On the other hand, negative word of mouth is also one of the fastest ways to destroy a business’s reputation. Type in your product or company name and the word “review” into Google’s search engine. If negative reviews come up at the top of search reviews you have a serious problem on your hands. The problem becomes even more acute when your customer can type in the competition’s products name or service and only positive reviews come up. When customers have a choice they will always choose the product or service with the fewest negative reviews.

For progressive businesses that “get” social media they understand it’s all about building trust and engagement with their customers. It’s about putting a human face on your company. These companies realize that people are using social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Technorati to research new products and services, to find potential employees, to learn, to connect with potential partners and to interact with customers.

For example, one of the most progressive and valuable uses of Twitter that we have seen to date has been for customer service. From Whole Foods to small software companies, are now using Tweets to provide customer support. Social media is finally giving businesses a way use old fashioned word-of-mouth marketing in a way that has never existed before. So you think you are ready to leverage one of the most powerful marketing tools created in the past 10 years? Do you want to use social media to more effectively promote your product and brand? Do you want to influence your target market with social media?

Would you like to build awareness and trust for your brand with social media? Do you want social media integrated into your company's day to day communication strategy? Then check out our Social Media For Busineses Best Pratices Page.

If you are already using social media but aren’t sure of the mensurable ROI, take a look at our Social Media for Business Grader and get an free in depth evaluation of your businesses use of social media channel.