Social networking has played an integral role in transforming our business. In 2008, we did over 90% of our business offline – – and – – while there are many other factors at play, we are currently doing between 70-75% of our business offline, and we expect this number to keep trending downward.
The thing that bothers me most about the perception of social networking is that people still have doubts about the success of these tools as they relate to business. These “naysayers” typically fall into one of two categories:
- Those who heard a negative experience from a friend/colleague and have never actually tried to experiment with social media
- Those who used social media in an ineffective manner in such a way that they actually dissuaded prospects from buying from them
Neither of these strike me as the type of individual I would want in charge of my marketing department.
The benefits of social media are numerous and these tools are so new that you can expect many new ones to develop over time. Here are the primary benefits:
- Find new customers: Social sites such as Twitter and Facebook have many simple to use/teach tools that you can use to find potential customers.
- Give current customers added value: There are sites such as Alltop that allow you to find industry-related topics that would be of benefit to your customers. By posting this information you become seen as a valuable resource and stay fresh in the customer’s mind
- Create positive content to combat your detractors: It is a fact that regardless of how great your company is and how excellent a service you perform you will have some people who want to damage your image. By enlisting your customers to post positive reviews on such sites, you will help to avoid negative perceptions.
- Improve your search engine ranking: Social networking sites are ranked extremely high by Google. In many cases they may even rank higher than your own website. The more material that you have on the first few pages of Google will improve your value in the eyes of the prospect immensely.
- Build inbound links to your website: Nothing improves search engine optimization more than inbound links to your website and with the abundance of social networking sites available you can easily build relevant links that will continuously work for you in building traffic for your site.
- Establish yourself as the local authority: There are many forums that you can use to build up your credibility further. It is easy to monitor these sites and find the questions that are aligned with your business model.
- Network with other businesses: This is an often overlooked part of these sites, but the majority of companies out there are looking to help as part of a reciprocal relationship. You will be shocked at the business partnerships that can develop overnight just through the basis of a simple online conversation.
The marketing cost(s) of utilizing social networking sites is peanuts. If you spend a week learning how to use them, you can spend only 30 minutes-1 hour participating every day and you will see amazing results.
For more information on how to utilize social networking in your business feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org