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.
Using Social Networking to Engage Customers
Using social networking to engage customers
Now that we know the social networking aspects that need to be addressed, we need to understand why using social networking now is so important-and how it will give your organization the competitive edge.
First, a few facts: Over the last eight years, Internet growth has increased 132.5 percent in North America, with over 74 percent of the population now having access to the Internet. And, according to industry tracker comScore, the leading social networking Websites (Bebo, Facebook, Friendster, hi5, MySpace and orkut) added 88 million new visitors in the first half of 2009. People keep coming back as well. For example, 96 percent of online tweens and teens log onto a social network at least weekly.
As you can see, this is a rapidly growing media solution. It’s one that needs to get addressed very quickly by your organization in order to capture the benefits as well as mitigate any potential issues. Moving forward, this is your organization’s opportunity to include social networking in its overall business strategy. This is the time to take part in the online conversation, which will allow your organization to be in touch with its customers in a whole new way-one where they may prefer to connect with you.
Your organization needs to be out there in the online world, using social networking to meet your customers, generate interaction with them and build a community. This new media will allow your organization to move away from talking at your audience to having authentic conversations with them.
Tim Pacileo is a Business and IT Management Consultant at The Board Room Advisors. Tim has 30 years of experience developing and managing a variety of strategic business and IT initiatives. His experience includes IT strategy, architecture design, sourcing, network and telecommunications, IT security, enterprise application selection, implementation and oversight; disaster recovery and business continuity planning, software and hardware evaluation and selection, and infrastructure design, focusing on data center and server consolidation and SANs. Prior to joining The Board Room Advisors, Tim was an Executive Consultant at Compass.
Prior to Compass, Tim was a VP at Gartner, where he established the firm’s Global Data Center practice. Prior to this, he was Global Manager of Client Systems for AEI (a global logistics company), where he had responsibility for all client/server applications development, PC hardware and software standards, hardware and software purchases negotiation, network design and configuration, Internet application development, infrastructure design and security, and a Lotus Notes implementation supporting a global sales team of 300 individuals. Tim’s experience also includes a stint as an IT consultant, specializing in application selection, and network design and implementation for the healthcare and mortgage banking industries. Tim received a Bachelor’s Degree from Central Connecticut University. He attended graduate school at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He can be reached at [email protected].