If you still think social networking isn't 'real' marketing, you may be missing opportunities to make a great impression.
"If you build a social media network and people feel you are providing value to them personally, I guarantee that eventually you will get new business," says Kerry O'Malley, founder of Marketects, a Texas-based industrial marketing communications firm.
O'Malley recommends starting by joining groups on LinkedIn and adding expertise-based comments in ongoing discussions. Be genuine and don't self-promote, she says, to be seen as someone who brings value to the group as a representative of your company. Then try these techniques.
1. Provide expertise and solutions. If you have a Facebook page, use it to offer more than company news. O'Malley suggests linking to articles your engineers have written for trade publications, presentations from conferences or successful applications of your product.
Highlight an employee of the month, give kudos to a loyal vendor, talk about your company's support of a community cause, and post pictures of people in your company doing their jobs. Ask questions and give people the opportunity to share ideas, experience and opinion to create a conversation, says O'Malley.
2. Keep Tweets on brand. Focus your Twitter posts on things that are important to your customers. Over time, persistent and consistent tweeting that is on brand, on topic and useful will strengthen your company's brand recognition and credibility.
3. Listen and respond. On any social network platform, watch the questions your customers and prospects ask, and then answer them. "Monitor conversations for mentions of your company or product, whether good or bad," O'Malley advises. "On Twitter, for example, 'follow' customers daily. Reply to posts with helpful information. If a customer has a problem you can fix, offer to help. If there's a complaint, take care of it. And by all means, if customers say something positive about your company, thank them!"
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