In the third quarter of this year, small and medium-sized businesses spent an average of 16% more of their budgets than ever before on social media advertising versus the more common forms of print and outdoor advertising. According to research firm BIA/Kelsey—and no wonder, given the power of social media to support the brand-building goals of businesses. More and more businesses are using social media as an avenue to tell their stories, engage their customers, promote their messages and tease their prospects—as evidenced by the startling data that nearly 75% of small and medium sized business (as defined by fewer than 100 employees) now use social media to advertise or promote their businesses—up 71.7% from last year.

What is truly the power of social media for business? It is no longer about having a presence on Facebook or LinkedIn where businesses hope to be found. It’s about integration: how a company integrates social media into their overall marketing strategy, using social media platforms deliberately to tell their story and get their brand message across. In these days of less and less mail, and these minutes of more and more smart phone and tablet usage, social media can provide another avenue to help reach a desired audience. This doesn’t mean that other forms of outreach go away; it is just that overall advertising budgets get re-allocated. For example, small and medium-sized business usage of print and outdoor advertising combined totaled just 59.3% this year, down from 63% last year.

It is clear that social media is being embraced by more and more small to medium-sized businesses. However, when it comes to Return On Investment (ROI), the BIA/Kelsey study noted that only 26.2% of small and medium businesses rated social media as “extraordinary” or “excellent.” Successfully tapping in to customers through social media as a mechanism to drive revenue is where the proverbial rubber meets the road.

To jump-start the social media marketing conversation among area business owners and corporate executives, Capital Bank, N.A., is sponsoring a complimentary event on Social Media Strategies for Business Success. The event will feature Dave Nelsen, an award-winning entrepreneur, internationally noted speaker, and industry-recognized CEO of several companies including social media podcast pioneer, TalkShoe. Nelsen will share his experience and insights on how to define a company’s social media brand, develop social media marketing strategies, and improve online communication with customers.

“Capital Bank is excited to bring such an industry expert and dynamic speaker as Mr. Nelsen to our area,” says Ed Barry, CEO. “We hope the event will provide valuable insight into how to stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing world of social media.”

An interactive question and answer session will round out Nelsen’s presentation, followed by a cocktail reception where attendees can network with their peers. The event is open to business owners and executives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

The Capital Bank-sponsored event, part of the bank’s Thinking Ahead Business Series, will be held at Gannett/USA TODAY corporate headquarters in McLean, VA on Thursday, December 4, 4:00-5:30 p.m. For more information and to RSVP, visit

Designed to help businesses plan, execute and grow in today’s challenging business environment, the Thinking Ahead Business Series is an on-going series of events bringing industry leaders and experts together to address pressing topics and issues. These complimentary events, which are open to the public, are an extension of Capital Bank’s commitment to supporting local businesses’ success.