At a large annual conference of marketing, the words “tweet”, “fans” and “like” were used almost as often as “touch points”, “benchmark” and “prioritize.” Why? The reason for this is rather simple: The importance of social media is expanding considerably in today’s modern business world. Holding its 100th anniversary meeting, the Association of National Advertising discussed marketing gains by companies that are using social media to amplify their brand name and advertise more effectively.

From the marketers in attendance, about 13% replied they do not use social media for their businesses. From this survey, we can see that most major businesses are using social media. So the question is: How has the use of social media marketing affected these businesses?

Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest marketer by spending, has used social media several times for marketing means. An Old Spice advertising campaign was successfully launched through social media, increasing the brand’s Twitter followers by 2,700 percent and reaching a new total of 120,000 followers. This dramatic increase of followers propelled Old Spice products further into popular culture allowing the product to reach more customers. Although some say social media produces immeasurable sale results, experts tend to think otherwise. Marketing experts state that social media produces results for the brand by “building short-term sales and long-term equity.” Others discussed how the creative aspects of social media marketing can build both “brand love” and “brand value."

For businesses, social media can also be helpful in understanding the attitudes of customers. When using social media, everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinions about brands, good or bad. Companies have easy access to the thoughts of consumers around the world with social media. Procter & Gamble even used consumer opinions found on social media websites (like Facebook and Twitter) to decide which commercials it would show during the coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games last February. This method is a very effective way to determine which commercials have the highest potential to spread the popularity of a product.

Major companies are not the only ones using social media for business. Financial firms are just beginning to explore the advantages of social media. According to research, about 45% of asset management firms are implementing the use of social media. Even the most conservative mutual fund firms are experimenting with social media sites and services.

As a business, you want to go to where your current and potential customers are. Social media can take you there. With 500 million registered users on Facebook (10% of the planet’s population) and the top 20 websites dominated by relations to social media—why not let your business jump into the social network?

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