It’s no secret that the advent of social media sites has changed the way businesses around the world interact with consumers. Facebook alone has more than one billion registered users and Twitter logs in more than 400 million tweets daily. Such numbers are difficult to ignore. However, Facebook and Twitter are far from the only social media sites around. There are currently more than 400 such sites and more are being added each month.
Practically every hobby and interest has an associated social media site where enthusiasts gather. There is the Library Thing along with Good Reads for book lovers, Ravel for sewing enthusiasts and the fast-growing Pinterest for home decorating, gardening and cooking fans.
The explosion of social media sites has been a boon for businesses which know how to take advantage of the opportunities such sites offer. Even the smallest of businesses now have the entire world of consumers at their doorstep without having to spend a fortune on marketing.
Social media sites provide an excellent platform to interact with consumers in real time. For instance, if a restaurant is having an unexpectedly slow night, it can post that there’s “no waiting” for a table tonight and perhaps include a picture of the nightly special to entice diners. Social media sites are also a great platform for answering consumer questions and announcing store events, such as free home improvement classes or guest author book signing.
Affordable advertising, such as Facebook ads, make it easy for businesses to put their name and products in front of qualified consumers. You don’t need a huge budget; you can start at just $10 per day. The more you spend, the more number of users get to see your ad.
The way businesses of all sizes can use social media are practically limited by the company’s imagination. How successful a business can be is no longer limited by its marketing budget, but by its creativity.
For consumers, social media sites have brought a myriad of products within their grasp. No longer are buyers limited to familiar names and the products found on the shelves of their local retailers. In addition, perhaps more importantly, consumers can make their voices heard. Savvy companies–large and small–encourage a dialog with their customers, and consumers everywhere are not being shy about sharing the things they like and don’t like about the products and the services they use.
Social media sites also give consumers access to discounts and special offers in real time. There’s no lag time for the coupons to arrive in the mail and you don’t have to wait for the morning newspaper to see what products are featured this week. Facebook and such other social media platforms bring information straight to buyers’ living rooms.
Social media sites are here to stay. Once a way for American college students to connect, the phenomenon has gripped Internet users around the world. For small businesses and consumers, such sites open the door for exciting dialog and ways to connect beyond what was possible just five years ago.
Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of Social Media awareness and other network management subjects.