Monday, February 15, 2010

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Business

Thank you to Sandra van Statten for this interesting post on the importance of social media in our industries today.

Sandra van Statten is a Virtual Assistant and Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist, based in Cape Town, South Africa, but offering her services world-wide, through her company Virtually Assist. She specialises in setting-up, optimising and maintaining social networking profiles for companies or private individuals. You can network with her by clicking on any of the following links:

Virtually Assist
Linked In


Before we can begin to use Social Media to enhance our business, we need to understand exactly what it is and what we can do with it.

Social Media is the name for a collection of networking channels that you can use to engage with a targeted audience. Some examples of engaging are: talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online.

Some of the most common reasons that businesses actively participate in Social Media are:

• Building their brand visibility and authority;
• Increasing their influence with targeted (or niche) audience;
• Promotion of services or products;
• Link-building and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO);
• Increasing website/blog traffic (thereby increasing leads and list building);
• Gaining insight into community of interest (via surveys and market research)
• Education and raising awareness (e.g. Non-profit organisations).

Before a company begins with a Social Media campaign, a thorough assessment should be carried out to correctly identify their needs, goals, targeted audience etc. A Social Media strategy and action plan can then be drawn up (with specific measurable goals). These can then be monitored (e.g. 200 new subscribers, 5 new clients, 500 new fans, 300 new followers) to see if you are achieving your goals.

I would suggest that every company at the very least, has a company website/blog and also participates in the “Big Three” of Social Networking. Some interesting information and benefits are listed below:

• Facebook

According to Facebook’s stats, there are currently:

- More than 400 million active users;
- More than 50% of these log on to Facebook in any given day;
- More than 3 million active pages on Facebook with 5.3 million fans;
- More than 5 billion pieces of contents (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc) are shared each week.

Can you imagine being able to reach even a fraction of this audience? Well you can, by building a top class Facebook Fanpage where you can promote your company and services, feed fresh relevant content and become the “go to” person for your niche.

• Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blog (you can only post 140 characters at a time – known as a “Tweet”) and it is also known as a “one to many instant messenger” - similar to a big chat room, but you choose who to follow.

You will soon gain followers and connect with a network of other people in your industry or area of interest. You can Tweet about your services, your company, resources, content links, or tips focussed on your area of expertise. This usually generates a lot of website traffic as people are curious by nature and want to learn more about you and your company.

• LinkedIn

According to their website, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 60 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.

This is the place where you can:
- Establish your professional profile;
- Find experts and ideas;
- Build a powerful network of trusted professionals;
- Explore opportunities.

It is important that you build great profiles and branded pages for all your networking sites and each site should have links to the other sites as well as your blog/website. You can even have content feeding from your blog to your Facebook Fanpage and from Twitter to your blog.

Social Media Marketing is a great way to advertise your Company, services and expertise to the world, for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.


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