How to make your business soar on social networks
Although often provoking a Marmite-esque ‘love it or hate it’ reaction, there’s no getting away from the huge buzz that currently surrounds social networking.
It’s hard to pick up a newspaper or listen to a radio show without someone asking you to check their Facebook page or to follow them on Twitter. But is it all hype, or are there genuine business opportunities available?
In this feature we’ll take a look at social networking and in particular the three current favourites. Click below to find out how to put your business on:
We’ll show you the strengths and weaknesses of each, how to best exploit them, and more importantly, how to avoid making embarrassing and possibly costly mistakes.
Getting it right
As a business communication channel, the arguments for social networking are compelling. Where someone might spend only a few minutes flicking through their daily newspaper, or catch an hour of drive-time radio, they’ll often check their social networking sites regularly throughout the day.
This provides businesses with a great opportunity to get their messages across. But it’s not all about marketing: there are other important business uses for social networks, including research, reputation management and protection – even checking the background of potential new employees!
But social networks also bring dangers, one of the greatest being lost productivity. Because of their absorbing nature it’s all too easy for employees to spend ages chatting to friends and family when they should be working.
There’s also a danger of businesses simply getting social media wrong, or using it in a clumsy manner. Take Skittles, for example: the Skittles website features a live Twitter search for its brand, and a peek at its Facebook fan page. This makes it incredibly easy for anyone to deface the company’s website by posting negative comments on the social networks. There is a counter argument, though, that for a brand trying to be ‘cool’ and ‘yoof’ this openness to sabotage actually adds huge credibility.
Knowing your networks
It’s important to understand how the social networks function, not just technically, but also how the ‘community’ operates. Whichever social network you decide to use, always make sure that you’ve made extensive use of it as a normal, Joe Public user before trying to exploit it for business purposes.
Try to discover the often unwritten rules of what users find acceptable, and what would push the boundaries of commercial exploitation too far. This is critically important, but many companies are still getting it wrong.
It’s also important to remember that social networks are opt-in services; you can’t force your communication on to people, they have to want to read your updates. Spout a load of puffed-up self-promoting nonsense and they’ll drop you quicker than a Premiership manager.