Business owners have quite a bit to gain from the social media revolution, and quite a bit to learn from those who have managed to use the new technology to great advantage. There are several key pointers illustrated in a recent discussion on the American Express website OpenForum.com that help demonstrate how companies can make tools like Facebook and Twitter work for them. First among these is the need to interact in your own voice. It's important to be conversational in the way you speak, write and share information. Marketing and/or legal language won't cut it in the realm of social media.
Listening and responding properly are also essential. And when it comes to responding, the more often you do it, the better your reputation will become. But also, be proactive. With social media, commenting and sharing content should not be merely reactions. Find things relevant and interesting to share, and don't always be concerned about it being directly related to your business. Ask open-ended questions, this is a great way to invite interaction. Inviting your customers to answer questions will greatly increase the level of engagement.
It's recommended and always helpful to connect with like-minded people, as this is one of the benefits of social media. Sites like Facebook and Ning allow for the creation of instant online communities. Still, it's recommended as well that you accompany online with offline interaction. Meeting people in person will always be a crucial element to doing business in the long term, so make sure to take advantage of opportunities to connect with those with whom you interact online. There's something to be said for good karma when it comes to social networking. Doing things to help others, sharing information, and being generally open will eventually pay off for you when others are willing to do the same.
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