How useful are Social Media Networks for marketing your products online? How do they impact small and medium businesses?
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Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg did not know what he was getting into when he launched the social media network that ate the world. A Compete.com study ranked Facebook as the most used social network worldwide with more than 500 million in July 2010.
Social Media Networks have completely changed the way the 21st century communicates. And if you still don’t know what I am talking about, you definitely need a read.
Social media network sites comprise of media for social interaction and networking over the internet. They provide highly user-friendly and scalable interfaces to communicate with the world in the web domain. A recent report by Syss Communication identified the top social networking sites as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Hi5 and few others. Facebook and LinkedIn top the list with around 1.5 billion users together.
People socialize over these social media sites by creating their own profile, reading others profiles and exchanging messages with other users through private or public message boards.
Social Media Sites Are Great Marketing Tools
Social media network sites have now become a great way to market your products/services online. The marketers can instantly reach out to a vast audience that they can cater to, which they cannot capture with print or electronic media advertising. Additionally, social media marketing substantially reduces the cost of advertising over the internet.
Usually marketers use these websites to create a buzz about their upcoming offerings. With well designed social media strategy, the markets attract the maximum traffic to their sites. Various studies have been conducted to gauge the importance of social networks for internet marketing and running a business online.
A recent study conducted Michael Stelzner on the usage of social networks as a marketing tool yielded some very interesting findings. Over 88% of the respondents were associated with one or more social networks and out of these 81% reported that they end up getting higher business exposure through these social networks. Furthermore, the study also proposed that most of the network marketers’ fall in the age group of 30-39 and around 32% were sole proprietor or entrepreneurs. The most used social media sites for marketing purposes by these respondents were again Facebook and LinkedIn, the top on the charts.
Social Networks Are A Threat To Privacy
While social media sites help immensely in marketing a business online, there is still a price to pay. In a recent survey by a security firm, among 803 professionals at small and medium-sized companies, a whopping 80 percent think that Facebook, RSS feeds, and related Web 2.0-based malware will cause a problem for their companies.
Another survey reveals that small business owners fear the use of Facebook and Twitter because they think they will come back to haunt them.
Social Networks has proven to be a security threat for individuals as well as businesses, as most of our private information is available over the network and any one can use it for their own purposes. In a survey, Webroot, a security firm and a senior IT technologists Graham Cluley concluded that the website that posses the highest security threat is Facebook, with over 70% of the respondents voting Facebook as the most unsecured website as compared to other social networks.
Some of the threats include:
- Letting hijackers into your account
- Being friend with people you don’t know
- Clicking on any link that appears on the screen
- Using third party applications
So, whether to use social media sites or not remains a question for many. In my opinion, social media sites are truly the best way to socialize in this fast paced era. With little caution, businesses can easily monetize and avail the numerous benefits of these unbelievably vast networking sites.
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