How to Expand and Engage you Social Network
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You as a Small business owner and entrepreneur can have a huge online presence if you are looking for ways to grow your business. It is also important to have a large following. This means that a business has to use the most popular social media sites and tools to engage their audience. But it takes more than just signing up and posting information on a site; it requires a business to interact and respond to their online audience. Companies that work this way are seeing the positive results that social media can bring to their company. Utilizing these strategies will bring any type of business (large or small), success.
First, you have to create and expand your online presence. You have to combine your business brand with your online presence. This will clearly define what your product or service is and how unique it is compared to your competitors. Your audience will need to distinguish your brand from the rest, and it has to be consistent throughout the web. Your brand will essentially have a personality that will resonate with your audience, so again, be consistent. When tying your brand to your web presence, make sure it can answer these questions:
· What is your product or service?
· What makes your brand unique?
· Are you a reliable business?
· Can your audience contact you easily?
Second, when using Google or other Internet search engines, make sure you use keywords that are very common and have something to do with what your business does. This step very closely linked with step 1 because you are using keywords that have something to do with your brand. Include content sharing and social bookmarking. With content sharing, you can share whatever is relevant to your business around the web. Friends of friends of friends can pass along whatever content you sent out, which is very powerful marketing. And social bookmarking allows you to share relevant content with like-minded people in your sphere or audience. And in turn, those people will share with other like-minded people in their own social spheres.
Last step, use social networking sites to boost your online presence. Mashable.com has an excellent info graphic that explains in detail (and pictures!) why using social networking sites is extremely important. J.J. McCorvey from Inc. Magazine has some useful questions to ask yourself when starting your social networking strategy:
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
impetus. Figure out what your needs are. Are you short-staffed? Is your
advertising budget running thin?
For the entire article on social networking strategies, refer to Inc. Magazine’s article by J.J. McCorvey. Using these three steps will help your business expand its web presence to an audience that shares the same interests and will be able to pass along content that relevant to them and their social spheres. This has many advantages, for example, you can raise money for a project or idea that people in your audience or social spheres are interested in. This with new social tools like crowd funding, will drastically change the ways businesses operate in the 21st century, refer to Blog 1 with more information that topic.
Now that you have a large following online, the next step is to engage your online audience. It is extremely important to have them interact with your brand. And here are the steps to get them engaged:
· Answer customer responses whether they are good or bad
Responding to negative comments can start productive conversations and even clear up some things that the audience does not understand.
· Use different social media tools
Your audience uses a variety of social media sites and so should you!
· Have your audience take action
Have your audience post pictures or other media. This will help you get some feedback from your audience and they could potentially post something that will engage others to interact.
· Get creative with the social media tools
Think outside the box when creating or distributing content
· TALK TO THEM!
Ask questions or get them to start discussions that are relevant to your business
An example of a start-up business that has utilized social media to expand its business is ZBoards. They are from the University of Southern California, who makes electric long boards. They used Facebook, kickstarter and twitter to gain a huge following. They raised more money than they anticipated from Kickstarter, and continue to meet and partner up with business people and investors. Here is there Facebook page. You can see that they answer all their audience’s questions and continue to keep them interested with contests and such. Hopefully this blog and ZBoard’s success will encourage you to utilize social media!