Using Social Media to Drive Business


The user profile is generally what distinguishes social networking sites from other social media platforms. It helps set the stage for building relationships with people who share the same interests, activities, or personal contacts, as opposed to primarily disseminating or digesting information feeds. This also means social networks enable companies to invite audiences to get to know its brand in a way that traditional forms of marketing or advertising can’t.


  • Before opening an account and becoming active, it’s important to consider what each site offers and how you can benefit from their resources. Take some time and really analyze what your existing social media strategy is. Figure out which tools are best for your demographic. Without a fully developed plan for your social networking activity, you could end up meandering throughout the sites and wasting a lot of time.
  1. What are the needs of my business? Hopefully, you’re not putting your company name on a social networking account just to send messages back and forth to former high school classmates, so there has to be an incentive. Figure out what your needs are. Are you short-staffed? Is your advertising budget running thin?
  2. What am I using the site for? After you’ve established your needs, consider the primary goal of your social networking strategy. Do you want to recruit employees for a certain department? Do you want to market a new line of products? Do you want to connect to more people in your industry
  3. Whose attention am I trying to get? Okay, so you want to market that new line of products, for example. You still need to know your target audience for that product, and with more than 300 million users on Facebook, you’ll need to narrow your focus.
  4. Which sites do I want to take on? If you have enough staffing power to handle multiple social networking sites, that’s great. If not, it’s important to focus on one or two, or you could spread yourself too thin and fall victim to the ‘gaping void’ perception, where you end up going days without activity. Your followers will notice.
  5. Who’s going to manage my page? Would your social networking activity fall under a current employee’s responsibilities, or do you need to bring on new talent? If you ever find yourself without the staffing resources to manage your page, don’t stick your head in the sand. Find some interns,’ he advises. In many cases, they’ll do it for free.
  6. Who has access to my page? What type of trust level do you have established at your company? Will all of your employees have access to the social network account, or a select few? Take the time to assess the skills and character of those who can log into your page, or you may run into unsavory situations down the road – especially when dealing with former workers.
  7. Who’s going to be the personality of my page? Does your company already have a public representative that usually handles speeches, press, etc.? It may be beneficial to rein in that person as the voice of your social networking site. People buy from other people, not from other companies. In order to solidify trust, pick someone to represent your brand


  • After you’ve answered those questions, you can choose which social networking site, or sites, would best fulfill the requirements of your strategy. Though many of the sites are similar in nature, they can all be categorized by the different purposes they serve. These are the basic types of social networking sites.
  1. ‘Free for all’ social sites: Some sites that fall under this category are Facebook, MySpace, Ning, and Friendster. Each of these sites primarily serves as a nexus of friends and associates who want to socialize. Ning, for example, has become popular for connecting classmates and helping to set up reunions. The profiles are usually personable, inviting, and can be customized with add-ons and apps.
  2. Professional sites: Examples of these include LinkedIn, FastPitch, and Plaxo. The professional site can be utilized as an online professional contact database, or ‘rolodex,’ but it’s also where people go to update employment information about them.
  3. Industry-specific sites: These sites allow you to connect to people who are in your industry. I-Meet, for example, is specifically geared toward event planners, while ResearchGATE is a community for researchers in the science or technology field. Industry sites help you to narrow your search when looking for services, or people with skills in certain fields. You may even want a particular department of your company, such as IT or advertising, to open an account on one of these sites.


  • How to Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Setting Up Your Profile
  1. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Facebook profiles, for example, allow you to include things like hobbies, favorite music, etc. Including tidbits like these can make your page warmer and more personable. Some personal information is valuable, because it may create a bond with a customer.
  2. But not too personal. Don’t be the ‘TMI’ poster boy or girl, (i.e. ‘The wife and I are on our way to have dinner – kids are with the grandparents’). Create another page that’s just yours, sans company activity.
  3. Share photos and videos. Adding multimedia to your page gives flair, and offers customers an exclusive look inside your company. LinkedIn even has an add-on that allows you to post presentations and slideshows.
  4. But no office party snapshots. Though the atmosphere of Facebook is still relatively laid back, you want to maintain the perception that you’re serious about your product and customers. Pictures involving Santa hats and alcohol probably shouldn’t be in your albums.
  5. Set privacy settings. On most of these sites, you can control what people see on your profile, such as pictures and blog posts, and you can even limit what other people post. Depending on the nature of your company, you should consider these restrictions. Are there any embarrassing pictures of you floating around that you might not want linked to your page?
  6. But don’t be a blank slate. Imagine coming across the profile of one your favorite brands, and all that’s there is a picture and headquarters location. A little disheartening, right? If and when you do enact some privacy settings, try to keep the page lively.


  • ‘Fan’ features your company should be using:
  1. Comment on other users’ content or profile posts. By responding to what your followers post to your profile, you show them that you appreciate their interaction. If they know they have your attention, they’ll keep coming back
  2. Ask questions on your wall. Facebook users love to be heard. It can be surprising how many responses one question can elicit. It starts to snowball. What you’ll find is that the conversation will branch off and start another one.
  3. Posting links or threads. One thing fan pages lets you do that Web pages don’t is encourage viral spread. If you have any content that you want to circulate quickly, the fan page is the perfect tool.
  4. Posting relevant events. By posting upcoming events your company may be part of or hosting, you can help drive more attendees to the function. And for those who can’t come, they get a glimpse at how active your business is within the community or industry.


  • Remember, it’s called a social network, not a ‘business network.’ Coming off as a pushy or shrewd salesperson peddling a product could scare away your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. Remember to be genuine and personal.
  1. Make it benefit-based. Make the customer feel that they need to participate in the promotion. Is the product or feature available for a limited time? Are you offering exclusively to your followers on a particular network?
  2. Talk about new or uncommon features. Even if you have a relatively popular product, there may be some things consumers don’t know about it. What are some new or different ways it can be used?
  3. Include some discounts and savings. Offering discounts on products is usually a shoe-in to grab customers’ attention. Krissman, of Outdoor Technology, says he posts promotional codes that users can fill out on the company’s website and get up to 30 percent off a product. Not only does it drive more buyers to your product, but it also brings more followers to your page.


  • Here are the things you shouldn’t do when promoting your company or product through social networking sites:
  1. Don’t continually have sales-related messages. There are other ways to promote besides selling your product. Comment or ask questions about news or topics in your industry. They will easily ignore you or unsubscribe you if you continue to push a sale.
  2. Don’t set up an expectation, and then cheat on it. If you announce to your followers that your purpose is to give advice, don’t turn around and start selling. If you violate that expectation, people are going to get upset and they’re going to leave. Again, make the sale subtle – how can your product help them achieve the advice you’re giving?

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