Are you blogging? Are you Tweeting? Are you on facebook?
If you have no idea what more than one of those things are, or how to use them to benefit your business, you’re missing out on what is shaping up to be an online social media revolution.
Online social media is all about interaction with your customers and with potential customers via the Internet.
Blogs, Twitter and facebook are just three social media sites that can help you reach out to potential clients and build your online reputation at the same time.
Getting Started with Blogs
Blogging has become the craze of the 21st century, and there’s no sign of this particular craze going away. Literally hundreds of millions of people have blogs.
With easy-to-start blog sites like blogger.com (run by Google) you can be up and running with a blog without any technical hassles. This particular blog site makes it remarkably easy - setting your background colors and format has been made idiot-proof, and you’ll be blogging very quickly.
Why blog? Blogging allows you to show your expertise, to connect with customers, and cast your name into the large waters of the Internet and be heard, via search engines.
For example, my post on the Abbott PR blog (abbottpr.blogspot.com) about a rather ill-advised General Motors TV ad pushing for a bailout called “Why GM’s “Ripple Effect” PR Video Will Fail” was picked up by Google, and is now the number one search for *“Ripple Effect” video PR* That’s valuable to your business.
Uses of a blog can be to post your thoughts on a trend in your field, to post news releases, to discuss new policies, and to make other announcements.
Tweeting About Yourself
Twitter is a rapidly growing phenomenon and a relative newcomer to the Online world.
The company describes itself as: “privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.”
Basically, you sign up, and begin typing messages - called “tweets” - all of which are limited to 140 characters. The limitation, says the company, inspires creative and thoughtful expression, and so it does.
You can use your computer to tweet, or you can send messages via your cell phone or from your desktop, using various other online services that have sprung up.
Some users never get past posting exactly what they’re doing RIGHT NOW, the original intention and most used purpose of the service.
But getting past the “my cat just rolled over” or “I’m eating” phase is important, and some major business gurus, like Guy Kawasaki (twitter.com/guykawasaki) have Twitter accounts, and use them to promote their books and ink to news stories online that deal with trends in their business or breaking news.
And - as with blogs, the service is a great way to express your expertise in your field, and thus build up your reputation.
Search your profession right now at http://search.twitter.com to find how people in your profession are using this service to do just that.
The social networking aspect of Twitter consists of gathering “followers” on Twitter by becoming “friends” with others, and is an excellent way to expand the reach and knowledge of your company, and yourself.
Gathering facebook Colleagues
Facebook is an excellent example of an online social media network because it is so vast. Over 600,000 NEW users join facebook EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Originally started with college students in mind, high school students and then their parents quickly got facebook pages, too. Finally, businesses have joined the fray, and facebook allows companies large and small to have pages that reach out to a wide variety of demographics. (Advertising opportunities on facebook are also worth looking into.)
Like other services, you can sign onto facebook and create a personal page relatively quickly. Once that’s done, starting a business-related page, posting “notes” (basically blogging) and using the "status update" feature to discuss your business life, as well as your personal life, can
And like Twitter, facebook "friends" can be gathered in your social network, though you should start with friends, colleagues and nearby residents in the real world, then THEIR friends online will join you as well. You can also start or join existing “groups” that promote your products or your profession.
From this very brief introduction, you can begin to see that the opportunities for self-promotion and reputation building are indeed huge online.
These new social networking sites are new and exciting ways of expanding your reach beyond the four walls of your business, and for spreading the word about your own expertise and services to the virtual Internet Community that’s becoming commonplace in the 21st Century.
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