Social media is no longer a luxury for business in any industry. In order for a company to have a chance at viability in the coming years, it must have a social media presence that is both targeted and effective. Social media of all kinds has become the new word-of-mouth, and it is perhaps the most cost-efficient way that a company can publicize and distribute itself and its products without spending millions of dollars. Even companies with millions of dollars are using social media in order to cut back costs and drive back the competition that savvy small business owners are creating because of their Internet marketing strategies.[membership level=”0″] [sc:smalltxtadsright] [/membership]

Below are just a few of the ways in which savvy business owners have begun to use social media as a publicity engine and as a distribution channel.

Social media as an engine for publicity

Far from being simply a tool to keep in touch with friends and family, the major social media networks are becoming hubs for business. As a matter of fact, some of the larger social media engines such as Facebook are actually losing teen audiences while gaining business audiences who are looking to find a target market.

The effective metrics of the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give even the smallest startup business the opportunity to zone in on a target market and provide them with a precise ad campaign that has the ability to speak directly to the core issues of that market. Social media should not be used in the other way; most of the biggest mistakes and wasted time from social media comes from a business owner attempting to cast a “wide net” over the entirety of the marketplace. Not only is this strategy less effective by that date, but it is actively discouraged by the social media platforms themselves.[membership level=”0″] [sc:smalltxtadsleft] [/membership]

In actuality, localizing the campaign is not only easier, it is also more effective. Any business is now able to quickly and easily find the audience that is looking for it without having to go through the rigors of market testing such as focus groups, surveys and strongholds – people give away their information in their social media profiles. Never before has there been such a large quantification of interests by the general public to the business community. Companies who recognize this will be the ones who own the 21st century.

Social media as a distribution channel

Not only can a business promote itself quite effectively on social media, but it can also begin the sales process on those same networks as well. It is easier than ever to connect a social media profile to a website landing page, or even directly to a sales page. With the increased capacity for visibility that social media websites give to a business, starting the sales process on the social media page should be an integral part of the sales funnel for any business.

Many marketing experts have completely changed the notion of distribution because of the new options that social media provides. Because it is so easy to start a conversation on a social media page, many market experts now consider this conversation an integral part of the actual distribution of the product. It is, after all, how customers now vet products – holding question and answer sessions with other customers through conversation threads, comparing notes about a product and asking questions directly of the product manufacturer.[membership level=”0″] [sc:smalltxtadsright] [/membership]

Social media websites are also much more highly trusted by the major search engines then most landing pages, especially if the business is new to the Internet. Many businesses have foregone an independent website totally, choosing rather to use this built-in trust within the major social media networks to distribute directly from those pages. Many of the major social media websites are taking advantage of this trend, providing some businesses with the ability to sell directly from a social media page. This consolidation of distribution will likely increase, especially if rumored consolidation of bandwidth is allowed to take place through legislation that major telecommunications companies are trying to bully through the government. The businesses that survive in the 21st century will be the companies that adapt to this new distribution structure.

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About the Author: Jennifer Mathews