Two of the most famous social media web sites — MySpace and Facebook — came to fruition about five years ago as places where people could socialize in their off-hours. Then came sites like YouTube, Blogger, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp and Twitter, together with a whole host of copycats — all of which created new ways for people to share their thoughts, their recommendations, their writing, photos and videos with others on the Internet.

social media for real estateAnd now, small- and mid-sized companies are using most of these same social media sites as marketing tools — to reel in potential customers, communicate with current customers, and generate word-of-mouth buzz. All for free. The opportunity is huge. According to the latest research from the Nielsen Company, two-thirds of the world’s Internet users visit a social network or blogging site on a regular basis, making “member communities” as popular as personal email.

Even more encouraging for marketers, however, is the amount of time Nielson says people are spending on social media sites. Of all the things there are to do online these days, the average Internet user is spending more than 10 percent of their time blogging, networking and otherwise socializing. It’s not just teenagers, either. People ages 35 to 49 now make up almost one-third of Facebook’s audience, while another quarter of Facebook’s business is comprised of people over 50.

Best of all, all this socializing is putting people in the mood to buy. According to a recent survey from Accenture, a whopping 60 percent of consumers say word-of-mouth buzz (the strong suit of social media marketing) has the greatest influence on their purchasing decisions. For the business sector it’s blogs, with 53 percent of business professionals reporting they use them as a reference before making big purchasing decisions.

Don’t you think it’s about time you had a presence there?

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