Social media is inarguably the fastest growing marketing frontier in recent times, and definitely a new dimension of business in this era of technology.
Everyone uses it. You send/receive emails and text messages; chat on MSN/Yahoo! Messengers; log on to YouTube, watch a video and express how it sucks, or that you ‘like’ it. Each time you effect something on one of these websites, that’s you engaging in social media practice.
When you register a username and password for a website, they usually collect your email address and store your personal details. After a while you start seeing emails about their product offers, but you don’t feel strange because more than likely you trust them enough to submit your personal information in the first place. By contacting you in such a manner, they are interacting with you socially.
Twitter is popular. At the time of writing, it is the 12th most popular website in the world of about 200 million sites. Facebook reported in June of this year that 750 million people worldwide have Facebook accounts. Do you know anyone without an account?
But what do people really do on Facebook and Twitter anyway? How does it affect your business? What if you could contact people directly, who are interested in your product based on what they are saying online? What if you could amass all the online gossip about you or your business and address immediately to clean up your reputation? Again, why does this matter? These are questions you need to have answered if you are to maximise your business potential and keep up with the trends. As an entrepreneur, you would know that you can’t afford to be left behind.
Social Media Marketing and Management
People — including your customers, and employees too! — use website forums, discussion boards, chat rooms and social media channels to mirror their personal and work lives.
They talk just about anything and everything online. If they visit your business place and leave satisfied or dissatisfied, as soon as they grab the phone or the computer, they either tweet or Facebook it. Some take pics and ‘share’ them. If the pic says something bad and it’s posted to Facebook and gets 250 ‘likes’, that means 250 people are not interested in getting your product. This is further exacerbated by the viral nature of activities on the social networks; thus 250 can be converted into 2,500! It’s just the in thing.
Importance of Your Online Reputation
It’s online, where freedom of speech is on the loose. Many a site will allow practically anyone to sign up and write a review about your business.
If you have a bad reputation, your duty is to catch up with it and correct immediately. If you don’t have a reputation, you are missing out on a huge opportunity that exists on the electronic globe.
Some potential customers do review your reputation online before they run with the thought of using your product or service. The social media community has a very strong influence. Sorry, but this is a resounding fact. In such an environment, your reputation is crucial to your business success.
What’s worse is that some of your own competitors go online and write bad reviews about you in an attempt to sway your potential customers. If you’re not monitoring AND correcting, then it’s a sure thing that your business potential is being eaten away.
Monitoring Your Reputation amp; Identifying Your Market
What if you could capture all the comments about your business on the web? What if you could find all the people online who are searching for your product, or related ones that you could offer? If you should stop to think about it now, you might just drive yourself into a blind alley. That’s because you immediately start to think of how large the web is, and it almost seems impossible that all scandals or commendations about your business can actually be gathered in one place.
As complicated as it might seem, it is a very important aspect of your business that has absolutely no respect for you, your staff or your product.
Simply put, you just have to include it into your plans. It’s a MUST, because the social world influences people’s decisions — whether you like or dislike it, believe or disbelief, or whether you are into the trends or not.
The Brighter Side
Afterall, this is possible. It is possible to capture all of what people say about you on the Internet. It is possible to find out which of your products are being sought and where they are seeking it. Not that it’s easy, but many have spent adequate time to craft comprehensive solutions that will afford you with all you need to achieve/maintain a good reputation on the Internet and to take advantage of opportunities that exist there.
There are tools that will monitor conversations about you in real time and allow for the requisite action to be taken. This is a great opportunity for you to either correct your reputation or get social with your customers, in the case of the positive.
Reporting and Decision Making
Of course, if you want to move forward with any plan, you must analyse what you are doing and make decisions. For you to do this, it’s inevitable that you have access to results.
Whichever service you decide to use, on a regular basis (monthly) you should be provided with both a detailed and a simplified report so that you may see results that will help you to make decisions.
To complement this, you should also be provided with consultancy on how to factor in components of your business and strategise the marketing methods that you use.
How to Access these Tools
As social media is a vibrant area of Internet business, there are (too) many service providers of management and monitoring. However you have to be careful who you chose. It’s a good idea to link up with a business that you have direct access to, or with whom you can communicate very well.
HubSpot is one reputed company that provides such a service. You may also consider LiveSpring Media, a majority Caribbean-based new media company that specialises in this are of marketing.
For more ideas, tips and consultancy, send your questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @DesmondCampbell and stay tuned for social media recipes to elevate your success!