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Social Media and the Right Mix for Your Company

Defining Social Media:
With so many social media options it is becoming more difficult to discern the right medium(s), delivery vehicle(s), and marketing mix. Websites, blogs, apps, clouds, facebook, and twitter - this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but an attempt to provide a general idea of the breadth of consideration.

Dictionary.com defines social media: web sites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts. Merriam Webster.com defines social media: forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos). Therefore, social media encompasses just about anything found online or anything that uses the internet for communicating. As business owners how do you decipher the right mix?

What Does Your Company Do?
As always, the first consideration is the mission, product, or service of your company. The strategy of a company selling products will differ from a non-profit offering community services and it will differ from the strategy of a consulting firm. Research shows that facebook is more responsive to community related and how-to sites while twitter is most responsive to news, science, technology, business, and design related sites. This may help, at least it's a start.

Do You Need A Website, Facebook Page, and Twitter Account?
Another consideration is the growth stage of your company. If you are a large mature company your online presence will likely differ significantly from a small start-up as your strategy, capabilities, and available resources will likely differ. Furthermore, public sentiment will dictate an expectation of a more extensive presence with greater consumer convenience from a larger and more mature company. However, for any size company, it is reasonable to expect to find a website, a facebook page, and twitter account. Websites can be as simplistic or as complex as you desire, costing - $10,000+ to build and host. Facebook pages and twitter accounts are free. Creating an attractive and interactive facebook page can cost - $250+ per month. Advertisement on facebook can cost per day to whatever daily limit you set, on twitter advertisement can cost - $120,000 per day. 

Then, what is your target market? Where should resources focus? Twitter’s audience is approximately half female, between the ages of 18 and 34; approximately half of twitter user households have children ages 0-2, there is no significant trend for education levels or household income. Three quarters of twitter followers are likely to purchase from the brand they follow and more than half will recommend the brand. Like twitter, facebook’s audience is also approximately half female and there is relatively equal representation across education levels and household income. However, the audience includes more teens and households with children ages 13 to 17, and grandparents that use social media are more likely to choose facebook.

Delivering the News…
Delivery vehicles are not always necessary; however, they can offer convenience, increase your reach, and increase the attractiveness of your product or service. There are several vehicles you can utilize to help deliver your message: you tube, livestream, cotweet , hootsuite, slideshare, mailchimp, to name a few. The great thing about the delivery vehicles is that most readily integrate with websites, facebook, and twitter and the majority offer a cost option that does not detract from the quality of your product or service. Furthermore, you generally have only 2 or 3 options per media type, narrowing down the choices.

What About Blogging, Cloud Computing and Applications Development?
Smaller companies fare better with blogging (102% more twitter followers), while larger companies generally skip blogging and are still able to generate large numbers of fans and followers. Cloud computing and application development are for everyone and with increased resources, (human and monetary), there is increased ability for expansion of infrastructure. Cloud computing can cost $200 - $6,000+ per year while application development starts at , if you know how to do-it-yourself, and between $35 and $150 an hour to hire a developer.

Anyone can have a website, a facebook page, and a twitter account. What you do with these accounts, in alignment with your audience’s expectation is what makes the difference.

Resources
How to Choose The Best Social Media Platform For Your Company
Twitter Stats that Will Get You Tweeting