Hundreds of millions of people have already created accounts with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and thousands more are signing up every day. Chances are good that your target market is using those sites as a way to connect with people and brands. It’s a great time to create a profile for your business and use these sites to your advantage.
Planting the Seed
Twitter and Facebook especially are all about building relationships with people, and joining the conversation as a salesperson will almost guarantee your failure. If you’re looking for a way to immediately boost your sales, social media Web sites are not for you.
A March 2009 report by Michael Stelzner on social media use shows that it takes time for your relationships to bear fruit. A survey found that overall, only 35% of marketers reported closing business through social networking sites. But among marketers who’ve been using the sites for several years, the number jumps to 62%.
That doesn’t mean there are no immediate payoffs. More than 80% of all marketers said social media generated exposure for their business. And after only a few months of using the sites, more than half said they’ve generated qualified sales leads.
Focusing Your Attention
Social media profiles may not cost you any cash, but there is a time commitment. Since using the sites effectively is all about building relationships, you need to narrow your ambitions to fit your available time. Here is a list of the social media sites businesses are currently most interested in:
Originally developed and used by college students, Facebook now has more than twice as many users as the former social media champion, MySpace.
Facebook allows businesses to create profiles, and people can become fans of your business. When someone becomes a fan of your business, your image and a link to your Facebook page show up on their profile.
Imagine how many people you could reach by getting onto a few popular people’s pages.
Sometimes called a micro-blogging site, Twitter users can post and reply to messages with a 140-character limit. The site has a language of its own:
- Posts are called “tweets”, and
- People connect to each other by becoming “followers” of each other.
Many businesses and celebrities are already on board with this quick, easy way to connect with customers and fans.
With more than 38 million members, LinkedIn is a place designed specifically to help businesses leverage the power of their networks.
On LinkedIn, you can find:
- potential clients
- service providers
- subject experts
- business opportunities
Aside from networking sites, another large component of the social media landscape includes blogs. Using a blog, you can:
- Speak directly to your visitors.
- Get your business mentioned in other blogs for third-party credibility.
Start your online word-of-mouth campaign the right way. Follow these simple steps to establish relationships with influential people in online communities to get them talking about you to their networks.
Use criticism as a chance to demonstrate your company's commitment to customer satisfaction by carefully monitoring and responding to negative comments on the Internet.