April 8, 2010

Social Media Like YOU have never seen

When it comes to branding and visibility, small businesses need to think outside the box. We’ve become a technology savvy society and advertising has reached a new level with the World Wide Web.

Competition for a business to succeed amidst the uphill battle of a recession has encouraged the need for business owners to bring their “A” game in advertising.

A marketing website that is based on user-generated content and participation is often categorized as a “social media” site. Small businesses often use social networking to create a buzz about their company. Promotions and incentives exclusive to your social network fan-base can be a way to develop online loyalty.

“Social media is an integral part of our overall communications strategy,” said Ken Moore, CEO of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce. “It gives us another vehicle to communicate our message to our members. It seems to be especially effective in reaching our many younger supporters such as those participating in our Edmond Young Professionals.”

Social Media sites include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and many others, which require interaction to be effective. Even though each of these sites share a common requirement of user participation, each one is unique.

LinkedIn, for instance, is the world’s largest “professional” network with over 60 million users. It allows users to connect with business-minded professionals to exchange ideas and create forums to discuss a variety of topics in all areas of business.

By forming an online network of your personal connections, you are able to view their networks and possibly gain an introduction to someone you’re interested in meeting. It can then be used to find and fill jobs or seek out new business opportunities.

Facebook is another popular social media platform. Although it has proven to be very effective on a personal level, many businesses are taking advantage of its professional features. Facebook has provided a means for businesses to connect with their clients by posting updates and useful industry information for its “friends” or “fans.”

Businesses can use their Facebook page to post pictures, contact information, sales promotions, industry news, helpful links and more.

Twitter, a mico-blogging social networking site, has been around since 2006. Founder Jack Dorsey created the site to allow communication between small groups of people. It’s a simple way to let users know your “status” or what you’re doing and enable you to quickly spread information with a “retweet” button. Twitter also allows businesses to announce sales, specials and deals 24/7.

In the course of 2009 alone, registered Twitter accounts grew more than 1,500 percent, according to Nielson ratings. Twitter has exploded within the last year and businesses are taking notice.

Edmond’s own Safe and Green Pest Control has embraced the Twitter world and owner Daryl Willmon can attribute some of his new clientele to the site.

“Social networks, Twitter to be specific, is a great way to let people know where you are and what specials your business is currently running,” said Willmon. “I can let the twitterverse know what area of the city I am in. They can shoot me a tweet and get services right then and there.”

Social networks encourage visibility, name recognition and establish brand awareness. Ideally, you would want to incorporate these sites in your print materials and advertising. Without a proper website and advertising, potential customers won’t know how to find you.

If you want your business to be on the cutting edge, join these social networks and get involved. Keep in mind, social media is meant for the masses, whereas the old-school press release was a formal announcement with wordy jargon meant for the news media.

Learn how users are interacting on each of these sites and try to avoid endless self-promotion. Users prefer something useful – a tip on an emerging industry trend or a coupon that saves them money - instead of hearing about how great your company is over and over.

Many business owners find they don’t have the time to keep up with social media trends in addition to their daily operations. They often call on an expert to help them navigate through the jungle of social media. If you need guidance in these emerging trends or want to learn more about how social media can help your business, visit