5 Reasons You Must Start Using Social Media Now!

social media 2008 survey graph Julie Power inspired me to make a counter-intuitive recommendation based on research conducted by the parent company of her Internet Marketing Report Online.

A survey of 359 business executives discovered that 70% of them had no interest in using any kind of social media. Only 17% were even trying them.

It’s important to note that they did not limit social media to stuff that might be a little bit offbeat for many of us, such as Twitter.  It included both blogs and podcasts which have become mainstream for knowledgeable content marketers.

So this means you should avoid social media like the plague, right?  Wrong!  You should do just the opposite.

Here are the five reasons that dictate your need to use social media tools right now:

  1. Your customers are using it. Millions of web users, both in the business to consumer and business-to-business markets, are reading blogs and listening to podcasts daily.  Moreover, some very sophisticated news organizations such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are blogging comprehensively on a broad range of topics.  If it’s good enough for those guys, it’s certainly good enough for the rest of us. 
  2. Most small and medium-sized companies are not using it. You won’t always have the chance to get the jump on your competition.  Imagine yourself back in the early days of TV and you were the first car dealer, furniture store or air conditioning company to run local advertising opposite I Love Lucy or the Lone Ranger. You would have demolished the competition. You have the same opportunity right now to be early–but not so early as those famous pioneers with the arrows in their backs.  Hi Ho, Silver and away!
  3. Your smartest competitors are using it. You’re almost certainly paying attention to your smartest competition.  I’d be surprised if a high percentage of them are not at least putting a toe into the social media waters.  Organizations as diverse as law firms, interior designers, real estate agents, and roofing companies are using blogs and podcasts to demonstrate their expertise and thought leadership.
  4. It can be your most cost effective marketing strategy.  The required financial investment in creating a blog, for example, can be close to zero.  The real investment will be in time and thought required to craft a content marketing strategy which provides valuable information to your customers and prospects.  You may need to a hire specific content creation resources either internally or externally.  But this will probably be less expensive than a many traditional advertising outlets.
  5. Your old-style marketing is less and less effective. Because buyer behavior has changed, you cannot expect traditional advertising alone to drive buyers like lemmings to your business.  You may certainly want to use it to drive them to your online home. That’s where you can prove to prospective customers that you are a reliable supplier who can be trusted, based on your knowledge and understanding of your their problems.  A regular blog or a series of informative podcasts may be just the ticket to prove that you are the best choice to provide essential solutions. 

Summing up

You may think it’s risky to make an investment in core social media components such as blogs, podcasts–or community sites such as business focused LinkedIn or youth oriented sites such as Facebook or MySpace.  I suggest that the real risk is in not at least experimenting. After all, some very smart marketers have already proven the power of these online tools. Should you fail to put social media to work for your organization…just like Lucy Ricardo, you’re going to have some ‘splaining to do.

Also, be sure to check out Julie’s Internet Marketing Report Blog .  You’ll find some great stuff.

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