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Think Facebook is about stalking your old classmates? Youtube the place to watch funny videos of DJ-ing kittens? Twitter to find out which pub your mates are in?
Then you’re missing a trick. Social media can and does mean business – business for you. Here’s how to make the most of social media in ten simple, economical ways:
- Customer relationships. Social media enables you to talk to your customers as individuals, give them relevant and useful content, and generally take it up a level from the mere transaction. A discount for your latest product; a short video of investment tips; an entertaining blog – they’re all part of developing a stronger bond with your market. Did we mention that they’re all pretty much free, and take very little time to set up?
- Enhance your knowledge. Don’t ask faceless websites – ask real people. And not only that, but real people who know you. Send a message to your networks and watch a myriad of answers, suggestions and recommends roll in. For SMEs, getting recommendations about or help with new technology (especially before you invest, or call the expensive helpline) and also getting personal references for potential partners and suppliers can save a whole load of hassle in the long run.
- Get fast feedback. Gone are the days when you’d spend two weeks gathering enough data via questionnaires and interviews to judge a single aspect of your business. Not sure if your search engine is top form? Want to know if your font looks classy or tacky? Tweet or post the question and within an hour we guarantee you’ll know where you and your business stand through objective, fast, informal and free feedback. (Although depending on your networks, you might get a few non-helpful answers or people getting annoyed if you don’t take their advice. For big decisions and confidentiality, you will want to look at other ways.)
- Be nosey and in the know. Use Twitter trending topics to find out what people are saying, and follow trends using a hashtag. Check out new and growing groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Use blog aggregators to see what others are reading. Look at the most viewed videos on Youtube (you might get to watch your DJ-ing kittens after all.)
- Find resources. Again, you can post or Tweet your requirements and watch the recommendations roll in. LinkedIn has a great recommendations feature. Even Youtube requests can be successful. Just make sure you check all recommendation thoroughly before going ahead.
- Relaxation time. It’s not all work. Use social media for its original purpose and take a break from the rat race. Chat about last night on Facebook. Post photos. Follow your favourite comedian’s Tweets. Play Farmville. Read non-work blogs. Watch DJ-ing kittens.
- Announce it to the world. Where better than on social media? Demand the attention of the masses. That means posting more than once! Don’t forget the big build up – whether a product launch, a new online store, or even a new expert employee.
- Get instant help. When customers post problems or complaints for all to see, it’s amazing how quickly they get a response. Tweet or post your issue. Want to speak to someone? Try livechat instead of a helpline, or email them. Anything’s better than sitting on hold and being passed around departments.
- Survey it. Why not post a poll or a survey? As well as informal opinions, get some more structured ones. Survey monkey, free Facebook polls, Google docs – they’re all at your fingertips. Engage, spark conversation, gather useful qualitiative information like demographics.
- Find experts. Cut through the barriers surrounding very well known people and just Tweet them, respond to their blog or post a question. Make yourself interesting (but not annoying) and regularly pop up and you’re more likely to get noticed and get a response. If you can do something for them – all the better!
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