Can social network sites really build sales?
According to Benjamin Dyer, director of product development for ecommerce & EPOs supplier Actinic, it can.
In an article published by Business Zone, Dyer explains that Facebook alone has around 250 million active users, and is growing at a rate of one million users every single day.
Therefore it’s understandable why businesses want to tap into this market, and utilise the power of social networking to reach out both new and existing customers. But how?
According to Dyer, social networking sites not only allow users to communicate with each other, but also to find other like-minded thinkers: “In contrast to traditional communication tools, it’s much easier to expand your network with relevant people, or communities based on mutual interests.”
When considering this as a marketing tool, Dyer brings attention to the fact that demographic research is vital, in order to find out whether or not your customers use social networking, and if so, which sites. There are dozens of sites, among them Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace, FriendFeed, and more.
The next step is to utilise search engines to find people that are talking about you or your company, along with your competitors’ names, or specific product key words.
Dyer adds: “The challenge is to identify the wheat from the chaff and to capture good information in such a way that it benefits your business.”
Once the groundwork has been completed, the next stage is to make contact with potential customers, but Dyer stresses that this must be done with care and attention. “You wouldn’t expect to barge into a normal conversation with blatant advertising, and social networking is no different.”
He suggests that businesses should ‘join the conversation’ in a way that’s smart and polite, by offering practical advice to consumers. This can be responses to questions or complaints about a product or service, a simple suggestion, or perhaps a recommendation based on past experiences.
In fact, where possible, pave the way for recommendations by others – after all, word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best and most trusted forms of marketing.
Dyer adds that web-based social networking offers enormous potential, but businesses must learn to overcome the hurdles associated in order to reap the benefits. In Dyer’s words: “If you engage, sales will follow. If you don’t, your competitors will be making the running.”
If you have a suggestion or past experience of advertising through social network sites, get in touch and leave your comments below.
To find out more about how to keep business booming and make the most of free or low-cost marketing tools, take a look at our article: Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Small Business Booming