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Monday, December 27, 2010

THE NET-TECH REPORT: End of The Year Recap: Social Networking Can Help Your Business Grow in 2011!

The Net-Tech Report with Chris Kauza

What do you think about when you hear "Facebook", "Twitter" or "MySpace"? Do you think it's kids texting each other about what they had to eat and who they saw at the mall?

As I've written about in previous columns, social networking is not just the realm of the bored and the teenaged any more. In fact, it's so easy to get started, that many businesses owners are utilizing social networking platforms to spread the word about their companies and what they have to offer. Which platforms are they going to and why?

1. Interpersonal Social Networking Sites

Over the last few years, sites like MySpace and Facebook are increasingly being utilized by corporations all over the globe, with smaller, locally-focused businesses rapidly doing the same – often times without really understanding what they are doing or why! One of the best ways to set up your presence on interpersonal social networking sites like these is to create a fan-based page for your business and then encourage your customers, friends and family members to join your page. As new people join, your content will appear in the status updates and news feeds of their contacts – who, in turn, might "fan" you themselves and before you know it, you are being contacted by people across the globe about your product base!

2. Micro-Blogging with Twitter (and similar sites)

Twitter started out as almost an underground movement that people could use to send text messages to (sometimes) hundreds of people at once—it is called "micro blogging" and the goal is to describe your current situation/mood/thoughts in 140 characters or less. Business owners have been opening up Twitter accounts and sending "tweets" about current specials and sales or company updates to the people who follow them. Getting followers can be tricky and you should target your potential followers carefully. Simply following hundreds of people can get you labeled as a follow spammer and you might get banned. Actively engage people who talk about things that are interesting to you or relevant to your business; that way, you are sure to find common ground and develop stronger rapport with your audience, and increase the likelihood that your message will be heard.

3. Business Oriented Social Networking Sites

Sites like LinkedIn, Yelp and MerchantCircle are built specifically to help people form business contacts in their local and technical fields. LinkedIn is a fantastic way to grow your business network by having one of your contacts "introduce" you to someone else on their contact list and then getting to know them. Yelp and MerchantCircle allows business owners to produce coupons and write blog entries to share business information with followers and "friends." These sites operate on a professional basis, so you are unlikely to accidentally run across unflattering photos of your contacts or accidentally be tagged for quizzes the way you will on interpersonal social networking sites.

Many business owners are embracing social networking technology as a way to show their clients that they understand the current technologies and social movements. A business that cannot grow and adapt with the times will quickly stagnate and fail.

Social media is not a passing fad (remember the Pet Rock???) By embracing social networking technology, business owners can reach potential clients that they would ordinarily not have access through traditional networking methods. Social networking can help your company grow from a struggling small business into a strong and growing company.

For more information, please visit Chris's TNNWC Bio.

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