Socially networked for business

Possessing a website for your business so that it is accessible world over is a good move. But the buck does not stop here. Here is how social networking sites are helping businesses surge ahead…
Being well connected

Very often, during endless hours of surfing the net, one comes across MySpace, Twitter and Facebook and many such social networking sites hosting communities and forums from businesses and companies. What is all this hype about social networking, is what we would wonder. How does it really help a business if it becomes a part of this whole new way of ‘networking’? It is not very complicated and works on the simple principle of building relationships and ‘visibility’. What you see more often, you remember more distinctly. It is that simple.

What is social networking?
Social networking plainly explained, is about connecting. In this ever changing and forever shrinking world it sometimes gets difficult to keep pace with everyone. That is where social networking steps in. It helps you keep yourself abreast with all your friends, family and business partners, i.e. if you are part of the same network on the same social networking site. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Friendster are amongst the many sites that offer its members a chance of connecting to others. All one needs to do is sign up and register and enter the world of virtual connectivity. Social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organisations together. There are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests; there are others that do not. These are referred to as "traditional" social networking websites and have open memberships. This means that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs or views are. Once inside this online community, you can begin to create your own network of friends, family and clients.

Why should a business ‘network’ this way?
A common question business owners ask is ‘why use this media of social networking?’ The answer is quite obvious; it is for ‘visibility’. Social networking web sites are great places to make contacts and establish relationships with future clients or partners. The most common advice to social networkers is; keep it real – be yourself.’ Following this one can be social and show an informal and more relaxed front and this makes it easier for others to approach you and keep in touch. Using a social networking website as a marketing tool is a great move, but with caution. Self promotion is a tempting option but on these sites it is not always advised, the focus should be on building relationships and not promotion. The reason why a retailer should look into using this social media strategy is it makes his/her business accessible to more people. Blogs are another way that business owners can employ to direct more traffic towards their business. Hosting blogs on official websites makes customers curious and interested to discuss your products/services. Such a discussion can also be started on a community or a fan page for the company. Sites like Facebook and Orkut have several communities with followers updating their views and opinions regularly. Twitter hosts brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Dell and Kodak amongst many others. And it is for business as well as for customers that such companies sign themselves up on social networking sites. Several tasks are performed by this form of social media, like informing customers about events, sales or even to promote new products.

The bottom-line after all this is that social networking websites are an extremely useful media tool in the hands of a discerning business owner. To use it to his/her company’s benefit by building contacts is what the retailer’s focus should be, rest as they say will be networked! 


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