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Like it or not, social media is becoming a business necessity

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Published: November 21, 2009

Consider this: if Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth largest in the world by population, ahead of both Japan and Russia.

When I talk to people about using social media to market their business, I usually get one of two responses. Either they love using Facebook and Twitter or they really don’t see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, both are missing the point.

Social media is probably one of the biggest developments in business since e-mail. Never before has the communications playing field been so level. Social media allows for a single-person, sole proprietorship to have the same potential consumer impact as a Fortune 100 company, without the million-dollar advertising budget.

And yet people still misunderstand social media or, even worse, ignore it completely as a fad.

Take my two earlier examples of responses. The first guy thinks social media is all about Facebook pages and Twitter statuses. The fact is, there are literally hundreds of options in the social media pantheon. The trick is figuring out which ones work best for communicating with your target audience and focusing your attention on those.

As popular as Facebook is, it might not be your best choice. This takes time and attention that not every small business owner might have. This is where outsourcing or contract work comes in handy. A good consultant will help you research your market and decide on the best course of action, while leaving you free to run your business.

Even worse is the second response – indifference. These are the people with their proverbial heads in the sand, assuming all of this social media hooplah will fade away.

Social media is not a fad, and it is not just for kids. Businesses small and large are making lots of money using this social media stuff. Look at upstart blender maker BlendTec, for example. They struck marketing gold with their popular “Will It Blend?” videos on YouTube and saw their sales increase five times as a result.

Now before you grab a digital camera and try your hand at becoming a viral video director, you should know that BlendTec invested a lot of time (if not money) in producing their video series. This is key. You must be prepared for the real cost of social media marketing. What you don’t spend in dollars, you will spend in sweat equity.

But at the end of the day, if it’s done right, the return on your investment could be legendary…and profitable