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This past week, I have learned the value of social media. I recently stumbled upon Online Yard Sales on Facebook. It's quite different from a traditional yard sale; there's no setting up and displaying of items, and people are able to see what you have for sale before going to your house. It couldn't be simpler for the seller. 

Just in case this is new for you, here's how it works:

  1. First, you need to find an online yard sale in your area. All you have to do is search for "Online Yard Sale" on your Facebook page, and a few should show up.
  2. Then, you have to join an Online Yard Sale group in order to make posts.
  3. Once you've joined, post pictures of the items you'd like to sell, with a description and an asking price, to the group page. When someone from the group posts new items to the Online Yard Sale, it usually sends out a notification to everyone who is in the group of the items you added. This way, many people will see the items you have for sale, and you're almost sure to get an offer.

Soon after I put up a picture of my stove, I had three people say they were interested. The first person contacted me and arranged a time for them to come see the stove. The potential buyer brought people with her to help transport the stove and bought it on the spot. In a matter of a few hours, my stove was sold. Incredible! 

I realized I had underestimated the power of social media and social networking as a whole.

The Pluses and Minuses of Social Media

Social media is a helpful source for reaching out to the people who are looking for you and your services. When I was in search of a new dentist, I asked around to my friends to see who would be a good fit for me. If you're on Facebook, there's a good chance you have seen some of your friends post these same questions, and often there are many responses that follow. On Facebook, your name gets passed around. Which can be a good thing! "Word of mouth" has always been considered to be the best advertising!

Often, Facebook does serve as a complex web of interaction and references, but it doesn't always lead to you. Social media is not as sustainable as your website, and that's why you can't depend solely on Facebook or Twitter to get your message across to your clients. They are wonderful tools but tools nonetheless.

Social media also provides a place where you can get feedback on your products from potential customers. I've seen numerous clothing boutiques post photos of clothing items and ask Facebook friends to comment whether they like the item or not. The clothing boutiques can then fill their store with items they know their potential customers are interested in. This is great for small retail businesses, but this benefit may not extend to other types of businesses.  

Social media allows you to directly communicate with your clients, but on this platform, you may not be the expert anymore. While discussing this with Daniel, he stated, "When Amy Lynn tells me a piece of information and then reveals that her source is Facebook, I automatically discredit it."

That's why it is imperative for businesses to have their own web presence, in a platform in which they are the expert of their service.

Social media can be very helpful for companies, but if you do not have a website to spring from, it may not provide a greater impact. Your website is where you are the expert. It's where all of the valid information is and it's where you educate your client. Social media merely serves as a flirt, with the main goal of having people follow you back to your website.