Why do I need to be on social mediaThis week I attended the Central Wisconsin Social Media Conference. Of course, this is no big news, social media is a big part of what I do in helping local and small businesses increase their productivity. Social Media as a communication platform is an excellent way to business to connect and engage with their customer base. But the tools are more than just communication. As the technology matures, I’m seeing a fundamental shift in how social media is utilized. It’s no longer good enough to have a Facebook page or to build a LinkedIn profile. Thanks to Google and the other search engines, Social is now woven into the fabric of the web. How our business, and its products and services are found online depend on greatly on how we use social media to promote ourselves.

In my break-out presentation at the conference, titled Social Media: Where do I begin I outlined five reasons why a business needs to be active and engaged in the social channels.  Businesses that don’t adapt the marketing strategy to integrate social media as part of their overall plans in the long run will be left behind those that do.

1. Social Mobile

In 2013 the smart phones as a computing device has eclipsed the number of desktop and laptop computers in use. 5.6 billion smart phones are in use worldwide and 50.1% of all mobile phones in use in the US have smart phone technology. Mobile content and the mobile enabled web are now more important than ever. Smart phone users interact with businesses using their smart phones and the apps it contains. Making is easy for these users to interact and share your content in a social manner is critical for these users.

2. Social Search

Social media has completely intertwined itself within the pages of Google search results. Facebook’s new Graph Search will make your personal connections key in the search results.  Why just limit yourself to one or two lines in the Google search results with your social activity can drive a half dozen or more returns. In search, content is key, but recommendations by others like with the Google +1, Facebook Likes, and Pinterest Repins will ultimately drive your website higher in the search rankings.

3. Location Based Marketing

Apps like Facebook Check-In, Foursquare, and Yelp turn your customers into your best marketing tool. Why not use these location based apps to allow them to ‘check-in’ to your location. Offer specials and discounts through the apps to encourage this, because when you do, their status gets shared with all their friends and connections.

4. Visual Social Web

Because of the smart phone integration, the web has become more visual than ever. Everyone has a camera with them and they’re ready to share their latest images. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram encourage visual sharing and offering compelling images on your social sites, blog, and website will increase traffic and social engagement.

5. Social Convergence

Traditional media has met and is embracing the social space. It’s not uncommon to see QRCodes in print advertisements, POP displays, vehicles, and even billboards. Hashtags pop up on our favorite reality television shows so we can follow along with the participants in the virtual space. The new media is all about convergence and integrated campaigns. Effective marketing strategies will require a multidisciplinary approach, so social media should be a part of your next campaign and not just an afterthought.

Have these five trends in social media affected how you use the technology? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Jim Carlson