Why Social Media Will Catapult Your Sales
May 12, 2009

S.A.M.I., an apartment leasing company in Normal, IL, conducted a video campaign using Youtube to create video tours of their apartments.  Then, through their website, they provided tenants with all of the tools necessary to create their own videos and submit them for a contest called “SAMI Cribs.” This engaged users with the website, encouraged viral spreading of campaign, and provided SAMI with user created virtual tours of their own buildings.
 
Not too long ago, social media like Facebook, Twitter and even blogs were associated with a younger
crowd.  However, the demographics are shifting.  Nielsen Online reports that two thirds of all internet users visit social networks and blogs on a regular basis.  The largest growth in the last year came from those in their thirties and forties.
 
A company called BradsDeals.com noticed its visitors had a median age of about 40 and until this
year, and didn’t consider social media a fit. Now, they have 3,200 followers on Twitter and 1,500 on Facebook – all of this since March.
 
Blogs and sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are collectively called social networking or social media tools. Social networking costs little to setup and has a huge reward – it’s viral; when someone finds something they like, they share it, and it spreads quickly throughout the internet community. There are very few ways to generate this kind of buzz about your business and none are growing as quickly as social networks on the web.
 
Five years ago, if you would have told Mike Baker, senior pastor at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL, that his blog would get more traffic than his churches website (with an average
weekly attendance of over 4,000), he probably would have laughed at you.  Now, his blog gets far more traffic than the rest of the church network of websites.
 
Social media is a great way to connect with your customers and chances are those customers are already posting things about your business. Many who have avoided this technology are shocked to find that when they finally join the party, the internet community is already buzzing about their products or services.
 
Could you imagine what would happen if television stations were running commercials about your business and you never bothered to find out what they were saying about you? That’s where many businesses find themselves when it comes to social media. But now there is an incredible way to engage an enormous audience in dialogue about your products and services.
 
However, you can’t do it halfway.  Updating your social network pages requires an investment of time and most small business owners don’t have the time to spare. The solution is the use of experts who can help you keep up with your blog entries, Twitter tweets, and Facebook announcements.  With some fine tuning from a social networking company, all of these things can be tied together into one system that is easy to update and control.
 
Businesses that successfully manage their social networks and online marketing campaigns see results because of two things:  people know they can visit them and expect frequent updates and they know the information they find there is interesting and worth their time.
 
Deciding which social mediums are best for your business can seem difficult, but it is really just a matter of knowing your audience.  Experts say that you should meet your customers where they are – it’s not necessarily about pioneering some new territory.  You can conduct searches on Facebook or similar sites to find out who is talking about your field or industry already.
 
A real estate services firm called The Scion Group established a Facebook presence which helped its president, Robert Bronstein, to announce events and draw standing room only crowds to these
events.
 
Avanti’s, a Central Illinois restaurant, has several user supported Facebook groups that now total over 10,000 supporters.
 
The cool thing about using social media is that your customers often sell your product for you by talking about it on Facebook, or Twitter.  People love to brag about bargains they’ve found or the great new product or service they’re using, and you might be surprised to find that people are doing this for you already.
 
The most compelling reference is usually when your friends tell you about something.  This is the way interaction in social media works.  Recently Oprah and KFC announced a special coupon that would grant you a free meal at KFC. Once news of the coupon hit Twitter, everyone was talking about it.  In fact, there was such an enormous response that they had to offer rain checks on the coupon!  But the best part about Social Media is that you don’t have to be famous to generate that kind of buzz.
 
If you use social media wisely, appeal to the crowd that is already interested, and provide them with
quality web content – a reason to come back looking for you again and again – you will be amazed at the results you get and the way that word gets around about your business.