There seems to be a lot of talk lately about social networking. This article will help you understand what social marketing and networking is all about.
Social networking is essentially the act of interacting with others on the internet. Online networking helps to form connections, establish and enhance relationships, and build a list of contacts. The use of any form of web interaction through which you can express your opinion is social networking.
How does someone use social networking? You can comment on blogs or forums, you can post a video on a site like YouTube, or you can use social bookmarking sites like Digg, Stumbleupon. You might prefer MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. All allow you to send and receive messages from members. There’s really no limit to what you can do.
From a business perspective, social networking can be an incredibly valuable tool. A business owner can hear what their customers are saying about their products or services. Social marketing is also a good way to get ideas for new products and services. What are people talking about? What kinds of questions do they have that you can answer? It’s an information goldmine, and the savvy business owner will use this to his/her advantage. The bottom line is to use social networking to find out what the market is looking for, and then be sure you give it to them.
Another way to use social networking to your advantage is to establish positive relationships with your customers. Take the time to talk to them and interact, without selling. Build the relationship and establish their trust. Use these relationships to ask questions and get ideas. Once you have established a positive relationship your new contacts will be more likely to buy from you and recommend you to their friends.
Think of ways to encourage your visitors to be more interactive and to participate in discussions. Offer incentives, bonuses, fun interactive tools, etc., and use that to build your community. Remember, the more involved your customers are, the more they talk about you! Treat them well and the feedback will be positive.
If you make a mistake, own up to it immediately. Don’t try to pass the buck, dance around the subject, or ignore it in hopes it will go away. Sort out the problem and fix it. Complete transparency is what will help your business and your reputation grow. Word of mouth is viral marketing – you can’t put a value on positive word of mouth.
As awesome as social networking is, it’s important to remember that whatever you say and do online is instantly and permanently broadcast around the world. Once you post something online it is there forever, even if you delete it. When you comment on someone’s blog, submit a website to Digg, post a video on YouTube, or create a page on your own website, remember that every single little thing can make a huge impact on your business. Harness the power of the internet and make it work for you, not against you.