Social Networking

With so many internet savvy, and often addicted, individuals today, having a professional internet presence gives many companies an advantage over the competition that may not have an online face. So what do you do if you haven’t been able to create a company website yet? Or what can you do to get further exposure for the website you do have? And how do you do it without paying high listing and advertisement fees online? A few of us here at dESCO thought we would take some classes on how online Social Networking can pump up business for a company and skip out on those pricey fees. (Classes were held by Theresa Ayers of GSW Consulting, who was also a long time contracting business owner with her husband, so the perspective seemed on spot for our customers in the service industry.)

How many of you have personal accounts with social networking sites; such as, Facebook, Twitter of Linked In? Have you ever thought of using these networks as a way to get your business in front of people? More and more businesses are using these free networking sites to get their name out in front of the public. Many people may be familiar with Linked In as a professional resume and networking site, but were you aware that Facebook offers Fan pages for businesses to reach out and create a following of Facebook users? You can create a page about your company, post pictures, and provide tips and ideas to help the fans following your page. You can do the same on Twitter. Twitter is more of a fast paced communication outlet where smaller pieces of information are shared at a time and more immediate reactions are expected, but this is still an opportunity to get your company name out there and be a presence in a social network of information-hungry users.  All these sites give you the opportunity to join groups related to your industry and interests and works similarly to a blogging environment.

Blogs create a forum for people to ask questions, vent concerns and post observations in hopes of finding someone to provide solutions, personal experiences and guidance. Blogging can be especially helpful in the service industry. As a business, hosting your own blog, and following or participating in relevant industry blogs, enables you to keep an eye on what is plaguing consumers, keep on top of issues and be proactive when you see an opportunity become known. Of course there is always concern that complaints will also be posted by unhappy customers, but it’s important to realize that even not so favorable postings can be an opportunity for you to shine. Be aggressive and see how you can turn that person’s experience into a positive one.

Most people could probably agree that one of the most effective, and cheapest, ways to advertise is word of mouth. If you have a happy customer, then they will let others know just how happy they are with you, which in turn can result in more customers. You want to use online networking to be a platform to expand on this concept. Get your name out in front of new people, be helpful, and create a reputable image to peers, customers, prospects and even competitors.  Remember that it isn’t just the people you are directly touching or communicating with during all this online networking, it is also the people they know. If someone likes what they see online about you, they will pass that along to someone who needs your services. Be positive, helpful and an expert in your field, and it is bound to pay off.

It is recommended to be a presence in all areas to optimize your exposure. You also want to link your website, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and blog pages together so that people always have the option of finding out more information about your business. Trying to keep up with all these communication spots can be a bit overwhelming at first, but remember it is important to become established, keep your writing style consistent and stay active, even if it is only once or twice a week. Just be sure to plan your time accordingly or assign trusted individuals to stay on top of the activity. Don’t let it monopolize your time. You want to know if someone needs your help and take advantage of that opportunity but keep things in perspective.  It is great that these networking sites give even the smallest of companies an opportunity to establish an online reputation with a budget of zero dollars; however, your time is required and your time can be priceless, so budget well.

Written by Dawn Forbes
Featured in November 2009 Newsletter

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