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Social media networks must fit in your strategy NOT alongside it

According to a recent survey on whose opinion we most trust, a good contact on a social media network came third – only beaten by a close friend and family member.

Ok, so people trust the opinions they hear on social networks, but are many people actually listening? Well the answer is simple: yes! Every minute of every day 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube, 100,000 tweets are sent on Twitter and 700,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook.

That’s all very well and good I hear you say, but isn’t it just teenagers who use social networks? Once again the answer is simple: no! In 2012, for instance, 55 per cent of Twitter users were aged 35 or older, while the average Facebook user was aged 40.5-years-old. On the flip side, the age group which uses social networks most overall are 25 to 34-year-olds. As for gender, the average distribution on social networks is 49 per cent male and 51 per cent female.

So there’s a place for everyone in today’s social network landscape. Sites have users that span entire age spectrums and there are no limits to what you can achieve on them – regardless of age or gender. Unlike advertising, social networks provide a platform that allows you to engage in a direct conversation with your target audience. It has the power to raise awareness, attract new customers or supporters, gather feedback and resolve conflict or dissatisfaction.

Or perhaps think of it this way: if your business or brand doesn’t use social networks, it’s what people are saying about you while you’re not in the room. And that room is getting bigger, busier and shaping more and more opinions every minute. Your absence could either be very damaging to your reputation, or a missed opportunity for growth.

In short, if you want your reputation to fit, make sure you fit social media into your business and marketing strategy.