How to Incorporate Social Networking into Your Business Strategy

There is a fundamental paradigm shift taking place as people attempt to deal with information overload. As people sift through the vast array of news around them, they are moving away from placing their trust solely in traditional media and are migrating toward social media content created by online communities such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To gain a competitive edge, Knowledge Center contributor Tim Pacileo explains how you can incorporate social networking into your overall business strategy.

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Businesses of all sizes are asking how they can tap into social networking to reach the large and influential audiences that power this new form of media. Businesses need to better understand social networking and its benefits, as well as its potential detriments. Just as quickly as positive news can be disseminated about a new product or lifesaving device, negative news can also be transmitted to the masses.

This is why it's important for your organization to adopt internal policies and procedures about social networking. It's also important to identify those Websites and solutions that can assist your organization in these areas, and integrate them into your overall business and IT strategy.

Five key aspects of social networking

Your organization should take full advantage of social networking to gain a competitive edge. To incorporate social networking into your business strategy, there are five key tasks that your organization needs to do:

Task No. 1: Identify the Internet blogospheres, reputation aggregators, e-communities and social networks for your products or services

Task No. 2: Establish a presence and/or create a Website on each of them

Task No. 3: Leverage conversational online buzz to increase customer awareness about your products or services, and tap news aggregator Websites such as Digg, Mixx, Delicious and Newsvine to share information to reach new customers

Task No. 4: Release video clips, news and pictures through social networking sites to gain brand equity among your competitors and increase consumer awareness

Task No. 5: Invest in the tools and solutions to automate and streamline your e-marketing solutions so that you can effectively reach new customers, as well as mitigate any negative press

To do all of these tasks effectively, you need to have a credible source of information, with a top-down and a peer to peer spokesperson. In the healthcare industry, for example, a doctor or healthcare specialist is the most trusted, top-down spokesperson. And "a person like me" (that is, a person who shares the same interests and/or holds similar beliefs as your customer) is considered the most trusted P2P source.