Before there was the the internet, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter and other social networks were not available. Business people had to rely on things called personal organizer wallets, devices to store business contact information, and standard market research practices. Contact management was a chore, and generating new leads was arduous. It was a dark time, but those in the business world managed to get through it.
The business world began to see some relief to their challenges when the internet arrived. After a short while, the internet introduced social networking to the business world, and things really began to change. Applications like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs arrived on the scene, ready to take on business challenges and make them manageable and fun.
The web hosts hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Social networking sites, many of which are free, draw millions of those users in, providing a space to share information, get questions answered and, most prominently, communicate. While social networking sites were originally developed as a means for people to communicate with friends and acquaintances, as well as make new friends, businesses have figured out how to tap into their potential. Given the broad-reaching potential social networking sites have, it is no wonder businesses are quickly learning how to use them to disseminate information about their companies, generate new contacts and open communication between customers and businesses.
Spreading the Word
Businesses are also using social networking applications as tools to share information about themselves and their product offerings. When they create a profile page using a site like Facebook or MySpace, businesses are capable of detailing their products, providing customers with contact information and potentially posting photos of their employees involved in various activities, all of which personalize their business.
Getting Fans and New Business
When businesses create profile pages on social networking sites, they offer customers a way to become engaged and connected to the business. Social networking users have the option to become friends, make connections, or become fans of a business, depending on which application they choose. By establishing these connections with users, businesses are able to provide more information to those users, as well connect with the users’ connections. Like a rock thrown in the water, there is a ripple effect that spreads further and further as more users connect. As more people are drawn in, the potential for drawing more business is greatly heightened.
Social networking sites present businesses with many opportunities to market their products and perform market research. Companies can review network profiles to review the likes, interests and expressed needs of their customer base. They can also use this information to determine how their friends’ or fans’ profile characteristics fit into their marketing targets. In addition, some companies are finding fun ways to advertise, such as allowing users to send virtual gifts connected to the companies’ product offerings. Social networking allows companies to spread the word about themselves at little or no cost.
Social networking applications are, by nature, communication platforms. By using applications like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, businesses can communicate directly with their customers. They can obtain feedback and ideas, monitor conversations about their businesses and let their customers know that they are genuinely interested in them. Communicating is one of the key means for establishing strong customer relationships.
If utilized and kept current, social networking applications can greatly aide how businesses access their customers, market their products and allow businesses to establish essential customer relationships. As a business tool, social networking applications have great potential, changing the way many businesses opera.