When the internet was first developed, most of the information you could find about a product or business was published by the product creator on a business website. These first generation company websites enabled consumers to search for information, find product details or specifications, and use that information to determine which product or service to purchase.
Today, the internet and its use have evolved light years into the future. Business websites are more creative and extensive and websites with user-generated content are becoming increasingly more popular. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others are giving individuals and businesses a place to connect with their current and potential buyers. As a result, when it comes to reaching out to our potential markets relying solely on websites and traditional marketing channels will no longer be sufficient.
Social media can have a strong impact on the way a business grows online. To realize the full impact and far-reaching benefits these sites can offer you will have to overcome the perception that they are for recreational use only. Social media opens the door of opportunity for businesses to add to the communications aspect of their marketing plans and cannot be overlooked as an effective online marketing strategy. By creating profiles on social media sites, you have the opportunity to target your market by connecting with people who have some sort of interest in what you have to offer, reducing the amount of time and money you may spend trying to find a focused group to talk to.
Start your social media marketing campaign by choosing one or two of the most popular social media sites. There are dozens but you should start small with one or two so you can focus your efforts before adding others to your campaign. The most popular include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Delicious. After creating a profile on one of these sites, you can use it to make connections, network and promote your products and services with those interested, and gather customer feedback. Other benefits can include a surge of back links and traffic to your website, both from your social media networks and from those who post on their blogs and websites.
Let’s not forget the most important benefit – customer engagement and feedback. By putting yourself on social media websites you will be opening yourself up to public criticism. Granted, the majority of your contacts will likely praise what you do, those who have had bad experiences are likely to speak up as well. These instances will provide you with the opportunity to address concerns, both publicly and privately, and can enhance your customer relations.
Aside from a time investment, you will find that working with these sites is a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing methods. Anyone with internet access can take advantage of these networks to build connections and make information readily available to the public.