How to get more from social networks
Back to BT Tradespace how to guides
Everybody’s talking about Twitter these days. If it’s not about their business model or lack of; it’s the fact that the site is becoming a primary traffic source. But whatever the conversation, wherever I go, when I come to the small and medium sized business, there’s one question that just won’t go away – ‘What’s in it for me?‘
Truth is, when it comes to social networking, small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) just aren’t sure what they can get out of the phenomenon. We experienced this ourselves when we ran our ‘8 networks to be on’ article in Jan. The comments posted say it all – is social networking a total waste of time for SMEs?
There’s only one word I can come back with to that and that is – ‘No’.
The point is, if you’ve just hopped on the social networking bandwagon, then yes, it’s probably not going to reap the rewards you want from it. But like any strategy you have as a business, it’s about the thought you put into your online strategy that will give you the returns you’re looking for.
So here are some top tips to get better results from social networks.
Have a plan
Social networking can’t be your only strategy when it comes to online. It’s got to be one of the channels you use. “Be selective and don’t just join every new social network out there.” advises Leanne Rinning, bigmouthmedia’s SEO and Online PR expert. “Some networks won’t work for you as well as others, therefore it’s important to distinguish what your aim is of networking, what you want to get out of it and research those social networking platforms out their relevant to your goal.”
Understand the ethos/mission behind the different networks
For example, BT Tradespace is about helping you promote your business, sell online and connect and communicate with your customers. Twitter is about keeping people updated while on the move and each post is limited to 140 characters, Facebook is about personal connections. Getting your business noticed amid conversations of a different nature might be more difficult than if your customers come to a website for a particular purpose. Myspace may not your cup of tea – but it may hold the key to your target audience.
Search for the people you should be speaking to
There are some clever ways of finding suitable people to connect with on social networks. For example, using monitter.com to search for terms that are being talked about on Twitter and are relevant to you and your business. You can also search by location, so if you’re a small business specialising in a local product or service, you can target those individuals that are near to you; Or, you find what other people in your field are using the service for.
The more you give, the more you get
If you went to a party and stuck to the corner, engaged with no one, ate and drank nothing and left – you’d probably be better off at home. The same mind set applies to social networking. “Be committed to the social network that you have signed up to by providing regular updates and information for your – friends / followers etc this keeps it worthwhile for them to keep following you. Plus be active – keep posting updates and snippets of info and join in conversations – replying and such like – this is ‘networking’!” comments Rinning.
Stop talking, start listening
Depending on your goal, there’s a lot of gain from social networking; but it’s not all talk, talk, talk. Listening to what other people are saying whether it’s your customers or people in your industry, it’s all valuable insight that will help you plan and drive your business forward.
Look for opportunities when posting
When posting comments and talking in the community – keep it relevant to what people are talking about but also look for opportunities to link back to your blog or website to try and drive traffic that way.
Social networking? Time consuming? Damn right it is. So before you embark on the journey, make sure you have the support you need to keep your profile and presence alive and up to date. This could be you managing your time and dedicating one hour a week to it, hiring your neighbour’s teenage son, or paying a small cost for someone to take it on for you. But time is money. No time equals no money on social networks.
Seeing the benefit and return on social networking takes time. It’s not a channel for instant success. If you put in the time, effort and thought behind your strategy – you’ll be a social networking success.
We talked to Business Networking Strategist, Andy Lopata on what his thoughts were on social networking on and offline. Watch the video to hear what he has to say!
This entry was posted by Bian Salins on 6 Mar 2009 at 07:33 and is filed under Newsletter articles, Promoting your Tradespace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Previous post: 25% credit back on IT Support Manager!
Next post: Why online is crucial for business
Comments are closed.