Social media networks can be very helpful to establish a positive image and get the word around when you are running a small or medium-sized business. It has the advantage of making it possible to reach a wide audience with very little capital. However, the extent of advantage you gain from social media networks largely depends on how efficiently you use these platforms. Creating accounts in a number of internet platforms is not what social media networking is all about. You need to do your research, strategize and consistently perform well in the virtual world.
Doing the necessary background research can make a big difference. You will need to know which social media is particularly suitable for advertising your products or services. If you aim to receive customer feedback via social media, you will need to choose a medium that is likely to be popular among your target population. For instance, if you do not do business with other businesses and professionals, it is unlikely that you are going to connect with your customers through LinkedIn. Before you start out, have an idea on how much time and effort you will need to put in to maintain your social media accounts. It is very important that you keep them updated, and interact with your clients and prospective clients regularly. If you promise to deal with customer complains through a social media platform and do not respond to requests and complains on time, your social media networking would be doing your business more harm than good.
Do not create accounts in more number of media than you can handle. It is much better to have two or three platforms where you show an active presence rather than creating ten different accounts and never even logging in. If you blog, do it regularly, and come up with interesting, well-researched, well-crafted posts and be ready to respond to any comments from your audience. Try to include different media, such as pictures, podcast and videos. Keep your customers updated on any developments in your company such as opening of a new branch, a product launch, seasonal offers or a new, better way of delivering your service. Your audience should feel that they gain something by following your social media accounts.
Another aspect you need to be aware of is that no two social media networks can be approached the exact same way. Each has its own style and what works best on one medium will not return similar results in another. For instance, on Twitter you need to be very precise and convey your ideas clearly using just 140 characters. However, this will not seem a pleasant approach if you are posting on Facebook. Facebook users will expect you to be more informal and chatty. You can include more details, and use a conversational tone. Always remember to keep your LinkedIn account professional. These differences in the nature of social media means that you need to spend some time tailoring your content to suit each platform. If you cannot make the effort, you will not be gaining much from social media networking.
Remember to keep to the straight and narrow path. Once you enter the field of online marketing, you will encounter many tantalising offers promising fast tracks to boost your business. Stick to legitimate ways of popularising your business. Stay off techniques such as spamming which may help you in the short term, but is never good for the long-term success of your business. You can submit your account in reputed directories which will boost traffic considerably. Another legitimate option is online advertising. But paid advertising can cost you more than it is worth unless you do the basic research. Do not look for quick-fix means and put in the effort to understand what you are getting into. For instance, whether or not you use the right keywords in your ads can determine if you will be losing or gaining money through online advertising.
Social media networks can be used as a great marketing tool. However, you should not be fooled by the ease with which you can create and use these accounts. Building online relationships is not that different from building relationships in the real world. Just having many friends on Facebook or a large number of connections on LinkedIn is not going to add to the success of your business. You will need to make an effort to provide something valuable to your customers in the form of good quality content and customer service. Your online accounts will be a reflection of your company, and usefulness, accessibility and reliability of your social media account will reflect back on your company’s image.
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