The thought of social networking in the business sense probably has some negative perceptions on the part of some people in management positions. One perception is that employees waste a lot of company time on the Internet, updating or posting on their Facebook or Myspace pages. Although internet usage for personal reasons on company time is a problem that many companies have to deal with, there are some things a company can do to use social networking sites to their advantage.
Statistically a person is more likely to click on a link posted on a Facebook page than on a banner ad. If you have a lot of friends on Facebook, this could be quite beneficial. Also, links posted on Facebook pages get a better response than e-mail campaigns. In this age of spam, people spend more time deleting e-mails than actually reading them. Even Twitter gets a better response rate than some banner ads or e-mail campaigns. So why shouldn’t you use those statistics to your company’s benefit
A lot of companies are already engaging people on social networking sites. Some of them may be your competitors. By you not utilizing the same resources, you are actually giving your competitors an advantage by allowing them to use a cheap form of marketing and promotion that you yourself are not using. Many companies start their own discussion groups and build a following. That following is what some in internet marketing circles may refer to as a community of value.
The concept of building a community of value has to do with having a centralized location where people can discuss your company’s service or products. They may also be there to discuss some topics having to do with your industry. You may then use that as a forum to announce your upcoming product releases or information regarding your services. The idea is to pull in your target demographic to which you prefer to market to.
Let’s say you are a night club or tavern owner. You can start a Myspace music page. On that music page you can post songs from some of the local bands that may play at your establishment. You can also post your entertainment or events calendar. Then you can search for people in the local area, even by zip code, and send out friend requests to them. At your establishment, list your page so that your customers can be added as one of your friends. Now you have an online community to advertise and market to.
That’s just an example of one industry that can benefit from using social networking sites. Another example could be a fitness club. It could have a Facebook or Myspace page that can include blogs on health and fitness tips. Other people in the local area can stumble onto the page and become interested in signing up for a membership after engaging in some of the online discussions. The blogs could be about anything having to do with fitness. They could also be about healthy eating, weight loss, tips on avoiding injury during exercise or health related issues.
Another great advantage of using social networking sites is the fact that it is very user friendly. In the old days, in order to have an internet presence, you would have to hire a web developer to create a site for you. A lot of businesses are using a profile page on a social networking site as a means of establishing an internet presence. They update it themselves and are able to do it at their own convenience. Let’s also not forget that it’s free. Having a website developed for your business could be quite costly. However, if your company already has a website, you may use your social networking pages to complement it and drive traffic to it. So it will help your business whether you have your own website or not.
You can also use YouTube as a means of promoting your business. YouTube allows you to have friends, just like the other social networking sites, and allows people to subscribe to your videos. If they subscribe, they will be notified whenever you release a new video. You can do your own commercials or promotional videos and post them on your YouTube page. You may then take the embed code and post it on any of your other social networking profile pages. The best approach would be to try to use all of these sites in conjunction with one another.
Customizability is a nice feature to consider as well. Twitter allows you to use any background image you want. You could use the same background image you use for your Twitter page that you would for your Myspace or YouTube pages. It could also be the same one you use for your website. This would give all of your pages a consistent look and create the impression that they are all just an extension of your main website or each other.
Business opportunities may even come your way that may not have otherwise, had you not had an internet presence. So the potential is there for social networking sites to be used as business networking sites. The point is that social networking sites aren’t just for socializing anymore. They could also be used for business reasons.