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Are you in the social media world or standing on the sidelines?

Social media has changed the world.

Let me clarify that statement. Social media has changed your world.

Whatever you’re doing online, whether it’s tweeting, LinkedIning, Facebooking or YouTubing, social media has changed your way of communicating one-on-one, one-on-customer base and one-to-the-world.

Facebook is the easiest phenomenon to understand. It has changed the way you communicate with your friends and your family and has opened the freedom door to anyone who you come in contact with, either business or personal. You have found old friends, schoolmates and co-workers, and they have found you. And, in the same way, you can find customers and prospective customers, and they can find you.

Because of social media and the Internet, big companies no longer have a big advantage. Anyone can create a news blog that can immediately compete with The New York Times. The music industry has been leveled by groups performing their own videos and selling them on iTunes. Groups are creating free videos on YouTube, and they have done it far more efficiently, at far less cost, than records or CDs since they have been invented.

LinkedIn has created a new way to cold call and a much more sophisticated way for businesses to connect. You can go on LinkedIn and search by job title and find prospective customers at no cost. It’s also the employment agency of the future.

Twitter allows you to gain a following of people interested in your thoughts, your information or the information of others that they perceive as valuable.

YouTube is the new movie theater and you have about 1 billion choices. Millions of new movies are added every day. If you have heard that expression “to the cloud,” YouTube currently occupies half of heaven.

Someone interviewing for a job completely exposes themselves through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube the same way a company is exposed in the same social media.

Note: Job hunting and job placement are the second-largest activity on LinkedIn.

And yet there are people who discount social media, avoid it and even bad-mouth it. Those people are fools and you know some of them.

Reality: Social media and business social media have created new sales, new marketing, new exposure, new branding, new communication, new networking and new business opportunities, the likes of which have never been seen or known before. And the revolution is just starting.

Most businesses, business people, business executives and salespeople are still social media-inept.

Note well: There are very few things or actions and there are very few people or circumstances that can change the rules of the game. Social media has changed all four. People, circumstances, things and actions have all been changed forever as a result of posting, tweeting, linking and connecting. And the people who have taken advantage of it have changed their outreach in a way that has all of their traditional competitors shaking in their boots.

Think about your social media place as you plan your marketing outreach for the next 10 years and ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s my current position in my marketplace?

2. How do my customers perceive me?

3. Can my customers access my company to leave comments and tell stories 24/7?

4. Do I really know what my competition is thinking and saying?

5. How attractive am I to my customers?

6. What’s my value proposition that favors my customers and how do I let them know it, day after day, without simply repeating it?

There is an unspoken strategy for businesses to employ and that strategy focuses around the word “value.” The more you offer, the more attractive you will become. The less you offer, the more anonymous you will remain.

At this writing, Facebook is only the third-largest country in the world. There is no doubt it will achieve No. 1 status in under a decade. Think about that. Right now Facebook has a 16 percent market share of the world population.

I have only been actively involved in social media for three years. This year I am going all out to attract, engage and connect. I have hired a consulting firm to help me. I have three people on staff posting events, monitoring my accounts and helping me.

Authenticity: I do my own tweets, either dictate or post my updates on Facebook and I am active (accepting invitations and responding or corresponding) on LinkedIn. I believe that staying personally involved keeps my message true to my philosophy and helps me learn.

Nike said, “Just do it!”

I’m saying, “Just do it, now!”

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs sales meetings and conducts Internet training on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com.

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