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Using Social Networks for Marketing – Part 2

In the second part of this article we are going to look at some of the sites which can be used for marketing via social networks. These are some of the more well known sites, there are literally hundreds of others.

Company Web Site

The company web site is often overlooked as a tool for networking. However, it is often the starting point for existing clients/customers and can direct them to your social networking tools whereby you can then start communicating with them. In addition this is often the point to which you want to ultimately lead people depending on the type of business you are running.

It is also possible to generate communities on your website by allowing people to contribute either through articles or comments. Create discussion boards which allow people to ask questions, give feedback, or even just rant if they feel the need to.

Blogging

The term 'blog' comes from 'web log', it is essential a log, much in same sense as a captain log from sea faring days. It originated as people recording their day to day events, an outlet for expression and new way for starting discussions; and an opportunity for other people to gain insight into the bloggers lives.

This is still the case, but now people are far more selective in their reading. Blogs are now tools for engaging with your clients, suppliers, staff, share holders, etc. An informal way of providing insight into the company, their products, processes, etc. People read blogs to get something from them, so in order to create a blog which generates a following, you need to make sure that the information that is provided is timeous, relevant and interesting. Make sure it does read like an advert or propaganda.

Be prepared to allow people to comment on your blog, be prepared (and welcome) criticism. Remember it is just as easy for someone else to create a blog criticising your product. Rather have the criticism on your blog where you get the opportunity to respond to it.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a community aimed at professionals and is used by people searching for employees, leads, contacts, suppliers, etc. It is geared to more business style networking than social networking, although there is of course a social aspect to it.

LinkedIn focuses on individuals and the relationships between them and allowing people in your contact list to see all your contacts, thereby expanding the the available contacts through one degree of separation. This is useful in that it gives you access to all the contacts of your contacts. However, the reverse is also true, so before accepting a contact, make sure you are comfortable with them having access to all your contacts.

Using this you are able to make contact with people who are potential clients, suppliers, allies, etc.

Facebook

Facebook is now almost the de facto social networking site. Facebook allows you to create company pages on which you share pictures, posts, movies, clips, sound bites, etc. The expectation is there that these will be updated regularly and need to be if you are going to keep people interacting.

Twitter

Twitter has also be referred to as micro blogging, it allows people to post messages of up to 140 characters. This stems from the SMS messages and Twitter actively promotes sending messages from mobile devices. It allows for short messages to be sent quickly and from anywhere. This type of communication lends itself to a community which requires information which is time critical. Updates from sporting events, notifications of open slots at salons/spas/masseurs, etc.

However, people also use it for general updates of what they are doing or feeling. Companies are using Twitter to search for key words and from this get a feel of what people are saying about their brand, event, organisation, etc. This is less a form of interaction as a way of sampling the feeling of the community in real time. This only lends itself to large brand which are likely to see large amounts of tweets about them.

The sites listed above are roughly listed in terms of the degree to which the content is dynamic. Company web sites are not expected to change very often, where at the other extreme a tweet on Twitter may only be relevant for minutes, thereafter it is no longer applicable.

The degree to which you want to interact with your chosen community and the speed at which that communication needs to take place will dictate which solution is best. These solutions are of course not mutually exclusive and it is feasible to make use of all of them to achieve different goals and to communicate with different communities.

If you would like to post comments, please do so below, we welcome all comments.

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