After a few years at the top, however, Myspace and Bebo were replaced by new kid on the blockFacebook. Facebook, a site designed so that Ivy League college students could create a profile and exchange messages, has become something far greater than its humble origins. Companies and brands quickly realised that they could set up their own profiles, just like the college students, allowing them to connect with Facebook’s millions of users. In 2007, only a year after Facebook went public, there were over 100,000 business pages on the site.
Now, Facebook has over 1 billion users and millions of company and brand pages. The site’s huge membership figures give companies a present and active audience, one they can reach and engage with promotions, and even interact with easily. Companies can use Facebook to keep fans and customers up-to-date with new products, or even to run competitions and contests.
There are a number of other social media sites that provide businesses with fantastic marketing opportunities. Twitter, for example, is where the conversation happens. Twitter’s 200 million users access the site to talk about what they are doing and current topics of interest. Businesses can use Twitter to see what people are talking about and even what people are saying about their brand.
Picture sharing sites like Pinterest and Flickr give businesses a place to showcase their work with eye-catching images, while video sharing sites like YouTube help companies reach the public with viral video adverts. Google+, Google’s answer to Facebook, provides a very similar service to Facebook, but with a focus on building interest-based communities.
Over the last two years, social media has moved onto mobile devices. With apps like Instagram, Vineand Facebook Mobile, people can stay constantly connected to their social media profiles. Meanwhile, with geotargeting social media networks like Foursquare, and similar services on Google and Facebook, local businesses can even find customers nearby and target them with advertising.
In fact, thanks to the reams and reams of personal information users put on social media accounts, businesses can target their ideal customers with adverts.
Social media has become one of the most powerful tools in a business’ arsenal, providing them with a low-cost platform for advertising and marketing, an enormous and targeted audience, a place where they can keep up-to-date with all the headlines and breaking news, a stage on which to release and promote new products, and a forum to speak to customers and monitor the conversation
Video created and narrated by Rob Thomson