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The Future is Social Media
As you’ve likely read recently, lots of big corporations are trying to harness
the power of social networks to help grow their sales. But even if you’re not a
huge retailer, you can still leverage social media to share information about
your products as well as to communicate with your customers. I like to think
of Social Media Marketing efforts as one part of a larger strategy. Lots of
people (your potential customer base) like to communicate in different ways.
Some will browse to your website for info, others are on email all day and
respond to electronic promotions over anything they get in the mail, and
others still prefer to rely on recommendations from friends and family that
they might find on social networks.
One important thing to remember about the various social networks is that
each has distinct functionality and users log on for different reasons. Here’s a
quick overview of three extremely popular platforms.
Twitter users (aka Tweeters aka Tweeple) use this service to share 140
character long updates with everyone who follows them. You can log into
Twitter on any web browser, or you can send and receive updates through
text messages on a mobile device. Because of the character limit, messages
tend to be in shorthand and often reference short links created on tinyurl.com
or bit.ly. For companies that want to use Twitter to gather followers, here’s
First, don’t use the service only to blast out messages about promotions and
products. Followers will view your messages as spam and will stop following.
While it’s okay to use Twitter to share links to products and special deals, be
sure to spend some time seeing what other users are saying about or to you,
and engage them in conversations about relevant topics. It’s also a good idea
to follow the competition and companies that sell complimentary items. Their
fans will make for great potential customers.
LinkedIn is generally considered the more business/career-focused version of
Facebook (see below). You’re highly unlikely to find photos from last
weekend's bar crawl or pot luck dinner and users log in and update statuses
less frequently. You’ll find more information about educational and
professional backgrounds and users can write recommendations about their
colleagues or other business contacts.
The best way for you to take advantage of LinkedIn is to use it to connect to
potential suppliers and customers through your existing connections. It’s also a
great place to post about job openings or make requests for contractors and
Facebook is quickly becoming a one-stop-shop for a wide array of online tasks.
It’s 300+ million users previously relied on tools like Gmail, Snapfish, message
boards, and blogs to get the same information that’s now available all in one
place. Facebook users are more likely to regularly post status updates, links,
video clips and other media and the platform makes it easy for anyone to
comment on or share information that they find on Facebook or the wider
All this makes Facebook an ideal spot to engage with customers and potential
customers in a variety of different ways. Companies can do this by creating a
Public Profile that represents the brand. One key thing to remember, however,
is that if your brand doesn’t have a lot of awareness, there is very little
reason to for people to become a fan of your public profile. What you’ll be
best served by doing is creating a page that’s purpose is to share useful
information about a topic that relates to your business. So if your company,
Irene’s Custom-Made Handbags, only has a small group of loyal customers,
make your public profile have mass appeal by sharing information about all
sorts of trends and information about custom made purses and other
accessories. If you become the go-to place to find out which independent bag
makers, chances are, you’ll develop a list of followers that will be great to
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