Social media sites allow businesses to branch out
Internet media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace are adding thousands of new users everyday - many of those being business owners looking for a new way to promote their company or product.
“A Facebook business page, also known as a ‘fan page’ is free to create,” said Michelle Cullison, a new media strategist with Daystar Digital Development. “It’s also located in a high traffic Web space, easy to use and comes with a variety of ways to get your message to your audience.”
While both advantages and disadvantages are present within Internet advertising, Cullison says that there are three reasons why a business should begin a Facebook page.
“First of all, a Facebook business presence can increase the ranking of your business on search engines like Google,” she said. “Secondly, the Web site allows your company to publish content where people will actually see it.
“And finally, Facebook pages are built for conversation which leads to relationships and sets the stage for trust. People buy when they trust a person or brand.”
Disadvantages of Facebook include lack of control over users and a sometimes too-casual atmosphere.
“Without strategy, Facebook users may waste time and lack tangible results,” said Cullison. “Also, the culture on Facebook is very casual. At times, it may seem out of step to initiate a professional business conversation.”
Some business to business companies may not benefit from a Facebook presence. For example, law firms that support corporations may not have a need for Facebook, but would benefit from a LinkedIn presence.
In contrast, a business to consumer company like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, or a personal injury law firm would benefit from the masses of people present on Facebook.
“Each social Web site has a unique culture,” added Cullison. “LinkedIn is strictly business and provides a lot of space for companies and professionals to publish details about themselves.
“Its advanced search options can be used for business development opportunities that are second to none.”
In contrast, Twitter, a micro-blogging Web site, limits communication to 140 characters or less and is great for the rapid sharing of information.
“Twitter tends to be easier for information to go viral - to lots of people - in this environment,” noted Cullison. “And MySpace is a more creative culture that lends itself to people in the music and entertainment industry.
“It allows customization of profiles through coding unlike any of the other social sites, allowing thorough self- or brand-expression.”
If you own a business and are interested in joining one of these super-populated media Web sites, there are two questions you must first ask yourself - where is my target market spending their time and what does my business need to accomplish on social networks?
“A personal trainer needs to connect with individuals interested in fitness, so he or she may create a Facebook page and join fitness groups to help promote his own company,” said Cullison.
“Someone in sales who needs to reach CEOs in a geographic area would benefit from LinkedIn, where the title CEO is searchable by zip code. Here the sales person could contact the CEOs using LinkedIn messaging or simply research companies and call the right person.”
The River Region Chamber of Commerce will host a “Lunch & Learn - Getting Started with Twitter” on Aug. 26. Registration is available through the chamber.
On Sept. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the chamber will also host a “Social Media Boot Camp for Business” - a full day of social media training and strategy development. Learn more or register for it online at Daystardigital.net/bootcamp.
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