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6 Dimensions: Understanding Social Media Literacy for Business Leaders

Social media tools make it easy for small business owners to interact with their current customers while attracting new clients, too. As a result, understanding social media is essential for small businesses that rely on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about their company.

The Benefits of Social Media

Social media has several business-boosting benefits. First, it helps level the playing field between small businesses and the large organizations that use powerful marketing and public relations strategies. Social media make it possible for any business owner with a computer to let people know about new products and services, upcoming events and other information that might appeal to potential customers. Understanding social media also makes it possible for small business owners to generate excitement about their companies. Small businesses typically can't afford full-page magazine ads or 30-second TV spots. However, social media makes it possible for them to get their message out to thousands of people at very little cost. Ultimately, this type of marketing can help drive Web site traffic, locate potential customers and create a consistent brand image across several platforms.

As a business owner, you should be familiar with the six dimensions of social media marketing literacy:

1. At the personal level, you should be able to understand what makes social media messages go viral.

2. As a social media producer, you should develop an authentic voice and be able to create compelling content.

3. As a recipient of social media messages, you should be able to filter through messages to find the ones that are most important.

4. At the organizational level, you should be able to coordinate social media activities and support an interactive social media environment.

5. As an advisor, you should understand the cultural impact of social media and leverage its power for marketing and other business functions.

6. At an analytical level, you should be able to monitor and respond to social trends as they are happening.

Technology & Innovations to Help You Understand Social Media

Those interested in understanding social media realize that anyone with a computer or mobile phone can connect with customers and spread the word about a company's products and services. In the past, business owners had to spend a lot of time and money buying advertising, working with public relations consultants and making pitches to reporters. With social media, however, small business owners can reach their target audience directly and eliminate those costs. Improving your understanding of social media can help you drive sales, increase customer satisfaction and streamline your marketing efforts.

The Cost of Keeping Up

Along with giving you direct access to your customers, another benefit of social media is that it’s extremely cost effective. In fact, many social media tools are free. You may have to buy some social media apps for your laptop, tablet or mobile device, but the cost is minimal — only a few dollars for each application. The low cost of these apps makes increasing your social media literacy an easy way to reduce your marketing expenses. There are a few social media pitfalls your business should avoid. One major mistake is using social media to argue with customers who have complained about your products or services. Another is posting too many messages that aren't relevant to people in your target market. Be careful to post targeted messages that will appeal to the people you want to have as customers.

Social media is an important part of your marketing strategy, as it helps you reach a broad audience without significantly increasing your costs. Make sure you invest in the right tools and educational products that will help you understand how to use social media properly.

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