Market Slowdown Firms find Customers via Social Networking
The economic downturn has caused increasing numbers of businesses to use social networking websites as a low–cost way of reaching potential customers, according to business networking website Ecademy.
Penny Power, founder of the website, said membership of Ecademy has doubled in the last year. According to Power, online networking sites offer an economical way for businesses to market themselves, and networking is increasingly important for firms wanting to survive the recession.
“It saves resources and it’s a very low–cost method of marketing yourself,” said Power. “Because of the fear of recession, people are thinking of ways to reach new customers as they can’t be sure their clients will stay with them. There are many examples of people recommending other businesses to their clients for other services through the website. They need to network and to create teams around them who are going to support them through the hard times.”
Jan Ibbott, founder of Women In Business Network, agreed that the economic slowdown has encouraged more businesses to use social networking as a cost–effective way of marketing.
“We’ve seen an increase in women social networking over the last year – our membership has increased by 25 %, it’s a low–cost method for women to advertise their business.”
According to Simon Dickson, principle consultant at IT consultancy Puffbox, more small firms are waking up to the benefits of social networking websites.
“It’s a good way for them to build credibility and get their firm known. If times are tight and marketing budgets are stretched, it’s a very useful way to find new customers, as you very rarely have to pay for it.”
Roger Poultney, founder of Eagle Intermedia Publishing Ltd, said business social networking websites can help small firms reach customers they might otherwise struggle to identify.
“Business social networking sites are useful because they allow small businesses to interact directly with their customers and potential customers, especially if they are selling niche products and services which may be difficult to sell.”
“Just as real world networking can be an important means of establishing contacts and raising general awareness, online networking could help bring in benefits in terms of direct referrals, as well as boosting company website traffic via embedded links.”