What is Social Media?
Social Media has gone beyond dating sites, kids playing games online, and email newsletters. Social Media is big business, and it can also mean increased revenue for any business. According to Social Media Guru Mari Smith, a recent study indicated that there are currently over 1.1 billion people on the largest social media website, Facebook.
These 1.1 billion people are potential customers who shop online just as much as they socialize. Additionally, many businesses have Facebook pages, which provide many opportunities for companies to interact with their customers, and to attract more customers by the increased visibility due to the sharing of content, comments, and recommendations that can occur on this busy network.
Moreover, just by having a Facebook page, a company has the opportunity to reach more of its target audience, because just like an individual, a company can post ads in the form of offers, giveaways, and coupons in real time. Therefore a company or anyone with a business page increases their chances of making sales and thus increasing their revenue. However, because of the high visibility of being on a large social network, companies also are taking risks because not all comments are positive and sometimes a business can lose customers through negative comments, and the sharing of those comments by individuals and other companies that are part of the same network.
For example, During the month of May close to Mother’s Day, one of my Facebook connections posted on her page that she had changed her mind about ordering from a particular company that sold flowers and other types of arrangements because she went to their Facebook page and read numerous complaints written by unsatisfied customers. Also, my friend indicated that she scrolled through that company’s page and did not see one response to the plethora of complaints from anyone representing that company. Furthermore, my friend has over 5,000 connections on her personal page, and more than a few thousand on her business page.
After my friend posted the negative comment about the company more than 10 people commented back, “Thanks for posting this, I was just about to order something from there, and now you’ve saved me the trouble.” Even though that particular company may not have known about the loss of revenue, they also missed an opportunity to redeem their reputation by responding to the numerous complaints.
Another example of how influential social media can be: a few months ago another Facebook friend posted some sad news about her lost dog. As many as 300 people shared her flyer, and a group of 30 people formed a search party in the area where she resides. Subsequently, we found out that the dog had been shot and killed by a stranger who thought the animal was a threat. A local news station heard about the incident and conducted a video interview with my friend and shared that video with over 126,000 fans on their Facebook page. Out of the 126,000 fans, there were over 1,000 shares of that video interview. In addition to that, my friend created a page to honor her lost dog and to bring awareness to the many issues faced by people who own what are considered “bully breed” canines and to help the canines of this particular breed find homes. Currently, the page “I AM ALEX” has over 13,000 fans.
So what can Social Media Do for Individuals?
Social media has connected many people to old friends, family, and even helped them find employment. On my page I have re-connected with over 100 of my friends from high school, many of them I have not seen in over twenty years. I am also connected to many of my family members and we often share photos with each other. Since I joined Facebook over three years ago, I have received numerous job offers, because of my profile which briefly lists my background, such as my education and places that I have worked previously.
In fact, by connecting with a friend from high school who owned a local magazine, I was given the opportunity to write articles about food, interview chefs, and to see my work in print. Prior to connecting with this friend, I had been trying for many years to get my articles published without success. Since becoming a food writer, I have had the opportunity to interview several chefs on The Food Network such as Chef Cat Cora, the first female “Iron Chef.” I also interviewed two individuals who are Grand Champions of The Food Network’s show “Chopped”.
With the help of some friends that I am connected with on Twitter, I was able to connect to friends, businesses and celebrities that I admire. One of the celebrities that I follow on Twitter is Cheryl Burke and D.L. Hughley. Since I am a big Dancing with the Stars fan, I often exchange tweets with other fans of the show. On more than one occasion, Cheryl Burke and D.L. Hughley responded with “thanks” to a couple of my tweets. D.L. Hughley even responded, “you are so sweet Yoli!” Therefore, one of my connections suggested that I interview them for Houston Style Magazine. I contacted my editor and asked if I could do the story if I received a positive response to my request for the interview. Well, with the help of one of Cheryl Burke’s biggest fans, I was contacted by a representative who arranged a phone interview for me with Cheryl Burke. The article I wrote on Cheryl Burke and the article I wrote on Iron Chef Cat Cora were featured on the cover of Houston Style Magazine.
Finally, because of social media I have had the opportunity to work with a lady who is an inspirational speaker, author, and whose work I have been familiar with for more than 10 years. In the past, I had made numerous attempts to meet her, but due to unforeseen obstacles, I was unable to connect with her until she posted a job on Facebook. I responded to her request right away and she hired me. Now I’m her social media manager for her business pages and twitter account.
So, if you’re not on any social network, why not? If you don’t know where to start, I highly suggest you start with Facebook.