Socially Speaking

Yes, three years ago I was a virgin. A social media virgin, that is. I was one of the people who booed Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter for being a “time suck” that distracted me from more important business. I was also certain that user-generated content was just a fad that would fade as fast as a prom corsage the moment I took it seriously.

Today, I’ve fallen in love with social media and we have a marriage made in cyber-heaven. Not only has it created new ways to stay connected to clients and potential clients, but adding a social media component to our clients’ marketing programs makes them more successful.

If I can share the secrets of our happy marriage, I’d say that social media marketing builds and reinforces relations, especially with your clients and customers. Before you answer, “My customers don’t use Twitter, Facebook or YouTube,” think again. Last year Twitter users grew by 1,382 percent, with the largest increase in the 35-49 year group and Facebook users almost doubled in one month, with the fastest growing audience in women over 55.

As is true with all love stories, finding the right match is everything. Both your message and how you deliver it will make all the difference in the success of a program. Today, hospitals stay in touch with former patients on Twitter to build their donor base, small law firms establish themselves as thought leaders with both Facebook and Twitter, and businesses use videos uploaded on YouTube and linked to their websites to highlight TV interviews of their CEO. None of these organizations depend entirely on social media to reach their market, but all of them use it as a very targeted marketing tactic.

Yes, there is no doubt that social media has come out of the backpack and into the boardroom, with one study citing that the number of companies using social media marketing has jumped from 20% in 2007 to 66% today. Whether you want to gain visibility, stay connected to your customers, establish a leadership position or stop complaints before they damage your reputation, it’s time to get to know social media marketing and embrace what it can do for you.