Part of a new initiative I’ve embarked on this year is providing a workshop series for small business owners in my area. A portion of what we’re putting out there is some basic marketing training, both in traditional and non-traditional spaces. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve trained people in these areas, but in this recent forum, we were discussing Twitter – a very new topic for for some people. Many were very excited at the opportunity to embark on the journey, eager to learn how to manage and use it best. Others were less so, skeptically holding fast to a fear of their time being overrun by it. I understand both points of view, but pose today that like any form of marketing for your business, you either embrace it or you don’t, but be mindful that either way, it will carry on without you. For the small business owner still in a holding pattern, consider these points:
- According to a Nielsen study of more than 25,000 Internet users, 90% said they trust recommendations of online people they know and 70% trusted the opinions of people who commented online about previous purchases, even though they might not know them personally
- The respondents in the Society for New Communications Research study revealed that 59.1% use social media spaces to vent their complaints
- 69% of people do their homework online first before making a purchase offline
As of this writing, Compete is showing Twitter with over 23 million unique visitors and over 1,928% growth in the last year. It’s hard to deny that the Internet has changed forever the way people shop, share, tell, and gripe. And let’s be frank: simply having a website isn’t enough to prove credibility any more; those can be set up in minutes. The point here is these findings illustrate the fact that consumers are seeking more information from more sources, and social media continues to claim more of that space and credibility as people expand their networks of contacts and trusted colleagues. The question isn’t whether or not to have a social media marketing presence; the question is when will you start to position yourself online more formidably, ahead of your competition and decidedly in front of your customer? Marketing your business in any way requires time, initiative and a bit more innovation if you want to be where your customers are.