Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Social Networking and Your Small Business

This month my goal is to see 100 new fans to our Facebook and I would love to see the same come to read the blog.  The hopes are that I will find the people through the social networking site and then direct them to this informative blog.  So far my results have been average if not poor.  I personally do not have a big social network and my company catters to none of the people on my personal friends list so I am depending upon my friends and their friends to help pass my information along.  It’s not really any different then we have done it in the past.  If you like a business you are going to tell your friends. Here in our socially connected internet world, people are connected to each other faster so the idea is the word will move further, faster.   At least this is my opinion on how it should work.  For today’s blog let’s examine what Forbes and some others have to say about this new trend of social networking/marketing.

This following section comes from a 2009 Forbes report on social networking:

The article was named “social networking a cheat sheet”  So it’s worth a read. 

Next to mobility and cloud computing, social networking was the talk of Interop this year--especially at a conference session devoted to social software tools and a portion of the Unconference, where real SMB users talked about how to make the most of it.

But perhaps the best thing I learned about social media came in a meeting with security vendor ESET. Just as at a recentIntuit ( INTU - news - people ) town hall where I discovered Social NOT-working, at Interop, ESET director of marketing Liz Fraumann shared the abbreviation for Social Media as "So Me." Perfect, isn't it?

Anyway, Social Software Tools: A Critical Evaluation offered useful insight into the choices SMBs need to make when moving into social networking. Tony Byrne, founder of CMS Watch, started with a useful breakdown of the complex world of social networking, beginning with separating external and internal applications, depending on whether the connections occur inside or outside your company:

--Information organization/filtering

--Knowledgebase management (collaboration)

--Communities of practice

--Enterprise networking (intranets and/or Facebook groups for employees); vendors include Ning and Lithium

Of course, where social networking takes place is only the first part of the puzzle. The networking itself can take many forms:

Social Networking Functions

--Blogs; vendors include Six Apart, Google's ( GOOG - news -people ) Blogger and Automattic's WordPress

--Microblogs (Twitter)

--Wikis; vendors include MediaWiki (the foundation of Wikipedia), Atlassian, MindTouch and Socialtext)

--Project tracking/participation software

--Multimedia (video/audio, internal or external, including YouTube)

--Information ranking/filtering--voting

--Discussion forums

--Presence/instant messaging (IM)

--Public social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and MySpace

Each of these functional applications has its own uses, strengths and weaknesses.

In Pictures: 30 Social Networking Terms You Should Know

See Also: Is yours one of America's Most Promising Companies? Take our survey and find out.

Blogs, for example, are fast and simple to create, easily findable via RSS, and can promote ongoing conversations with readers. On the other hand, they're unorganized, hard to keep up over time and easily spammed.

Microblogs like Twitter (or business versions like Yammer) are useful for quick customer support, a bit of marketing, listening to customers and link sharing, Byrne says. But Byrne challenged the conventional wisdom, saying Twitter is not good for having a discussion. He likened Twitter discussions to trying to have a long-distance conversation at a crowded football game from one section to another while shouting over everyone else's conversations.

Wikis, meanwhile, offer extraordinary power; make it possible for everyone to read, edit and review postings; and facilitate bottom-up communications. But wikis also are hard to organize, offer limited display/navigation options, and may require some training to maximize their value. In addition, wikis lack a controlling voice, making them dependent on the wisdom of crowds. That's why Byrne suggests designating a wiki gardener or steward to help keep things clear and on track.

And don't forget the old-school choice: discussion forums. Often disparaged in comparison to fancy new alternatives, forums remain popular and powerful. They're perfect for "many-to-many communications," Byrne says, and can be structured hierarchically. But while forums are a great solution for Q&A sessions, they're not well suited for multiple people trying to edit the same text.

Public networks like Facebook and LinkedIn can be used for marketing, recruitment, prospecting and brand enhancement. But you don't own the network or the content, Byrne points out, and companies must accept that fact to be successful.

There's not one best choice, Byrne says. The point is to find the right fit for your particular application, budget, location, etc. In addition, you can use multiple tools for a single purpose or multiple purposes.


This next articl talks about 5 Ways Small Businesses can benifit from social networking and if you’ve taken a marketing class most of this should make total sense to you.  This was written by David Wallace and a link is found below.

1. Branding Opportunities
In the same manner that it is important for companies to make sure they have all the various domain names that relate to their brand (.com, .net. .org, etc.), it is now becoming important for companies to make sure they secure their brand on social media sites - at least the popular ones. I wrote about this subject at the beginning of this year and made the following statement:

With all the social networking sites popping up everywhere, the idea of branding comes to mind. Sure there is the thought of how web sites can draw traffic from social networking sites, even sell product or services but in addition to that, what about protecting your brand before someone else beats you to it? This is especially important with respect to user names and unique URLs.

It was important back then and is even more important now. Typical with most social media sites, once you create a profile, you have a unique URL where you can access that profile. That URL, if you set it up correctly, will include your brand name (i.e. www.linkedin.com/in/searchrank, www.flickr.com/people/searchrank, etc.). The brand name is also used in the title tag of your profile. Why is this important? As I wrote in my last piece on social media, having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites may help you to have better control over the first three pages of search results for your unique brand name. It also may help users of specific social media sites to find your company if they are actually looking for your brand. Finally, you keep competitors from sitting on your brand and/or people that may misrepresent your brand as I have seen in many cases.

2. Build Link Popularity
Websites essentially need three things if they are to experience good visibility in the search engines - 1.) good content, 2.) good SEO and 3.) good links. There are two ways to get links from other sites - naturally or pay (or beg) for them. Buying them is the easiest but due to Google's recent declaration of war on paid links, they can fall prey to their big guns. So, natural is and always has been the best.

One way to obtain natural links is to link back to your original web site within the social media sites you set up. Many social media sites will allow you to include a blurb about yourself or your company and in many cases, add a link or links to your sites. Once you get these various social media profiles indexed, they will count as inbound links to your main site. You may even find it useful to include specific anchor text related to keyword phrases you wish to target and point them to pages that have been optimized for those same terms. The bottom line is that social media profiles create opportunities for natural links. Best of all, they're free!

3. Attracting Traffic
Depending on the industry you are in, social media and networking sites can send quality traffic to your site. In one example, music and entertainment entities are successfully using MySpace to attract its millions of users. How many times have you seen movie URLs that are located on the myspace.com domain? Now if you manufacture and sell contemporary furniture, then you may not benefit much from MySpace traffic seeing its demographic is mostly comprised of youth but you may draw traffic from a photo sharing site like Flickr.
In another example, many companies are using YouTube to attract and drive traffic to their web site.BlendTec is a good case study of this with their "Will It Blend" videos, a series of short videos where they blend everything from golf balls to credit cards to even an iPhone in their industrial strength blenders. People just love to see stuff demolished and the videos have brought much attention to a blending product that many were unaware of prior to seeing the videos.

These are just a couple of many examples of how companies are utilizing social media to drive traffic to their sites. A good strategy is to select sites that are somehow specific to your industry and then let the creative juices flow. The bottom line is that just like millions of people are using search engines everyday, millions of people are using social media and networking sites as well. Creative marketers will discover ways to tap into these users in order to drive additional traffic to their web sites.

4. Interaction With the Public
The reason why it is called "social" is because it allows web users to socialize or interact with each other. This has been one of the biggest fears keeping small to medium sized business from embracing social media - the transition from "talking to" customers to "interacting with" customers. SMBs may be afraid that someone is going to talk about their businesses and it may not always be favorable. If this is your fear then I have news for you -  consumers are already talking so you might as well join the conversation.
Having the ability to interact with consumers is not just about dealing with bad mojo but also taking advantage of social media to bring further attention to products, services, company news or even put a personal face on the company. I reveal personal things all the time about myself and my company and have received numerous compliments from clients stating that they feel more comfortable doing business with us due to the fact that they now know something personal about us.

5. Networking Opportunities
A final reason how SMBs can benefit from social media is the networking opportunities. Trying to be the lone ranger of your industry is not always the most productive way of running your business. Personally, I have discovered many benefits from networking with others in my industry and getting well connected. Many social networking mediums offer opportunities to join specific groups of interest where you can then interact with like-minded people. Facebook is a great example of this - not only can you join groups, you can create new ones, add events and even build interactive applications that run within the Facebook environment.
For me, many of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, have allowed me to develop numerous relationships which are not only beneficial in day to day operations, but especially rewarding when attending industry conferences. The conference becomes more like a family reunion than a boring, uninvolved trade show.

This is a great article that continues on and you can read the whole thing at http://www.searchengineguide.com/david-wallace/5-ways-small-business-can-benefit-from-s.php


So with all of this great information you are now armed to go out and social market your local small business.  Good luck to you and please let me know how it works for you.  I have a plan this year of trying to uyse the social networking to it’s most *(for free) and get as many new readers to our blog, therefore to my website and hopefully into my business.  Please write and let me know how it is working for you.

Remember, Simply Seniors Computer Tutors are here for you 321-431-3866

1 comment:

  1. The popularity of online media has grown in leaps and bounds. Not only facilitating as a medium of interaction and interpersonal communication, online media are now serving as a platform for the small and medium scale enterprises to promote their business and enhance the brand visibility in the online periphery.

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