Social Media Stakes Its Claim in the Small Business World

Social Media Stakes Its Claim in the Small Business World
Written by: Nicholas A. Dunlap, CPM

Social media has become an integral component of the modern business. With print advertising the more costly and in some cases seemingly pre-historic alternative, online marketing has thrust itself to the forefront of business owners attention.

A simple progression shows that what started with an email address lead to a website. From a website, the more astute and literary businessperson developed a blog. From a blog, the individual needed a place to showcase his or her personal and professional lives by way of online diary or business card thus establishing a Facebook or Linked-in account. And from the daily diary came a more abbreviated and to-the-point “Twitter”, in which one can (in 148 words or less) tell you about a deal, merger, value or other such opportunity that is looked forward to or has been experienced by their firm or by themselves.

Daily, visitors spend a combined 45 minutes on the aforementioned “social”sites. Alexa web statistics show that the average visitor to Linked-in spends over 6.5 minutes on the site. Facebook, currently the 2nd most viewed website in the world, is viewed on average for over 29 minutes a day per visitor. Twitter is at 13th most viewed with visitors spending an average of 7 minutes sharing their up-to-the-minute status with others. 45 minutes a day is 18% of an 8 hour business day. With computers at most workstations, it is safe to say employees nationwide are doing their on-line socializing at the boss’s expense, or at the very least, using a cellular phone or blackberry to access one of the sites on a lunch period or break.

Consider it free marketing. In the apartment industry, we have been able to establish a corporate blog (which you are reading now), a blog geared towards our customers (http://dpgliving.wordpress.com) who are often curious to view the interior of our apartment homes, a tenant portal that offers residents and prospects the ability to log-on and view property photos and print a rental application information (http://www.dpgliving.com) and lastly, a Twitter account to list and detail new move-in specials, market rents and values that the public should know of (http://www.twitter.com/dpgliving). We will continue to utilize these sites and any other sites as they become established, prove reputable and offer us a direct line of communication to our customers.

Where a website is less likely to be frequently updated due to complex issues with the coding required to make site modifications, social sites are edited, updated and redone on a routine basis. Frequent updates ensure and promote higher visibility to search engines and in turn, drive higher traffic to your website. Adapting to and understanding these new, enhanced marketing methods is pivotal to your professional advancement and beneficial to your bottom-line. The Pennysaver costs us $200 a week per ad, where Twitter and our blog are free. Needless to say, I am far more pleased when I hear a lease was signed as the result of an online effort than a print effort. After all, I am a manager and so, essentially, I monitor budgets for a living.

Right now, even with the plethora of online Social arenas available to the public, know that there will soon be new players and new platforms to utilize and manipulate to reach your audience. Become familiar with the current sites and use them to your advantage, you can’t afford to fall too far behind the times. And if you feel you do not have the time, give yourself 45 minutes a day, everyone else is.

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