Q. When I hear about Web 2.0 or social networking I think about MySpace and YouTube--kids not business. How do they relate to my small business?
A. Many consumers, as well as businesses, use the web to research and make purchase decisions. A big part of their process includes finding out what other like-minded people think or have experienced about products.
Online sharing, where buyers post their opinions, preferences and asking/answering questions with other customers online are commonplace. Your customers are using social networking sites like Facebook, ITToolbox (tech buyers’ community) and Engadget (blog) to interact. Shouldn’t you be part of the conversation?
Q. Does using social networking to market my small business help me get the word out faster, better or cheaper than the ways I use now?
A. I think we can all agree that the primary way people find things today is the Internet. Social networking tools were created to both facilitate conversations and take advantage of the power of the Web. Many small businesses are finding marketing success using social networking tools because they are easy to use, available 24/7 and, most importantly, much less expensive than traditional marketing programs.
Giving customers a conduit to talk tends to create happy customers, and when your happy customers share positive feedback about your products and services, it’s easier for others to see that information and pass it along.
Q. I have a web site. Does my small business really need a blog too?
A. It used to be that having a web site was extremely important. It gave you that much needed presence. Today, a presence is not enough. Customers want more. They want to communicate and on their terms and schedule.
Most businesses can’t afford to have someone waiting for the phone to ring 24 hours a day. A blog gives you a pulpit to talk about your company, products and services help them solve their problems or achieve goals. After all, who is better prepared to talk about your company than you?
And when you start connecting you’re your customers, you get real time information about what the like, dislike and more importantly, what else they might want to buy from you. Imagine, having your customers help you with immediate feedback instead of feedback that was collected by third party focus groups, telephone surveys, or some other traditional approach and then processed over some number of months. So, the short answer is yes you should really have a blog,