Is Social Media the Wave of the Future?

Computers are used for all sorts of things these days. But one expert at Microsoft says small businesses aren't using them enough. He's written a help guide for businesses looking for inexpensive ways to market themselves. Bill Stamps has more.

Logging onto the computer has become as common as watching TV. Some people even watch TV on their computer. That's why marketing expert John Jantsch says small businesses should use computers more. Not for taxes, payroll, or any of that stuff. But to market themselves on the latest programs. He calls it social media.

"You know it used to be two, three, five years ago all you needed was a website and that's what they pushed small businesses towards. Really now it's more of a web presence."

Jantsch says there are all sorts of social media out there that business owners or managers can use to their advantage. And the best part about them all…is they're free.

"You know Facebook is a perfect example. That is a network where people congregate and they converse over sort of like-minded ideas, or because they're around the world but they're in the same industry, or maybe they graduated from the same university."

You may have heard your son or daughter talking about Facebook or MySpace and think it's just for the younger crowd. Jantsch admits many of them are in the 15 to 30 range, but he says that's where your new customers are going to come from. And again, it's free.

"If you're say the plumber who thinks well gosh, people just go to the phone book they look me up, they call me when their drain is plugged. That may still be true today for a percentage of your market but all the growth is gonna come out of this new market that's under 30. And they're used to getting online and finding out what other people think."

Microsoft has a free book you can download online that talks more about social media, including the use of blogs. The book is called less talk social media for business. You can get it at small business-dot-office live-dot-com forward-slash social media.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio news.