Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Power of Social Media
For many businesses, social media still remains a big question mark. Many are not sure if social media constitutes a medium that is largely untested. They wonder how a good brand can survive in the unpredictable environment of the online communities.
This is the reason why many companies are still not capitalizing on the huge opportunities those social media offers, such as connecting with high-quality business consumers. The advantages of social media far outweigh any disadvantages companies may be worried about.
Social media marketing is considered to be the future of online businesses. There are several social media available today for business people, such as blogs, audio, video and social networking sites. Companies can leverage the power of social media by becoming a part of the online communities.
Social Media Participation
Becoming a part of the online communities involves participating in discussions. However, companies must first understand what people are talking about and determine how best to contribute. Since social media platforms are used to facilitate conversations between people and not companies; once it is clear as to what people are talking about, companies can identify employees within the organization to participate in these conversations. People usually prefer talking to company representatives that are experts in their field. Companies should give these selected employees the power to implement any good ideas they obtain from the community. This holds true in every social media platform. Employees should also be trained on social media participation.
Creating Guidelines and Strategy
Companies should have a social media policy with clear guidelines on how the employees should engage in these community discussions. The do’s and the don’ts become important as employees are brand ambassadors, projecting the image of their company. Since there is a lot to social media and it has numerous platforms, it is important to identify the ones that are relevant and worthwhile for the company. Participating in a few of them by following a planned strategy for participation, will give a clear picture to the employees, as to how much time they will need to spend in social media communication and what the actual aim of participation is.
Increasing Social Media Participation
After the initial getting-used-to period, companies usually start furthering their social media participation by leaving comments on blogs; uploading videos of and about their company to the relevant social networking sites, such as YouTube and Flickr; participating actively on either Twitter or elsewhere, to further the discussions and gain people’s trust and belief in the company’s commitment in wanting to provide good services or products, and developing relationships in the community.
• Blogging – The blogosphere is an excellent place to start. It is for a reason that there are millions of blogs out there. Posting on the blogs about the business and being a source of information in the way of sharing knowledge and answering questions demonstrates immense value for potential clients. A good example is Matt Cutts of Google, who supposedly blogs as the GoogleGuy, where he discusses about Google and gives tips to visitors on SEO and other things.
• Videos – While blogs are just text, there are other forms of social media, such as videos. They are very easy to create and upload, and it does not have to be a large video, just a quick few seconds video of the office should do. Even a simple video on YouTube under the company name can prove to be extremely useful. The video brings people to the company website and is a wonderful social media tool to getting great results.
• Social Networking Sites – Companies should ensure that their marketing messages are highly relevant and appear at moments when community members are considering buying a product or service. LinkedIn and iTtoolbox are more business oriented and professional when compared to MySpace, and they provide companies the opportunity to reach consumers at workplace. Several businesses report good results, in terms of getting high quality business leads by making connections and being findable.
Taking the online relationships offline
Although, social media is a wonderful tool, it still cannot replace face-to-face meetings. Combining online with offline could work wonders for a company. They can arrange events such as trade shows to build stronger relationships with the members of the online community. It could be in any form, such as an informal get-together for a breakfast or even a semi-formal discussion group. The success of a company lies in learning more about their customers and making the customers understand the company better and this can be achieved by utilizing the power of social media. It may sound like a time consuming and difficult task, but the payoff for companies is huge, as long as the company approaches social media with a well-planned strategy in place.