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Social media is a toddler, apparently...

Posted by Ed on 4 October 2010 | 0 Comments

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According to this [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11450923/]great bbc article[/url], businesses are slow to react to, don't understand or underestimate the power of social networking and media.

According to the article, a leading retailer heard about technical issues from journalists who had seen details on twitter! Why should we be suprised. There have been several well publicised outbursts from top [over] rated sportsmen lately about being dropped from teams and other issues with team selections for rugby games being 'leaked' unintentionally by players. Corrie, amongst others, have banned Twitter from sets. Where will it end?

So what does this mean for businesses, especially small businesses looking to use social networking as a marketing tool?

Twitter, FaceBook, YouTUBE and blogs (shall we call them social media tools from now on?) might be 'toddlers' but they are immensely powerful and useful business marketing tools. Used correctly, in a meaningful and structured way, within a marketing strategy, they can be immensely powerful and beneficial to businesses. Used incorrectly or without consideration, they can be an embarrassing and costly waste of time.

So how can we avoid, as small to medium business, getting egg on our social media faces?

The key to using social media correctly is in understanding the media, how it reflects our business, how it communicates to our stakeholders and most specifically how marketing works as a method of communication.

It has been suggested that 'marketeers need to completely change their techniques to make social media work'. i disagree, although it is important to understand how these new areas of communication media are acting as a conduit from businesses to consumers. It is, in essence, no different than the transition in marketing and advertising from newspaper to radio, radio to television and so on. For example, radio became a great new land of prospects for proactive marketing people, but we still spend on newspaper ads. The same is true of FaceBook, Twitter or whichever social media tool takes your fancy. The big change, and advantage, is the removal of the anonymity of a straight ad or marketing channel. Now the customer can bite back. That's where the power lies.

Like all things in this [marketing] business, it's very much a numbers game and it's sometimes difficult to decide on the chicken or the egg? You might have a great writing style and fill your tweets with humorous, insightful comment every 10 minutes, but if you aren't being read, it's just wasting your time. As we said, it's about understanding the media and working out what will work for you.

For example, you might have a new site, so work on building a blog and news rich content to grow the brand and drive up traffic up, then invest time in Twitter to build a buzz and gain a meaningful dialogue with clients and followers,

So you can see that by knowing what your starting point is, understanding the tools that are available and when it is appropriate to introduce new methods of communication, you can get the most from your time and efforts.

More mature or established businesses can use Twitter and other social media tools as hooks on their already busy websites. Moving direct communication with clients from email or chat apps to Twitter will leverage the vogue appeal of Twitter and allow your sales team to keep in touch with clients old and new.

So in summary, don't ditch the ads, email campaigns or SEO. Just take some time to know and understand each new or emerging social media tool and see how it can work for you and your business. As with all marketing, a little imagination, objectivity and time will go a long way. See how other businesses and institutions are introducing these new communication streams to get an idea on what could work for you.

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