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By March 2013, nearly 40% of the world’s population used the internet daily – that’s approximately 2.8 billion people online, surfing the web everyday. Of that total, an astonishing 1.11 billion people actively used Facebook each month – this means that nearly 50% of internet users use at least one social media website! If you included Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc, this percentage would be much higher. Because social media websites get so much traffic, many businesses focus their marketing strategies around websites such as Facebook in hopes of acquiring brand recognition and increasing revenues.

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This image is taken courtesy of AJ Cann who has been a member since 2005.

This past summer I held an internship at an e-commerce startup. I got to experience how startup businesses function, their lifestyle, and how they expand. In e-commerce, the answer is simple: social media. One of my primary tasks was acquiring exposure. This included using Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, even Reddit to gain Facebook reputation via the “like” system. On Reddit I would post in the “Random”, “Front” and “All” sections hoping to grab some initial publicity. I would then find forums and blogs via Tumblr that matched the business’s content and post the Facebook link and website there. The more likes the page had, the more exposure the business would get. Eventually, the strategy involved leading people from one social media website to another. By tweeting about discount codes seen on the Facebook page, the amount of ‘likes’ nearly doubled.

When I started in June, the Facebook page had nearly 200 likes and about 3-4 orders per week. Now, the page has over 1000 likes, receives at least 1 order per day, and has expanded its inventory by more than 50% – all in the span of 4 months. By utilizing social media websites for constant exposure, this business was able to experience a large amount of growth within a relatively short amount of time. This is strictly due to the sheer number of social media users. So many people use these websites that it is nearly impossible for you to go unnoticed. If social media websites did not exist or were not as popular, small startup companies would find growth a much slower process.

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This image is take courtesy of Gabriel McIntosh who has been a member since 2005. 

Due to its popularity, social media is a startup’s primary marketing tool. A study done in the UK found that nearly 57% of small businesses use social media websites as part of their marketing strategy. This cheap and effective means of exposure makes social networks a unique and integral part of every business’s marketing strategy. If a business is in its earliest stages, these resources can prove to be its true, best friend.

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