2012: A Social Media Odyssey

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With 2011 drawing to a close and 2012 just around the corner, businesses may be a little worried about what the New Year holds for them. Indeed, many are predicting that 2012 will be a difficult year. Due to the ongoing economic crisis in Europe and ongoing worries about a double-dip recession, it should be obvious that these worries are well-founded. However, with a little preparation and understanding of successful business and marketing strategies, you will weather 2012 like a champ, and you may even flourish a little.

So what can I do?

The first thing to remember is to not, under any circumstances, freak out about these predictions. This may lead to a decrease in spending and fewer new hires, which will play right into these naysayers’ diabolical plans. Indeed, a recently released report by a group of University of Massachusetts economists suggests the current unemployment crisis could be solved if America’s largest banks and non-financial companies would cough up some of the $3.6 trillion in cash that they have been hoarding over the last few years.

“There is no reason that the US needs to remain stuck in a long-term unemployment crisis, Robert Pollin, lead author of the report and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, said in a statement. “Getting the banks and corporations to move their hoards into productive investments and job creation requires carrots and sticks—policies such as a new round of government spending stimulus as well as taxes on the banks’ excess reserves—that can both strengthen overall market demand and unlock credit markets for small businesses.”

Okay, what next?

After you are able to breathe a sigh of relief and stop worrying about things over which you have no control, it’s time to focus on the things that you do have control over, in order to strengthen your company and ensure that your year is productive and profitable.

Like it or not, the Internet is here to stay. The stats from this past Cyber Monday only serve to prove that this medium is not only highly effective for marketing, but that it can literally make the difference between a successful year and one that is not-so-successful. Learn to use every aspect of the Internet, in order to gain a toehold in the virtual marketplace.

And how exactly do I go about doing that?

Here are five places on the Internet where you should focus your attention in order to have a stellar 2012.

  1. Social media sites, which were originally dismissed as being a frivolous waste of time, have really helped small businesses. Not only do they offer consumers a way of spreading the word about your business in a new-fangled word-of-mouth manner, but some sites like Facebook now offer advertising. If you were going to plan a weekend trip to the Windy City and were looking at Chicago hotels and events for your itinerary, would you choose one that you had never heard of, or go with the one that your Great Aunt Rhoda raved about on her Twitter account? You get my point.
  2. Blogs are important, whether they are your own or someone else’s. By starting your own blog, you give consumers an insight into your business, and also open the floor for discussion and/or constructive criticism about what’s working and what’s not. By reading others’ blogs—particularly “mommy blogs” and those sites geared toward consumers—you are able to hear what consumers are saying, in their own words, and can strategize accordingly.
  3. Google is more than just a way to pass the time or find directions to the theatre. By using white hat SEO tactics, you can increase your site’s visibility and brand recognition; this is done by raising you in the search results, which equates to more revenue for your company. The key is to learn everything there is to know about white-hat SEO and Google’s various algorithmic updates, in order to avoid angering the Google gods (hint: think relevant, quality content over spammy junk).
  4. As I previously mentioned, Google and Facebook now offer advertising that is affordable and far more efficient than traditional advertising methods. In addition, email marketing is the new way of targeting consumers that doesn’t involve wasted paper, expensive postage, and annoyed consumers. Each of these methods is better able to target the specific demographic that you desire than previous methods.

Learn everything you can about web design and HTML code. This way, you can create an aesthetically-pleasing, intuitive site that will lure customers in and keep them there. There are multiple guides on the Internet for doing this, or you can hire a professional. Whatever your choice, be sure that your site is always at its best.

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