The Internet is a treasure chest of opportunities for businesses to communicate and connect with their target audience. Social networking is one form of communication on the Internet that can provide businesses with an inexpensive, rich connection to an audience that covers the globe. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as online communities like forums, blogs, and wikis can be useful platforms for strategic marketing.
The Key to Successful Social Networking
Social networks are by definition Internet sites where people can connect in a more relaxed, social atmosphere. There are a few networks for professionals, like LinkedIn, which provide a more formal platform for making business connections and finding information in a wide variety of fields. But the typical networking site is for people to socialize. For businesses, the key to functioning in such an atmosphere is to be human — in other words, connect with people on a personal level and keep advertisements minimal and subtle. In real life, if you walked into a party with a big billboard attached to your chest and refused to speak to anyone about anything other than what the sign is advertising, you would be shunned in a hurry. The same rules of polite social behavior apply to social networks as well. Interacting with members of a social network on a wide variety of interests will gain you and your business more traffic than impersonal ads unrelated to any current discussions.
So how do you sell subtly with social networks? In forums and blog type platforms, adding a link and/or ad to your signature will give your audience information about you and your business without overt advertisements. In sites like Facebook or Twitter where members must create profiles, you can customize the profile to showcase your business, product, or service for any visitor or follower to peruse. Finding topics on social networks that relate to your business can be convenient segues to the introduction of your product or service. Finding people who have similar interests and contacting them in whatever method your specific network allows (making them a friend or following their posts) can be a great way of connecting to a targeted audience. Offering a giveaway relating to your business is certainly an overt advertisement, but human psychology works in your favor — people love to get freebies and feel friendlier toward a business that has given them something for nothing.
The largest drawback to using social networks for marketing and business purposes is the amount of time that is required to successfully reach your target audience. Professionals and businesses must weigh the potential gain from this advertising method against the time it takes to become a member of a social network and build an audience. Even though most social networks are free and the only cost would be Internet connection fees, the time consumed can be a drain on an individual’s or company’s resources. But the only way to discover how much of a drain is to give social networking a try — a successful social network marketing campaign has the potential to net your business a huge, worldwide target audience. This potential makes social networks worth an exploration for any business.
This article was supplied by Michelle O’Leary from Constant Content.
Somewhat related article: Basics of Social Bookmarking