Social networking is one of the latest buzzwords in the IT industry at the moment, and many people are dabbling with it, and most are failing abysmally.
There are, however, a small number of big successes where companies are seeing a large increase in custom from their social networking activities. So what are they doing right that everyone else is doing wrong?
I think the question should really be "what do they understand that others don't". I say that because the vast majority of businesses dabbling with social networking just think of it as another form of advertising. But it's different. Businesses that just try to advertiser through their social networks usually end up alienating their "fans" or "followers".
People don't like being advertised to, especially online. People take active measures to avoid online adverts by using ad blockers or other filtering software. You need to provide something that they might actually want.
Information and advice usually goes down very well, even if it is actually just a loosely cloaked advert.
People often miss the meaning of the words "social networking". The key is networking, so it's not going to be a quick and easy process. It's going to take a lot of time and you are actually going to have to get involved and get "networking".
The idea is to develop a relationship with your fans and followers rather than just putting your ads out there. You need to try to encourage feedback and conversation. People will quickly "unfollow" you if nothing happens on your page. You need to give them a reason to stay.
Your posts need to be interesting.
Try asking questions too. Request feedback, and ask your fans' opinions.
And of course, if they ask you questions, you should answer them. A lot of people are now starting to use social networking sites to ask questions to companies rather than using email, telephone or contact forms on your website.
But how do you get followers in the first place?
Now that's the 64 million dollar question. Firstly, you need to make sure that your page is active and is being used for networking, not just advertising.
Your page will show up in searches, along with many other companies' pages, so you need to make sure that your page is the one people are interested in.
However, this is unlikely to be a significant source of new fans, especially in the early days.
So, naturally, you should promote your social networking page everywhere that you can; on your website, in emails, on any other advertising.
Next, you need to be proactive about networking elsewhere on the social networking sites, not just on your own page.
This can be the single biggest usage of your time in social networking. There's only so much you can do on your own page, but there's an endless supply of other pages that you can take part on and network on. If you are providing information of value on other pages, you can encourage more fans and followers to your page.
Before you start work on social networking, you should be aware of the immense level of work that can be involved. In fact some companies have full time employees just using social networking websites to try to generate more sales. You should think carefully about whether you can spend much time on social networking.
Because if potential customers stumble upon your meagre, and largely abandoned, attempt at social networking, it can reflect badly on your company. It's really embarrassing when you check out a company's social networking page only to find 3 advert posts from 6 months ago and 2 fans, both of them employees.
OpenGlobal can help with your social networking endeavours so contact us today to enquire about our consultancy options.