“Not having a social media presence is like having an unlisted phone number” 
Heidi Richards Mooney


Social media is not longer a fad. It’s become a serious business necessity. Its where people, your customers, are looking for companies to do business with.  Your customers are spending time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,  Ning, Flickr and YouTube and if you don’t have a presence, they are finding the competition.

You’ve probably already read that if Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world. And you may also have heard that YouTube® is the 2nd largest search engine in the world surpassed only by Google (for now).

If you own a small business now more than ever you need some cost-effective marketing tools. And social media is cheap!  In fact, for the most part, it’s FREE. Except of course, for T-I-M-E.  And we all have the same 24 hours in a day of which roughly 8.5 of those is spent on our professions, businesses and careers.  And it seems like we have even less time during the holidays to spend socializing online.  With all the parties and events to attend, it can get downright mind-boggling. However, now is NOT the time to stop your social networking activities. Because, your prospects are still online doing their research, spending time connecting with family, friends and colleagues, and making holiday purchases. In fact, now is the perfect time to use social media to reach your prospects and customers with your special offers, incentives, coupons and such.  You must know they are looking at who’s doing what elsewhere. Who’s giving the best buying incentives and who’s giving back to the community. Because in addition to being a business owner, you are also a consumer. And likely doing the same thing.

Here are just a few tips to help you use Social Media this holiday season:

Here’s Looking at You ~ If you’ve been thinking of putting together an informational video to help consumers make wiser buying decisions or to create a holiday experience or just to entertain your customers, there is still time to do so. YouTube, Vimeo and a host of other video sharing sites are ready to host your videos. For a huge list of video hosting sites, check out Internet Video Magazine .

Sharing is Caring ~ What exciting holiday offers or discounts can you share with your followers?  Use the power of social media to spread the word about your latest special that is “exclusive” to those individuals who follow you. And by the way, encourage them to share the offer with their family, friends and business associates.

Use Your Blog to Spread Holiday Cheer ~ Now is the perfect time to shout out to your peeps that you are aligned with a cause or local charity. Encourage your customers to “give a little back” while getting their gift-giving needs met. Online fundraising is becoming mainstream on sites like Facebook’s Causes and MySpace’s Impact.  Now is the time to hop on the cause-marketing hayride.  Be sure your blog posts feed into your social sites so EVERYONE in your funnel knows what your company is doing.

Monitor you Brand’s Reputation ~ If you have not been listening to what people say about your brand, now is as good a time as any to start. In fact, it is probably the BEST time because more people purchase online during the holiday season than any other single time of the year.  How do you monitor your rep?  Here are a dozen FREE tools to help you monitor and manage what’s being said about your company:

  1. Addict-o-matic: Allows you to create a custom-made page to display search results.
  2. Bloglines: A Web-based personal news aggregator that can be used in place of a desktop client.
  3. Blogpulse: A service of Nielsen BuzzMetrics, it analyzes and reports on daily trends in the blogosphere.
  4. FriendFeed Search : Scans all FriendFeed activity.
  5. Google Alerts : Target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports­.
  6. HowSociable? : A simple way to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social Web.
  7. Icerocket: Searches a variety of online services, including Twitter, blogs, videos, and MySpace.
  8. Monitter : Everyone is talking about Twitter, but what are people talking about on Twitter? Beyond the integrated search of Twitter apps like Seesmic and TweetDeck, Monitter provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere.
  9. Seesmic : Monitors multiple Twitter accounts and enables keyword searches and tracking.
  10. Technorati : Search engine and monitoring tool for user-generated media and blogs. Billing itself as “the leading blog search engine,” Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.
  11. Tinker: Real-time conversations from social media sources like Twitter and Facebook.  
  12. UberVU : Track and engage with user sentiment across FriendFeed, Digg, Picasa, Twitter, and Flickr.

(Source: Pamorama )

People spending time on Social Media are spending literally billions of dollars in new business! So how much of it will your company get?  Can you afford not to be Social? Is it time to say Ho Ho Ho to Social Media for your business?

Connect with Heidi Richards Mooney on Twitter at http://twitter.com/heidirichards and http://twitter.com/WE_magazine . On Facebook at http://www.linkedin.com/in/heidirichardsmooney and LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/heidirichardsmooney

And her blogs Tulips Talk at www.TulipsTalk.com and Redhead Marketing at www.RedheadMarketingBlog.com