Local Internet Marketing ChicagoIf there’s one thing that has stood out in the world of online business in the past few years, it’s been the focus on social media.

There’s no doubt that social media has an impact on the lives of many and has become the way many people receive and send information online. In this day and age, it just doesn’t make sense for any online business to ignore social media.

But you’ve got to be careful. Social media can be a powerful online tool for businesses, but one always has to be mindful of time, resources and response.

And that’s exactly what our guest blogger, Greg Watson, is going to help us do. We are lucky to have him here for a series of 11 posts and he’s going to deliver us plenty of advice to ensure we make the most of the opportunity social media offers us.

Without further ado, I’ll just let Greg introduce himself…

Hi, I’m Greg Watson. I’ve been getting my feet wet, often drenched, in social media for business since about 2007. I’ve managed social media for my own businesses, advised countless other businesses and continue to learn and grow as social networks evolve over time.

I mention the evolution of social media because what you find today, may not be what you find tomorrow. While everyone always things of social giant Facebook and longtime player LinkedIn, most of the big networks we talk about today are only a few years old. That makes social media a very new business tool, so there is plenty to learn and plenty of exploration to do. I hope to help you with that learning and exploration with my guest post series here.

A few stats to get us started:

Online Marketing Chicago* According to a 2011 Q3 report by Nielsen, more than 80% of Americans use at least one social network. That is a staggering number and one that should really get our attention as business owners.

* In a Comscore report from the end of 2011, they stated that Facebook accounts for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online. Remember, as mentioned earlier, social media is becoming the way people receive and send information. It’s their go-to place.

* Social Skinny.com reports that 91% of social marketers increased website traffic through social activity. That’s what we all want, right? More eyeballs on our web pages is always a good thing.

* While it was a relatively small sample of 1000 Facebook users, these results from Lab42.com are very interesting. In their survey, they found that 50% of Facebook fans prefer brand pages to company websites, which leads us to an obvious question. Do you have a Facebook page and if you do, are you leveraging your Facebook page effectively?

What we’ll be talking about in this series:

Online Marketing ChicagoWhile I have mentioned some pretty impressive stats, we have to mix it with a dose of reality. Many people are flocking to social media, but our businesses are not social media. That’s where I see a lot of people making big mistakes. They put so much focus into social media, they forget that they are actually trying to run a business.

Social media is a great lead generator and can help us form closer connections to our existing audiences, but all that is worthless if we neglect everything else we need to be doing. That’s why I will always be mindful of that when I share my thoughts in this series. I will show you how to use your time wisely and how to streamline things, wherever possible.

Some of the topics we’ll be covering in the coming posts include:

  • Understanding the big social networks and deciding where you should be
  • Managing your time effectively
  • Growing your following and establishing yourself as a valuable resource
  • Tools to streamline your marketing, without looking like a robot

…and a bunch of other stuff. We’ll even talk about some unexpected benefits of social media marketing, so hold onto your hats, we’ve got a lot to cover.