Join the Network! Using Social Websites to Build a Powerful Brand
Social networking websites are a natural tool for small businesses that have not yet reached their goals of building an easily recognized and respected brand. Users invest their time and attention in sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter with one obvious purpose – to elevate their profile – and the site owners focus on providing users with all of the support and tools they need to get noticed in the online community.
Social network success takes time and effort, from account setup through building a following and nurturing online relationships to the point where discussing your business and its offerings becomes a comfortable and natural next step. If you have a few hours to spare on a regular basis, you can make real progress using social networking technology to build your brand and raise your reputation above that of the competition.
Log onto social websites and use them to:
• Build anticipation ahead of the release of a new product and publicize its addition to your current line.
• Create a stir about your business among members of a social networking community.
• Gather feedback from other users about your business as well as opinion about special issues that affect it.
Social Networking sites create an interconnected web of users who pass along information and opinion within their websites and between them, as most users who use accounts on one site are set up on several. Blog sites (Blogger, WordPress), mini blogs such as Twitter, personal sites like Facebook and My Space, media sharing sites (YouTube) and bookmark sharing sites like StumbleUpon and Digg each do their part to create a complete online presence.
Here are some ways to make use of this vast marketing potential to the benefit of your own business.
1. Use blogs to create your own information and opinion center on the web. Create your own, post on others and establish a reputation while getting to know your buying public personally. In addition, blogs offer great SEO benefits and are the foundation of many social networking activities.
2. Use Facebook, MySpace, etc. to locate potential customers by using search features that allow you to separate users by location, interests and preferences.
3. Tout your own achievements by creating online profiles that list your awards, achievements and hard earned credentials.
4. Connect with colleagues to exchange info and advice on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
5. Send potential customers to your website using link strategies. Bookmarking sites are especially friendly to this task, especially if your website hosts a knowledge base or article directory.
6. Use microblogs like Twitter to build a following of users based on common interests. Real time conversational features allow access to users who are willing to connect to you and form conversational relationships that can help promote your business.
Social networking website accounts are mostly free, at least during the setup stage. When you are ready to make use of advanced services, you may need to make a small investment. Take your time, try them out and do a lot of reading at first to get to know how things work and get a feel for the style of communication.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t be too aggressive in the promotion of your business, especially not at first. You might make enemies, or even get banned from the site.
Careful understanding and regular use of Social Networking expand the horizons of your small business and provide low cost methods of developing your business brand and building an online reputation as an industry expert – bringing in more business and greater profits.