Business Brain: Social media groups offer marketers quick feedback at practically no cost
THE power and availability of social media networking is apparent to most businesses whether they are experienced marketers or not.
However, all social media groups are not alike. Each offer direct communication, interaction, collaboration, and an immediacy never before possible.
For those deeply immersed in social media, there is no sympathy or understanding for those who have rejected its pull. Social networking is the way to conduct business and there's no going back.
Users have built long-term relationships (relatively speaking in terms of the explosive speed of electronic communication) with customers, prospects, and colleagues.
Marketers are always thirsty for feedback and tools to engage and motivate sales, and social media has given them this at practically no cost and with unleashed potential.
As organisations and entrepreneurs learn more about the uniqueness of different media sites, taking advantage of each network's abilities is blocked by the age-old problem of time and the need to harness the communication energy.
Whatever the media used, the content must be created, entered, and monitored. Feedback must be culled, processed and applied.
Even though all this is made possible at speeds unthinkably faster than several decades ago, tools to manage this information flow have sprung up and are quickly being taken advantage of.
A king among networking, Twitter, has given marketers what they crave. Twitter's Hootsuite is a dashboard that helps manage the sheer volume of ingoing and outgoing messages for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress, MySpace and Foursquare.
The innovative LinkedIn is the first professional network making networking easier than ever by setting up a profile that "links" its millions of worldwide members with others in the same industry or area of personal interests.
Professionals can focus on particular networks and with its SEO (search engine optimisation) and keywords inserted in profiles, users can easily find other members of interest. URL's can be included to help potential followers and customers to a blog or website.
Blogging not only allows business writers to supply its followers with vital information, it invites replies and comments creating engagement between the blogger and readers.
Blogging has given marketers, as well as creative writers, a "publishing" outlet, and bloggers tend to be generous in linking up with other bloggers. Social bookmarking sites like Digg, SocialMarker, Twitter, or Stumbleupon help drive traffic to blogs.
Nothing says "communication" like the powerhouse Facebook, with its Facebook pages. It has grown up from a college who's who directory to a major big league player in business advertising, marketing and market research.
Even single entrepreneurs and small businesses may have several "Pages" in which to post news, events, coupons, invites, and entice "likes" (or followers). All of these social media sites and networks are basically at no or low cost and remarkably simple to use once you know what you are doing.
What's the catch? Overwhelming information being passed around rapidly (it's called "traffic" for a reason!) and which is generally unfiltered and possibly unsubstantiated.
Users need to be able to focus their attention in specific areas by taking advantage of the social media managers like the ones mentioned above.
Don't think that social media has taken away the role of the traditional marketing professional, however. One of the keys to making social media work for business is the quality and uniqueness of the content being put out there.
Another, is getting the followers, likes, readers, members, etc.
In other words, we still need to engage the customer, entice the potential client, and make the sale. We just have a whole new (and rapidly advancing) method with which to achieve those goals.
Tara Dalrymple is the founder of Busy Lizzie which provides advice on all types of back office outsourcing solutions, including quality social media services.