It is hard to believe that the first social media site was introduced over 15 years ago!

It was called “Friends Reunited” and it was developed in Great Britain to help connect former classmates with each other. Fast forward 10 years to 2004 and online consumers are introduced to Facebook, creating a whole new world of social media that users never imagined possible.

These days, consumers have:

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google+

And these are just a few of the most popular social media websites.

What Does all of this Mean for Businesses in 2014?

Well, it means that social media is no longer an option, it is a necessity. If you want your brand authority to grow online then it is time to ramp up your social presence, and here’s how you can get started.

Understanding what social platforms serve as catalysts for driving qualified traffic and expanding online brand awareness is important for maximizing such opportunities.

To begin, just about every business in every vertical should incorporate Facebook into their ongoing social strategy. At the end of 2013 there were over 1.3 billion active facebook users monthly, with 6.8 million deriving from mobile consumers.

Facebook offers paid and dark ads that connect brands with new consumers and audiences across the World Wide Web, making it is easy to reach thousands of people in one swift move.

In addition, there are 540 million active Google+ accounts. Those accounts are only going to increase as Google continues to create a G+ environment that more or less forces online users to engage their properties and tools (YouTube, Gmail).

It is also important not to forget about the ever-growing niche of social bookmarking and image sharing websites out there. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr will continue to increase engagement rates, simply because people like pictures. Engaging with image-based content does not require users to read 750+ word articles; they can simply look at a picture and move on to the next one.

It is important to have eye-popping images and infographics in order to grab consumers’ attention and drive the conversation surrounding your brand.

Boutiques are learning how to utilize Instagram by getting their “followers” to post images wearing clothing and accessories from their store. A perfect example of this technique comes from Moon and Lola, a small boutique founded in Charleston. The store has done contests, including a $100 gift card giveaway, for people who post pictures wearing a product from their store.

 Video Content and Social Media

The next social media trend that has especially grown in the past six months is video. Now that Google owns YouTube, optimizing videos with SEO has becoming key to social strategy. We now also have Vine, which allows users to post a six-second video. There are even “Vine Celebrities” that have become famous using these six seconds clips. After Vine became popular Instagram also started allowing videos to their feed. Whichever business can take advantage of these opportunities and truly be on the forefront of 2014 social advertising will increase their business drastically.

Too often business are not taking advantage of the social media realm of opportunities that are at their doorstep just waiting to generate them more leads and ultimately increase their revenue. If you’re not utilizing social media yet, then what are you waiting for?