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Practical uses of Social Media for Business

So you’ve obviously heard of Social Media.  And are probably wondering is it time for you to jump on the Social Media bandwagon to accelerate your business.  As you’ve been hearing all the great things it’s doing for business today.

So is social media REALLY revolutionizing the way we do business?

The answer is yes, as social media makes it easier to connect with people and your network.  Giving a virtual presence, even when those contacts are not involved in your daily routine.  BUT there is a great deal of hype and overblowing on the practical results one can expect.  Especially those whom are slow to adopt technology in their organization and are limited in time.   As not everyone has all the time in the world to be tweeting, twooting and tagging, as well as getting on with managing their daily business.  And in most things in life, you get what you put in.  So here we’ve put together some simple, down to earth and practical benefits on uses of Social Media.

While, there are many social media platforms out there, in this article we’ll be focusing on the big 3 : Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Using LinkedIn to keep in touch with networking contacts

Business is often about Networking.  As the saying goes “Its not what you know, but who you know”.   However the problem with traditional networking is it often takes a great deal of time and effort to keep in touch.  As if you went to a network meeting, you may have exchanged cards with a contact, because you have complimentary businesses which you pass referrals.  Or they could be a potential prospect in the future.  The traditional means of maintaining contact would be making that awkward phone call every once in awhile.  Or  taking the time out to go out for lunch or coffee.  Or  writing an email which doesn’t get responded to.  LinkedIn helps to ease those gaps of keeping in touch.  And one of those key aspects of LinkedIn is the status updates (Which was copied from Facebook).  Which allows your personal network to know what’s new in your professional life.  Your status updates may include interesting projects you’re working or posting enticing links to web material your reading.  And what’s best about these status updates is your personal network can respond to them with short comments and responses.  While some of these status updates may seem mundane, often it facilitates real discussion that is not forced, spontaneous, time efficient and to the point.  Because it’s all the about the little things which help us bond, form connections and strengthen relationships.

Aside from the use of status updates, LinkedIn allows direct private messages to be sent to your network.  Which is similar to how email is used.  And often these private messages have a copy sent to the receivers direct email address.  Additionally your contacts can be organised into different categories such as Suppliers, Referral Partners or Prospects.  This is much easier than maintaing a roladex of new prospects and network partners you meet.  Which you may need their contact once in a blue moon.

LinkedIn also allows you to network with people offline that you wouldn’t otherwise meet in person.  As you are permitted a certain number of anonymous request.  And after your reaching your ceiling, you can be co-introduced through a shared network contact.  Therefore if you are looking to make new contacts which can potentially increase your business;  LinkedIn can allow you to make that connection that you wouldn’t easily be able to make in person.  Which may eventually lead to a face to face relationship or business opportunity.

Finally, Linkedin also allows you to join group forums which you may engage in public discussions with like minded people.  What better way for people to familiarize and get a taste of your professional opinions through a informal group discussion.  However, it’s important to always keep these discussions clean and professional since these forums are public.  And you never want to say something which you may regret later.

Keeping in touch of what people say about your Business with Twitter?

Twitter is becoming a social stratosphere which people write about there most mundane thoughts.  Some of those published thoughts are useless for business purposes, such as  “Bob is eating cornflakes”.  But some of those thoughts might be important to your business.  Since they might include someone mentioning your company name in a positive or negative reference.  With millions of users tweeting on their mobile phones and computers, there is a good chance someone maybe talking about you or your brand.  Good or bad news, it’s better to be aware of that dialogue.  Which you can choose further to engage in that dialogue or passively observe it.  As Twitter can be setup to monitor and notify you anytime someone mentions your name “XYZ company”.  This process can be made even easier using common alert tools like TweetDeck, which give a pop up alert on your PR managers computer everytime “XYZ company” is mentioned on the social melting pot of Twitter.  With the millions of users currently on Twitter(and growing), it’s becoming even more important to be aware of the real time conversation that’s happening on the Internet which may involve you.

By the same principal, you may also be made aware when people mention a certain ASPECT of your business which may require your expertise.  For instance, if you are a plumber in Toronto, you might want to be aware anytime a statement is tweeted which include 3 key words “Looking, Plumber, Toronto”.  As often people may be asking for referals for reputatable professionals via Twitter.  Which you can be alerted and notified of instantly when those given keywords are mentioned.  And then engage with the person requiring your expertise through Twitter or privately off-line through email.  Using Twitter in this method allows you to find prospects you wouldn’t otherwise have, with minimal effort.

Using Facebook as a Content Management System and Entertainment Businesses

Facebook is similar to LinkedIn.  Or rather LinkedIn is similar to Facebook, considering Facebook is the more popular social network.  As well, many features from LinkedIn have been modelled after Facebook.   However, LinkedIn is more popular for professional use since it seperates business from personal contacts.  As LinkedIn is best thought of “Facebook with a suit and tie“.  However, in some cases Facebook is appropriate for business.  Particularly if you are in a more informal business such as Entertainment.

Facebook has all the benefits mentioned before with LinkedIn such as keeping in touch with network contacts, being introduced to anonymous contacts, status updates and group discussions.  However, with Facebook there is additional benefits such as being able to upload an unlimited amount of pictures.  Whereas LinkedIn only allows one picture per profile to conserve server space.  So some businesses use Facebook as the Content Managed System by placing a Facebook link from their main website.  Allowing them to upload photos of their latest projects and providing news updates on their latest developments

Most importantly, out of all the social networking sites, people tend to visit Facebook more than any other social network.  So there is a greater chance they would actually see the latest updates on your business, by virtue of being more active.

And lets not forget the benefits of Facebook Advertising, which is bringing a new dimension to Internet Advertising by its targetted demographics.  As Facebook advertising is the greatest potential threat to the Google Ads system as it continues to develop in the years to come.  You can read more about the benefits of Facebook Advertising at our previous article archived here.

So are you jumping on this bandwagon or not?

So while it may not be necessary to spend all your invested time, money and effort on Social Networks, it’s important to be aware.  As some of the key benefits offered by Social Networks can’t be found anywhere else.  And it’s best to take baby steps in implementing a plan to action in integrating Social media into your business model.  Social Media helps to connect those microlayers which made traditional communication and networking is a challenge.  As once upon a time, Email was also a foreign practice in most businesses.  But has proven to be effective tool which helps businesses communicate better.  While Social Media does still have a long way to go, it’s here to stay and only will increase in importance as time goes on.

 

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