Yesterday, Facebook announced changes to their homepage. The last time Facebook changed its design, those changes were roundly criticized. This time, however, the industry has responded by simply calling the social networking giant out - suggesting they were trying to steal features and thus, users, from Twitter.
And that brings us to the thrust of this conversation. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. MySpace.
Unless you've been living under a rock (or maybe the island from "Lost") for the past five years you' ve heard of at least a few of these social media marketing tools, or social networking tools, depending on what you plan to use it for.
So what's the big deal? Simple. We often talk about the fragmentation of media consumption. You know, how prospects are moving to various different places to garner their information? Well, they are. From 5 options thirty years ago to well over 30 today. And that is why social networking sites are SO important: everybody uses them.
Or at least, they're moving there. Don't believe us? Well, we reported a few weeks ago about Facebook reaching 175 million users. Yes, you read that right, 175 million.
No matter what your industry, ignoring that kind of audience is madness. And, frankly speaking, many of those networks serve a brilliant purpose on the local level. If you want to communicate with customers who are near to you geographically, you can easily sort for location in most of these venues. This is a great tool for communicating with your local customers. As long as you have the time, of course.
What follows is a quick primer on the local Social Media Marketing/Networking tools we've seen our clients find value in:
When you join Facebook, you have to list a hometown - which automatically puts you in a "network" with everyone else in your hometown. This site has grown in such popularity that browsing through your local network can be time consuming but worth the effort to make local connections.
This local review site covers nearly 40 states and helps find just about anything in a local area that can be reviewed - from real estate to restaurants. Additionally, Yelp offers social networking through the ability to add friends, groups, events talk in forums or message contacts. Users will trust their friend's review more than others. Yelp has a separate registration and website (www.biz.yelp.com) for business owners and rewards members with access to tracking, private customer messaging and real-time page updates.
This photo storage/sharing site has thousands of user groups, many which are local in nature. These groups offer a great opportunity to connect with your potential customers who might be interested in your business.
The use of video on social sites has been linked to some of the highest conversion rates from traffic to sales, and YouTube is the leader in the online video sharing community on the Web. YouTube allows members to easily upload and share video clips across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs and email. Search the site for your industry and city or state - your competitors may already be video sharing.
This social networking and micro-blogging site is all about conversations, allowing users to post their latest updates. An update is limited to 140 characters and can be posted through three methods: web form, text message, or instant message. This site is possibly the best place to reach out and find people in your area. Twitter's Advanced Search Page inculdesa geo-search option; list city/state or zip code and receive a list of messages ("tweets") from people in that area.
This professional networking Web site allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs and find potential clients. Individuals have the ability to create their own professional profile that can be viewed by others in their network, and also view the profiles of their own contacts. It offers one of the simplest methods of inviting and maintaining your social network; by simply uploading an exported file from your contact manager, LinkedIn can immediately identify which of your contacts are members of this service.
The moral of this little tome': Social Media Marketing is important for reaching out to your customers. And it's only going to be moreso in the future.