social_media_wagen

What is Social Media? Still considered an emerging idea, and still relatively in its infancy, social media is something that is difficult to define. Social media is a general term covering interactive broadcasts such as blogs, as well as social networking web sites (think of Facebook). Why should you use these tools in your business?

Some of the more popular social media websites are:

MySpace: Initially a site for bands to promote themselves, it has become one of the most popular sites on the Web today. Anyone can create a profile and there are no identity checks. Companies targeting consumers often utilize this resource to set up shop.

Facebook: It started as a site just for students but its popularity has grown to such an extent that this site is now open to everyone. A January 2009 Compete.com study has ranked Facebook as the most used social network by worldwide monthly active users, followed by MySpace.

Twitter: Enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide by Alexa Internet’s web traffic analysis. In March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009.

Why Should I Utilize Social Networking Sites for my Business?

  1. Your existing (and potential!) customers and clients are already at these sites and you need to go where your customers are.

  2. Location, location, location! Think of it as setting up your virtual store in a location with a lot of foot traffic.

  3. Social networking sites cost nothing to join, and your only overhead costs will be your time.

How Do I Get Started with Social Networking?

      • Investigate: Look around to find the sites where your best customers are.

      • Pay Attention: Once you’ve joined, pay attention to the conversations around you. Avoid jumping into unrelated conversations with news of how great your products or services are.

      • Interact: Find a group relevant to your needs for you to participate in. If you sell car parts, find and join a car lovers’ group.

      • Create Your Own: Start your own group for current clients and colleagues to join.

      • Get Feedback: Establish a communication link for clients or customers to comment on your products and services, or for others in a similar industry to yours to suggest ideas that have worked for them in the past.

 

How Do I Ensure My Success with Social Media?

As social media networking is still in the early stages of what promises to be a long and fruitful life, there are no simple answers to this question. All the fuss surrounding this tool might turn out be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Are you willing to sit on the sidelines, though, while your competitors make the first move and build connections and relationships with your potential customers?

The most important thing to remember is that these social mediums are locations for people to network, as one would at any party or social gathering. The same social rules and etiquette will therefore apply. Interaction with fellow users is the key to your success on these sites.

Here are some tips:

      • Know why you’re using a particular site. Use Twitter, for example, to gain visibility and develop relationships with others.

      • Provide what is required. Know what your followers want and provide it. It’s as easy as that!

      • Get your followers to cross over. Point your Twitter followers to your Facebook page, and vice-versa. You will find that new followers will get caught up in the mix.

      • Use a familiar face. Keep the same avatar (or profile picture) for each site to establish a familiarity for your brand, thereby making it easily recognizable.

      • Help others. If someone posts a question or problem for which you have a solution, attract their loyalty, or following, by helping them out. You will more than likely become an ‘expert’ in their eyes, adding to your popularity.

      • Form alliances. If you mention a great product or service of someone else’s, chances are that they will reciprocate by mentioning you in return. This is a ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ scenario that could be very useful.

      • Put in the time. You will only get what you put in. If you are not active on these sites, you will not reap any rewards.

      • Keep it simple. Don’t be the person at the party that doesn’t know when to keep quiet. Avoid inundating your followers with information.

      • Remember your manners. Understand that these social mediums have their own social etiquette.

      • Add Value to the site. Don’t submit content just because it promotes you and your company. Make sure that you are providing useful information to the particular community you have joined.

In Conclusion

While social media networking is still in the development stages, with the rules still being written, the only thing that seems certain is that more and more users are flocking to these sites. Memberships have grown exponentially with no signs of slowing down.

The business landscape seems to be changing, with these sites becoming the coffee shops and street corners of the 21st century. Do you really want to be left behind?

Contributed by:
Candice Turnbull

 

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