Business changes are often born out of necessity. The things we view as innovation are sometimes nothing more than a basic need to use less to do more. Social media marketing is the perfect example. The current economic state has made it that much more important for businesses to limit their spending. We are now more aware of what can be done with hard work and initiative. Let’s take a look at some of the social media marketing options available in 2012. Social Networking Sites Most business owners wish to aid the development of their business by using social networking sites, nevertheless it can be overwhelming. Let’s take a look at four of the most popular social networking websites. Facebook: This free website allows users to create a profile, make friends, send messages to these friends, and post anything they like (within reason) on their “wall.” The wall acts as a message board, connecting the user with other connected members. Facebook is one of the most used social networking websites and has over 800 million active users, according to Wikipedia. Twitter: A free microblogging and social networking site that lets users send messages of 140 characters or less. These messages are called “tweets” and they allow individuals and business owners to let people know what they are thinking or doing at any time. You can also keep up on what others (including your competition) are doing. Twitter had acquired over 300 million users as of 2011 and continues to grow. LinkedIn: This website is geared more towards business users. As of November, 2011, LinkedIn had over 135 million users. Known as one of the top websites for business networking, LinkedIn allows users to create and post a profile, photographs and pertinent information about their skills, as well as any services they provide. Once trusted contacts are made, users can then share ideas, information, knowledge and opportunities with other professionals. Google+: This is actually a collection of tools that help users stay connected with personal and business contacts. This is done through Google+ social tools, like Sparks, Huddle, Hangouts and Circles. The network was originally operated on an invitation-only basis; you would have to be invited to join a person’s social network. No other social network is growing faster, as there are currently 62 million users, a figure projected to grow to 85.2 million by February, 2012. Social Bookmarking Sites The benefits of social bookmarking for news and blog website publishers are astounding. You can introduce your websites, or sites that interest you, to those with similar tastes. This can drive traffic directly to your website and create valuable backlinks. Some of the most popular bookmarking sites include StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious and Technorati. In general, these sites allow communities of users to share content they find interesting or valuable in some way. Through a combination of voting, link sharing and specialized searching, these communities have the power to bring large amounts of traffic to otherwise obscure sites. Blogs The most familiar aspect of social media is the blog. Short for “weblog,” the blog has become a powerful tool for individuals and businesses alike, however businesses have been slower to adopt the medium. Blogs have several unique advantages that make them especially beneficial for business use. They can be used as an effective platform for both internal and external communication, and they provide the user with complete control over publicly published content. A blog is also more intimate than other types of communication. It’s a direct link to the blogger’s thoughts, something which many readers appreciate. That appreciation can lead to establishing a blogger as a thought leader in a field, as well as fostering greater brand loyalty. It’s important to note that blog posts need to be genuine. Thinly-veiled advertisements masquerading as informative blog posts will have effects opposite of what’s intended. Social Media Marketing YouTube: When you think of social media, the first things that come to mind are websites like Twitter and Facebook. The video options offered by YouTube are often overlooked. How valuable can YouTube be? Over 560 million hours of online video are viewed each month in the United States. See the value yet?


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