Making the Business Case for Social Media

Given its rapid rise in popularity and its hundreds of millions of worldwide users, you’d think social media would flood your business with cyberbuyers and improve your profit margins at the same time.

On the face of it, this marketing miracle sounds too good to be true. No surprise: It is. You must consider the hidden costs of social media marketing:

  • It can be quite time- and labor-intensive.

  • It’s better for branding than for sales.

  • It can take a long time to see bottom-line results from social media efforts.

  • Short-term profits are rare.

Although you never want to make a marketing decision just because everybody else is doing it, the experience of other small businesses may give you some comfort. By January 2011, almost one in three small businesses used some form of social media, according to the Network Solutions survey of small-business success in the “State of Small Business Report.”

The following illustration offers details from the report, illustrating the growing use of social media by small businesses between 2010 and 2011.

[Credit: Courtesy of Network Solutions, LLC]
Credit: Courtesy of Network Solutions, LLC

You may want to research social media before you commit your resources. In particular, you might want to consult the CMO’s Guide to the Social Media Landscape, for suggestions on the best uses of social media by service, or consult the chart of social media demographics. The following table is loaded with additional helpful sites.

Social Media Marketing Resources
Resource Description
CMO.com CMO’s guide to the social media landscape
Flowtown Excellent chart of demographic breakdown for social media
HubSpot Inbound marketing blog; 2011 report on state of inbound marketing
MarketingProfs Social media marketing tips, including B2B
MarketingSherpa Social networking research with B2B focus
Mashable Well-known social media guide
Network Solutions Report on small-business use of social media
Practical eCommerce Blog about social marketing for retailers
Social Media Examiner Humorous business guide to social media
Social Media Marketing Group on LinkedIn Professional, nonpromotional discussion group; approval required
Social Media Today Blog Social media blog
Social Networking Business Blog Social networking blog for business
TechCrunch Latest tech tips on social media and more
Top Ten Reviews Compares reviews of the top ten social networking sites for 2011
ZDNet Social business news, trends, and strategies

After you decide to experiment with social media, you confront an overwhelming array of options. You can never use every technique and certainly can’t do them all at once. Before you go further, let me categorize the choices.

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