The Entrepreneur’s Corner
Social media starting points
I am astounded by how many businesses today, both small and large, underutilize social networking sites such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. While these sites get so much traffic, many entrepreneurs, business people and companies feel social networking is not important enough for them to engage in.
While the media hypes the millions of people on these social networks, many small businesses say their focus is on the customer base in their community. Still, the numbers still range in hundreds of thousands.
We have seen clients get customers, grow their business, and even get a quarter of a million dollar investment from a college buddy they haven’t talked to in 20 years!
Here are some significant facts beyond the number of users: the average social user has 195 friends; 77 percent of internet users read blogs; the typical Linkedin user is 41 years of age with $110K income; more than a third of the 190 million Twitter account users access via their mobile phone; the average Facebook user spends more than 7 hours a month on the site, which was the most-visited website in the U.S. last year, beating out Google. (Facts from Nielsen, Quantcast, Tech Crunch and Online Media Gazette)
Did you know 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations?
What does this mean to a business? Your friends and customers are online and engaging. If the best marketing is word-of-mouth, then online social networks are word-of-mouth on steroids.
Here are some simple ways to get started.
1. Start a blog – Blogs are simple to create these days. Blogger, Typepad and Wordpress are popular free sites to start with. Start with tips and how-to’s. Avoid directly selling. If you have good content, readers will comment and engage you.
2. Sign up on Linkedin – Invite your trusted relationships, both past and present. Give recommendations to others, and often your customers and colleagues will reciprocate. This is the online office place. Keep it professional.
3. Create a Facebook Business Page – It is always a good idea to be social here. If Linkedin is the office, then Facebook is more of the backyard BBQ. Mention ties to the community, post relevant articles to your industry, clients and engage your fans. More than any other social network, direct selling is really frown upon. Think of the guy who comes to a BBQ passing out their business card as they introduce themselves.
If all else fails, remember! it’s about building relationships. If you wouldn’t say it offline, you may reconsider about saying it online. How would you conduct yourself at the office, BBQ or convention?
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