The short answer is – YES. Social networking provides the following to a business:
- Add a human element to your product(s) and/or service(s)
- Engage with customers directly, but informally
- It’s fun for many – and very easy to use
- Can help drive traffic to primary website(s)
- Create a buzz around your website(s), product(s), service(s) or brand(s)
- Assist with search engine rankings by establishing inbound links
- Create loyalty and trust through an online community
But to find a true answer to this question, you must ask yourself the following:
- Does my organization have the resources to effectively keep social networking sites up-to-date? This could be internal work or outsourcing to a competent firm (or individual).
- Which social networking sites deliver the best benefit? Particularly if resources are limited.
- Does it matter if my business is B2B vs. B2C when I organize and implement an online strategy involving social networking?
- How do I get people to follow me online?
These are all very important questions and cannot be addressed in depth in a simple blog. However, I’m going to attempt to break down some of the most popular social networking sites – and hopefully help you start thinking about your online social networking strategy.
Here are a few rules to keep in mind:
Rule #1: Do not over-commit to social networking.
Many people (and firms) make the mistake of signing up for every single social networking site available. While being on all of the social networking sites can generate larger degrees of exposure, if content is not kept fresh, then users will lose interest (very quickly). If resources are limited, focus on the most important social networking sites for your business or outsource to a firm like AI Software to keep ROI high.
Rule #2: Know your market.
Certain social networking sites are more geared toward B2C marketing rather than B2B. Find out what social networking outlets can best benefit your business and marketing efforts – focus on those.
Rule #3: Realize what social networking truly ‘is’.
Social networking was created to be ‘fun’ first. While many businesses are reaping the benefits of having online social networking exposure, it should never be the primary focus of your business or marketing efforts – it should only be used to enhance the efforts that are working for your organization already.
So, in order to help you better understand social networking – and perhaps develop a strategy – I’m going to give you an insider’s opinion on some of the most popular social networking sites today.
If you’re going to commit to a single social networking site, make it YouTube! Since being acquired by Google, this is an excellent outlet to post videos that will get ranked on Google (if posted effectively). At AI Software, we record and post video testimonials from our clients as well as product videos (for instruction and marketing). YouTube is fun as well as beneficial to your business.
If you’re considering (or all ready utilizing Facebook), remember that it is for entertainment first and foremost. It’s great for connecting with friends and sharing information, but the business use is more appropriate for B2C companies. If you are a B2B company, focus on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great site for connecting with other business professionals. It offers great services for business (and social) networking as well as finding suppliers and promoting products. LinkedIn is heavily used by recruiters, so if you’re looking for a job – GET ACTIVE on LinkedIn.
Constant updates of a ‘normal’ person’s life are boring and counter-productive. However, if used properly, Twitter can help generate a buzz for products, services and brands. Twitter is more for a B2C company and should be used in that manner. Think of a restaurant that uses an NFL player as a spokesperson. Commission the spokesperson to ‘tweet’ about the restaurant regarding special events, pricing, etc. This would be highly effective; however, ‘tweeting’ about ‘a day in the life of Terry Robinski’ is just the opposite.
Well, I hope this has been helpful. Now for the plug – AI Software can assist you with all your social networking needs in 2010 and beyond. Send me an email and let’s get it figured out for you!Terry