By Gary Bury, Mediaburst

Firstly, what is social media? Is it Facebook and twitter, LinkedIn and Squidoo? What about those exciting new start-ups like Flipboard and Quora. What about SMS, is it possible that the humble SMS fits into this burgeoning exciting sector?

Social media is about the techniques we use to reaching out to people, finding people who are interested in whatever it is you have to offer, getting them to hear you, to talk to you, to engage with you, and ultimately buy whatever stuff it is you actually sell.

Facebook, twitter, hubpages, Quora, LinkedIn, and so on. These are all just websites that help you along the way. And their popularity will shift, new ones will arrive, some will die, some will get bought out, and others will raise stupid amounts of money from VC funders in Silicon Valley when they have no viable business model (but that’s another story).

The trick with Social Media is to find an audience and speak to them, tell them what they want to hear, give them what they want to receive.

And that’s where SMS comes in.

Think about it like this, Facebook is great for connecting with people with a Facebook profile. LinkedIn is great connecting with people with a LinkedIn profile, Twitter for people on Twitter. And so on.

But what about those without a Twitter account, those not on Facebook, those who don’t answer questions on Quora.

There is circa 24million people in the UK with a Facebook account (but I bet there are less than 15 million active users). That means there are 38 million people without a Facebook account. Did you get that? More than half the population of the UK haven’t got a Facebook account.

You may well gasp in shock but these people do have money, and they buy stuff, from shops, from the internet, maybe even from you.

And there’s you plugging away at your Facebook fan page.
So let’s have a look at SMS.

Apparently there are 1.8 mobile phones in the UK for every person, which means there are 122 million phones in the UK. Compare that to 24 million Facebook accounts. Wow, if you don’t include SMS then you could be missing a hell of a lot of people.

Then there is the read statistics: 97% of the messages you send will get read. How many of your Twitter followers read all your messages, what is the open rate of your email, maybe 20%? How many have read your squidoo lens?

Read rates on SMS knock the socks of everything, nothing comes close.

Why is this?

Because when you send an SMS my phone beeps, I pick it up, I read your message. We all do. We can’t help ourselves, it only takes seconds and it’s not invasive or inconvenient.

So why aren’t we all getting excited about online sms style marketing?

Because it’s not sexy like the latest overvalued Silicon Valley offering, because you can’t just signup and start following thousands of people and have them follow you back.
I reckon 90% of your twitter followers have no interest in what you have to say. You followed them, they followed you. It’s all very polite. How many of your twitter followers are actually worth something to you?

Same with LinkedIn, you connected with old colleagues, then you found your customers and connected with them, then a few suppliers found you and connected, then they started pestering you with their latest offer, and you got bored of LinkedIn.

With SMS it’s harder to build followers, its permission based marketing, and you have to give them a reason to follow. But every single follower is someone interested in your product or service. And now every text you send is to someone interested in what you have to say or offer.

Even better, when you hit the send button they will get your message in seconds, it means you can time it to perfection. They read it when you want them to read it, not when they decide to dip into their Facebook or twitter account.
So how does SMS Marketing fit into social media?

Like all those websites it’s another avenue to connect, but with a broader reach and more targeted results it’s an avenue you shouldn’t neglect.

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