Recently I’m having the chance to view how a business works with social networks and social media. So I wanted to discuss some of the lessons that I am learning in this experience and what exactly are some of the ways a business can use social networks to help themselves.
The main goal of a social network almost seems to disallow business from interacting on the sites. This is because social networks promote openness that doesn’t come naturally to many business. Also a social network or social media isn’t designed around the selling of a product beyond yourself. However if you substitute your business for a person, social sites can become an important tool for your business.
If you make the goal not so much to sell products or services but rather to engage your customers in your brand that can be an effective tool. The reason is that customers can actively promoting your brand by identifying with the brand and therein the brand gets free advertising to their friends.
Social media is a scary for many business, the idea of both who knows if you could actually make any money off these products or that conversations could develop that you both have no control over and are highly negative and critical.
Two responses to that: One while business should engage in Cost Benefit Analysis, Social Media is a positive for one reason, free advertising. That is essentially what a social media strategy allows you to have as a small to medium scale company. As you gain in size and advertising becomes less necessary, essentially when you become a household name on the scale of Apple or Coca-Cola, social medial allows you to be viewed as open and honest with your customers. This leads into the second response, that social media while you might have negative conversations about your product, those conversations allow you to receive direct and honest feedback from your customers. A business should be always focused on the customer and their experience, if your customers are unhappy, they won’t use or buy your product. Social medial allows you to directly hear those responses, much easier and in more effective ways that say a customer survey can. The main reason for this is that a survey is viewed as first off very stilted and controlled by the company, second writing a comment on a company blog is viewed in the direct opposite light and also feels easier to the consumer.
Not everything in social media will be an direct break even point, it will appear that you lose money on the strategy. The reason for this is that you may not be able to tell which of your customers come from social media sites or use your product because a friend does so. But I would suggest you give a try and see what happens you might be surprised.
This is why I disagree with the idea of putting ads on your personal blog, the blog is a promoting yourself as a person. Unless the ads are used only in a manner to pay for overhead of the blog, ie. hosting costs. Also that is why I don’t think companies should charge for an RSS feed. True people may not visit your site, but they are more likely to keep your company fresh in their mind when as changes occur on your site they hear about it. Rather than if you had to visit a site every day. I would not be interacting with as many sites as I do if I wasn’t subscribed to their RSS feed. It would be way too much work and effort to continually check in with some sites, especially those that don’t update on a very regular schedule (Jonathan Schwartz at Sun) or update constantly (TechCrunch or BoingBoing).