A world where people are more connected and communicating presents numerous opportunities to expand the awareness of your company and your brand. Plenty of businesses are starting to take advantage of these options-and reaping the rewards.
If you are wondering how you can start taking more advantage of social media in your business, take a look at some recent success stories:
IBM, the computer services giant, knew it had a huge opportunity to sell more of its services to the growing financial community in India, but was little known there. To build awareness and relationships and jumpstart the kind of dialogues that lead to sales, IBM India’s CFO, Robert Parker, leverages LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging. Parker is now host to LinkedIn’s largest CFO community and at the top of unpaid search lists for CFO issues in India.
To burnish its position as one of Canada’s leading communications services companies, and develop a lower cost channel of sales leads, TELUS Business Solutions created a website (http://www.telustalksbusiness.com/home.do) where businesses can come together, exchange ideas, and gather expert advice. Visitors to the site quickly qualify themselves in terms of size and interest and then they are off and running. But this quick qualification allows TELUS to deliver a stream of detailed customer profiles to its sales team. TELUS reduced its cost per lead by 30%.
Start-up business Silver Barn Antiques in Columbus, Tex. hadn’t formulated its e-commerce strategy-it didn’t even have a website. Instead it launched its operations while relying on a Twitter account and a blog to connect to suppliers and customers nationwide, jump starting its supply chain and its sales.
In none of these instances was social media the only marketing effort-but in each one, social media accomplished a goal more quickly and efficiently than traditional online or offline marketing.
What’s the right social media tool for your business? As in all things, it depends on your objectives, your target audience and the brand image you want to convey. There are no best practices. But before plunging in, keep the following in mind:
Research your target market to find out what they are doing online. If there are lots of LinkedIn groups, but no one is using them, it’s either a dead end or an opportunity for you to fill the vacuum.
Regardless of what social media you are using-and most likely you will use several-don’t be self-serving. People don’t want to be “sold to,” they want help. Create strong, smart, well thought-out content that adds value to your customers’ lives. Give them information they can us. Think the three I’s: insights, incentives and inspiration.
Finally, remember to keep the conversation going. With social media, you can start and stop at any time. But you can’t start and stop, start and stop. If you do, you are constantly forced to reinvent your community and it’s probably not worth it. Set a schedule of posting and tweeting that works for you. Remember: you are in this for the long haul!!