Selling Successfully Online

Marketing Your Website

Get More From Social Networks

Chances are you’ve probably heard of social network sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Chances are also that you’re on a social network yourself, especially if you consider that social networks are growing around the world at more than 1 million users per day and well over half a billion people already use Facebook. Adoption started predominantly among younger people but the networks are increasingly being used by all segments of society. With a large and growing proportion of internet users’ time spent on social networks, it’s important for anyone hoping to market online to be completely familiar with the opportunities and threats. So, how can merchants use social networking effectively?

The problem for marketers is that Twitter and Facebook are about conversation and interaction. And the numbers are misleading. There is no way to broadcast to all of these users, indeed if there were, it would be entirely counter to the culture.

The way to engage with people is to be interesting and interactive. But doing this implies small scale interactions, and this is where a lot of advice on marketing to social networks falls down. It’s true that you could gain a vast number of followers on Twitter, a vast number of friends on Facebook and possibly huge numbers might join your fan page. But why would they? You might achieve this by producing something that truly goes viral, but by definition only a very small number of people can succeed at this. Very little has a true wow factor, so very little (relatively) gets passed on to friends.

So a lot of rubbish is talked about social network marketing, and much of the guidance means that either it will be cottage industry style and of limited scale, or you are shooting for the moon with a low chance of success.

With all this in mind, here are some tips on building online sales and improving customer relations using social networks.

113 Go With The Flow.

Obviously social network sites give users the ability to communicate with each other and share information, but they also enable users to find like- minded thinkers. In contrast to traditional communication tools, it’s much easier to expand your network with relevant people, or communities based on mutual interests. These communities have brought much more power to individuals. It potentially heralds a major shift from company to consumer. The market you operate in, and maybe your company are going to be the subject of discussion, so it’s good to be involved.

114 Find Your Customers.

The first thing any business needs to do is research. No doubt you already know, but social networking can use up a huge amount of time. Researching the medium takes substantial effort, so make sure it’s concentrated in the right place. Check your demographics and find out if your customers use social networks. If so, which ones? Chances are they are on Facebook, but don’t forget LinkedIn, Twitter or FriendFeed. Next time you’re speaking with a customer, ask what they use.

115 Check Your Availability.

You can check to see if your desired username is still available at dozens of popular Social Networking and Social Bookmarking websites for example foursquare, Digg and delicious using a service like http://namechk.com/

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