As brick and mortar businesses struggle for customers, online businesses continue to create more platforms to increase traffic. For years the separation between the two seemed to be permanent. However, more and more business owners now use social media to bridge the gap between stores and ecommerce. Twitter and Facebook are two online communities that fill the void with multi-million member databases, with Facebook eclipsing the billion-member landmark. Businesses the world over now understand the importance of creating their respective brands in either or both of these communities. No longer can business turn the other cheek and expect to maintain any sort of legitimacy among its customer base without the use of social media. Social media is as crucial to success as much as newspaper advertising was only a few short years ago.
To establish or re-establish a brand as an additional online entity, the presence of online advertising via social media is exploding worldwide. Only the Internet itself limits the reach of these online communities. From a business perspective, Facebook is regarded as an appealing platform for younger people, still with the ability to reach millions of potential customers. The viability of Facebook advertising is discussed in different marketing circles, but the sheer number of users in this network is so massive that its potential simply cannot be underestimated. Today’s businesses must make the decision to become Facebook members and use this community to further establish themselves as legitimate businesses in the eyes of its members.
Twitter, on the other hand, uses a different approach to reach its members. Using a text-based system that allows only 140 characters per “Tweet” has its limitations. This limitation is not the problem it once was, however. Users adapted well to the character limitation by creatively using abbreviations similar to those used in texting. Early in Twitter’s existence, many businesses wrote off Twitter as a passing fad. With Twitter’s membership approaching 300 million, once again the potential of reaching millions of customers cannot be ignored.
Obviously, online communities must be part of the advertising strategy for businesses today. Even the smallest businesses realize the benefits of belonging to an online community. Cost of advertising using either Facebook or Twitter is miniscule compared to their newspaper and radio counterparts. The choice for businesses to become involved socially using these platforms helps increase exposure and subsequently creates good will among readers and eventually leads to increased, targeted traffic to their respective websites.