Social Networking: Is Your Business Using It Effectively or Just Using It?

Most people have heard Harold Samuel’s 1944 now-famous quote, “Location! Location! Location!” when listing the three most important factors in choosing real estate. Businesses know how important that truism is. If you aren’t located where your customers are, how good your products and services are will never matter. That quotation is just as true today on the Internet as it is the brick-and-mortar world.

Your customers are on the Internet. They look for things. They buy things. You put your business on the Internet with a well-designed website, and you advertise. But your customers aren’t always surfing and searching via search engines. They gather in places, known places and developing places, in the ether world. Your pay-per-click advertising or your organic rankings are improving, but are you creating a presence where your customers are?

Social networking started as its name portrays—gathering places for people to meet, keep in touch with their friends and families. That’s where your business presence must be as well. Your business should be on every social networking site on the Internet—extensions or branches of the business. Easy and cost-effective, internal franchising, if you will, includes not only reaching out to your customers but being easy to find wherever they are.

It matters not whether your customer base comprises individuals or businesses. If you aren’t where they are, you lose business—end of story. Follow them, befriend them, or tag them. Communicate with them and not just ‘to’ them. Build relationships with real contact: Let them identify with not only your product or service but a name and face behind the storefront. Those businesses who post not only sales and discount offers, new product introductions and press releases but also status updates and responses to friends, followers and taggers will find their customer base grow and customer contact lists explode.

After all, people prefer to interact with people—not just “businesses,” which is the core concept behind every social network site on the Internet.

Compose post series for social networking that soften the often-blatant “this is sales material, and we are putting nothing but that out there, so deal with it” interpretation that are irritating many social network users. They didn’t choose to incorporate advertising shown in their interaction, and it’s not well-received by users. Let it be known that your business—that you—are different. Bring the human element to your business profile.

“A Day in the Life” entries can show customers how a retail store employee spends his day—what he does, how long it takes, some of the human-foible “oops” anecdotes and what highlighted the day can endear the employees and the store-slash-business in your customers’ hearts. And where the customer’s heart is, so goes the cash.

Once you get the customers’ hearts and their increasing attention, they will mind less the sales notices, the advertising and the hints to buy from you. You have made yourself electronically human to your corporeal customers.

And they talk about it. They talk about it to each other on those social network sites, in email, on the phone and over coffee or a meal. One person passes along an anecdote, and others laugh. Then those others go look for themselves. And you just extended your customer pool.

If you aren’t using social networking, start now. But if you aren’t using it effectively, why use it at all?

The author of this article is Sara Woods of Coupon Croc, your business’s resource for savings on every expense, including business trips and travel with a Travelodge discount code.

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