Business social networking has become the fastest, easiest, and most profitable way to enhance a business’s marketing in today’s economy.
Internet marketing is only part of a marketing campaign; print, radio, cell phones, promotional items, all still have their place, but have certainly lost market share. (I know, like you didn’t already know this. :-p)
So what do we do? What are our options? How do we know where we should and shouldn’t invest our time? The most popular business social networking sites are Linkedin and Plaxo, but social networking as a whole can be used for business regardless of the platform.
Think of each social networking site from the business perspective that this is the largest networking event you have ever attended and what is even better than that is every person there is an ideal referral partner for you! The internet has provided us the most sophisticated tools to build relationships and target market. Surprise! Relationships come first. The way people make buying decisions has changed.
We have gone to a “push marketing,” which is really just interruptive marketing mainly done through commercials to a much easier, less expensive, and more profitable way. In your business social networking and through your website you have the opportunity to position yourself in front of the people who are looking for your service already. This is called “pull marketing.” Drawing ideal customers and partners to you through strategic planning may not seem as easy as it sounds, but it tightens the real competition out there.
Through each business the social networking strategy is going to be different, that is actually a big factor of why it works, but everyone must provide a different experience. If there were a cookie cutter social networking business plan everyone would be making a killing online. Rest assured that is definitely not the case.
Just because you set up a profile on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and started blogging doesn’t mean any of that is going to translate into anything at all. If you are a newbie focus on one thing at a time, understand the functions of each tool, identify other campaigns out there you like that are working and see how they differentiate themselves. Then you can begin to piece together an explosive marketing plan. You opportunity to engage users, add value, prompt action, and ADD VALUE must be alive in your messages at all times. Adding value is the key when using social networking for business.
By becoming a valued resource you are positioning yourself as an authority in your field. Linkedin, the largest business social network, notices this when people answer questions that others post. The user gets an opportunity to rate the “experts” answer and the “expert” over time gets higher and higher ratings based on the quality of their response.
Here is just a snap shot of how I use two social networks in my business:
It all starts with relationships, but each network has its own unique ways of filtering people out and identifying who I really want to build a relationship with.
-Facebook- I use to identify centers of influence in different cities. I want to know: Who is running networking events and internet marketing training events for businesses? Who are attending these events? Who manages businesses social networking presence?
These are three key questions I ask when identifying someone I want to connect with on Facebook.
-Linkedin- I want to identify other professional speakers, social media business managers, and those running events.
Once these I have identified these people I go and learn as much about them as possible so I can intelligently make a connection and build a relationship. (I know, crazy stuff right?!?) Does this really sound any different than what you would do at a typical live networking event?
There you have it, you are doing “business social networking” every day you go out to market your business, just use those same in person principles online and offline!