In this article I’m going to focus on social networking for business, and although I’ll talk about the likes of Facebook and Twitter the same general ideas will apply to other social networks.
My motivation for this article comes from the approach I find many businesses taking with their journey on Facebook. I’m not going to detail how to get on to social networking sites, but I will cover how you should approach social networking and what you should be thinking about.
Going Beyond the Hype
First and foremost to get the most out of social networking sites you need to get beyond the hype and start experimenting. Jumping in because “everyones doing it” is a sure recipe for disappointment. If you do not understand the key differences and user demographics between the popular social networking sites this should be your starting point. For example Facebook is a forum for people to connect, engage and share information with one another, while Twitter is more about the being on the pulse and sharing information immediately. Linked In on the other hand is a forum for building professional relationships.
It is also important to understand the time frames that social networking sites keep and how this affects the relevance of information. Information on Facebook that is any more than a few days old is stale. While for Twitter, anything more than a few hours is history.
Have a Goal
So going beyond the hype, what do you hope to get out of social networks? It is publicity, more sales or perhaps as a means to seek out new recruits. Having a focus will help develop your strategy and monitor the success of your social networking venture.
How you post information and portray your business personality is also crucial and will influence your success. It’s imperial that you remember that these are social sites where information in shared social contexts. If you blatantly post sales ads you’ll drive people away quickly. Some sites, notably LinkedIn, prohibit direct marketing.
I really cannot stress this one enough – you need someone to maintain your online presence and personality, and that person needs to be someone who understands and uses social networks. This will also help ensure your posts and personally remain in line with what is generally accepted by social network users.
With respect to maintenance, plan to have your social network presence monitored and updated daily. Allocate no less than 30 minutes to begin with. Social networkers’ will expect rapid turnaround of their questions and they will associate an active and informative presence as being more valuable.
Failure to respond to questions in a timely fashion or not having any activity for several days at a time will see people leave or bypass your business quickly.
Starting a business presence on a social network must go beyond the hype. Understanding these sites, how they are used and having the right people maintain your presence are all crucial to success even before you post your first piece of information.
If you have any questions regarding this article or a suggestion for a future IT article, please let me know.