To Tweet or Not to Tweet
Social networking has indeed changed the world. Since its introduction, this modern phenomenon, which is also referred to as social media, has provided a new and faster way for people to connect, interact and go about with their daily lives.
Social networking may have started out as a fad, but its massive appeal has transformed it to something even bigger. And today, almost 50% of the world’s IT literate population, under 30 years old, is on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more.
Social networking has affected almost every person in the world in one way or another—good or bad. In fact, many people’s personal lives have changed because of it. Research shows that 1 out of 8 US couples have met through social networking sites. With things like this happening because of social media, the question is, is it only good for personal life? Or are there opportunities that businesses can take advantage of?
Social Media and Business
One of social networking’s strong points is that it gets news across—whatever it is—to millions of people—wherever they are—in real time. Gone are the days when people had to take time to find out about what’s going on in the world. These days, news is fed to people via social networking in minutes! This feature is one of the best opportunities businesses can and should definitely explore and take advantage of.
Another opportunity that social networking presents to businesses is its attractiveness or appeal to people. Aside from having a large proportion of the world’s population on it, studies reveal that social networking sites, especially Facebook, have topped other forms of media such as TV, radio and other popular internet sites like Google. This percentage ensures that business people who invest time and money to market their products and companies in social networking sites are sure to get the exposure and quotas they’re aiming for.
But with so much hype on social networking, many consider that the social media bubble is about to burst. The notion has been formulated by economists who think that all things that reach a peak will soon fall. And with this speculation, business owners ask whether investing in social media is still worth it or not?
Social Media is here to Stay
People might say that the reign of social media will soon end, and although it may be true, businesses should still take the opportunity to use it for marketing purposes because the social networking technology will be here to stay.
Yes, it is possible that Facebook and other popular social networking sites may become obsolete in a few years but it will only be replaced by something much more advanced.
Social networking sites, as the term implies, thrive on people’s natural instinct to socialize, to communicate and to interact with each other. So long as there are people in the world, social media, in whatever form will stay as a powerful tool to reach out, sell and convey a message.
Social Media is Relatively Inexpensive
With the global financial crisis, finding alternative solutions to high costs is essential for businesses to survive. And with that said, another reason why businesses should consider utilizing social networking is because it is inexpensive.
Most social networking sites are free to access by anyone, anywhere in the world. With no financial cost, businesses are able to build a profile in whatever way they want their brand to be introduced and made known to the market. But don’t be fooled. Social networking may be absolutely free, but in order for businesses to excel in this new media, hard work and patience is required.
Social networking makes businesses more vulnerable to the public eye. Just as in the “physical world”, establishing solid customer relationships and providing sincere customer service are important for business growth – they are just as important online. If businesses fail to invest the necessary time and effort in reaching out to their customers – they’re bound to fail in social media, as well.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that businesses that treat their social networking like any other physical networking opportunity are winning work from it. This requires a consistent focus and attention to the network. It will involve participation in the network, communication with other members, responding to posts, joining special interest groups and discussion forums. All things you would do in a physical networking group like a Chamber of Commerce.
Selecting the Right Network for your Business
Obviously, selecting the right social media platform for your business is important. Facebook, although the dominant player in the market, anecdotally appears to be more for Business to Consumer relationships than some other options.
LinkedIn on the other hand is one the larger Professional/Business networking sites and is much more suited to building Business to Business relationships.
Twitter, is a “micro blogging” network that seems to have appeal across both business and social networks. Some of the networks, like LinkedIn, allow you to interact with other social media like blogs, Twitter, etc such that a posting on your blog can automatically feed to LinkedIn which can then on feed a comment to your Twitter account. In this way, one activity can service multiple contact points and networks.
Choose the network that suits your business and concentrate your effort on this. This should give you a greater return for effort than spreading yourself too thin.
Countering the dangers of Social Media for Business
Like all things, social networking also has its disadvantages. One of the dangers of social media for businesses is also one of its strongest points—social networking delivers news, good or bad, in an instant. For this reason, businesses should be wary of what they say about their products and be very careful of their actions.
According to some studies, people are prone to believing what they’re friends say more than what they see on advertisements or press releases. A bad company or product reputation will easily spread via social media.
Another thing that business owners should keep an eye out for when investing in social networking sites is the possibility of having copycats. Competition can encourage anyone to do just about anything, and because social media sites are mostly free, it’s easy to copy and create false and rep-destroying profiles against a competitor. Because of this, social networking as a marketing tool is dangerous by itself.
Integration is the Key
Social Media is not the only platform for your marketing – it is one of many. And it should be integrated into traditional media and other marketing strategies such as word of mouth, relationship building and contact programs.
It is crucial for businesses to integrate social media activities with their existing marketing programs because the objective of using social media is to build relationships via an online community, just as much of your other marketing is about interacting with the physical community.
Overall, the advantages of social networking as a business tool outweigh its disadvantages. With larger proportion s of the business community involved in social media in one way or another, it is a strategy that business owners should definitely take advantage of.