A survey by Business Network International last year showed that 75% of business owners had been put off other companies by poor use of social media. With social networking revolutionising every aspect of society, businesses need to keep up.
More and more businesses are discovering the benefits of using social networking to open up new opportunities for advertising, marketing and communication towards customers, clients and other businesses.
Building business relationships
A BNI survey showed that 60 percent of business owners had used sites like Twitter to build a successful business relationship resulting in a purchase. But the survey also said that made the mistake of giving up on social media too quickly.
Like any other business relationship, social networking requires time and patience to develop a connection and nurture a successful sale. If you bombard clients with offers and promotions, they'll respond as poorly as if you failed to engage with them at all.
Engaging with customers
An informative and entertaining Facebook page or Twitter account will bring customers straight to your door. But straightforward promotion alone won't attract customers. Posting interesting news stories, photographs and blog posts, for example, will engage your followers and keep them coming back. Investing a little effort will reap big rewards.
Know your customer and focus on the sites they are most likely to use. It's crucial to be responsive: social networking sites are perfect for talking directly to potential customers.
A blog can turn a static description of your business into a vibrant, living diary of your daily operations and show both existing and potential clients exactly what you offer. Blogging establishes professional credibility and shows your expertise in any field, helping to build unrivalled brand awareness, and reader comments open up a two-way dialogue with potential customers.
As with any blog, varied and regular updates are key. Posting original content that changes regularly will boost SEO and help attract visitors to your website.
It's true that personal use of social networking sites by employees can disrupt productivity. But as social networking becomes more and more mainstream, it's better to embrace it than ban it outright. Now it's not just sales staff who can market your business - every employee can help promote your business to friends and family through Facebook or Twitter. Across large businesses it can help build strong relationships between employees who work in different offices, cities or even countries.