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How Will Your Business Use Social Media in the Future?

With the fluidity of social media, it’s difficult for anyone to effectively predict where the future lies. What is for certain, however, is that social media is incredibly popular and will be around for some time to come. According to a new Nielsen statistics, internet users now spend about one-quarter of their time on the web visiting social networking sites, more than double the nearest competitor (online games).

Part of the reason for this trend, at least in my opinion, is the immense breadth of social networks. Not only are there networking giants like Facebook and Twitter, we also have a litany of smaller, niche sites offering a specific service. These types of sites allow people to personalize many aspects of their online experience, eliminating the need for many traditional channels, such as e-mail, search and general entertainment sites.

Now that social media and networking are bedrock internet activities, it’s evident that businesses of all sizes will have to utilize them moving into the future. But as I stated earlier, these site are in a constant state of flux, so knowing the appropriate M.O. can be a challenge. Here are some of the ways Gist.com sees small businesses utilizing social media in the future:

~New Platforms: As social media is integrated with mobile phones and other technologies, companies who develop innovative ways to interact with their consumers will be ahead of the curve.

~Concentrated Campaigns: Particularly for small businesses, many social media sites are simply too big to generate sales efficiently. In the future, look for companies to create targeted campaigns through industry-specific social media sites and develop ways to garner quantifiable data of the results.

~Clear Goals: One of the biggest challenges for those promoting their business through social media is defining a clear goal. Do you just want name recognition? Are you looking for direct sales? Can customers use social media to ask specific questions pertaining to your business? In order to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign, you have to know the results you’re looking for. As social media continues to evolve, look for new ways to create a targeted marketing approach.

~Location-Specific Marketing: One of the purposes of social media is to connect people, which should be the goal of small, locally based businesses. We are just now beginning to see local companies utilize social media through programs like Groupon and FourSquare. It should be easier to reach out to those in your community when you are a small business, as opposed to massive corporations who have to spread their social media presence thin to reach their entire constituency.

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