The Social Networking Trend: What It Means To You

Social sites like Facebook started out as great places to keep track of friends and family, allowing you to share the latest news, gossip, and photos. Inevitably, businesses have been quick to understand the potential of developing a presence on these sites, as a way to create brand awareness. This idea is supported by Google’s trend towards counting Facebook likes and Twitter activity as part of a site’s popularity and authority.

LinkedIn is for people you know. Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.
– Author Unknown – Via socialmediatoday.com & Via Jay Baer, Convince & Convert

Creating Social Marketing Campaigns

Whether you are a small business owner or self-employed, the benefits are immediately obvious; creating social campaigns can generate a great return on investment and give you a viable alternative to search engine marketing methods. Even if you are an employee, there is a strong possibility that more of your duties will involve social networking, so understanding the processes and techniques will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.
– Seth Godin, sethgodin.typepad.com

Instead of making vague statements about using Twitter or Facebook, organizations are now demanding that their marketing departments produce plans incorporating social networking. Companies are investing in software that can track the efficiency of social marketing, seeking a good return on investment.

Social media marketing is largely indirect and based around interaction, similar to the traditional blog and comment method. If you work in customer service, for example, you may well spend more working time replying to comments on your company’s Facebook fan page or sending out Tweets. Interacting with existing and potential customers via social networks is important if your business wants to attract the growing number of Facebook addicts who would rather leave a comment than pick up the phone or open their email.

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.
– Jeff Bezos, CEO at amazon.com

If you believe this a job for the marketing or customer service department, think again. Answering Facebook inquiries is a job that tends to be given to the member of staff who looks least busy. A large number of employers are looking for dedicated social network marketers, and, job advertisements for administrative staff often mention familiarity with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

In the absence of communication among your customers, advertising rules.
– Don Peppers, founding partner of peppersandrogers.com, Peppers & Rogers Group and 1to1 Media

The Growing Social Website Phenomenon

According to Entrepreneur.com, over half of Americans are members of social sites, and they are outspending conventional computer users; $67 per person in the first quarter of the year as opposed to $50, a sum of money that businesses cannot ignore. A good proportion of this from referrals; social site users are likely to take the advice of friends rather than listen to poorly constructed sales copy, in the virtual equivalent of good, old-fashioned word of mouth.

A recent study showed that 59% of consumers trusted the advice of friends on social sites. This makes sense; imagine a user posting a status update “I want to buy a new laptop – what do you advise?” Their friends are more likely to give an unbiased opinion.

Some businesses may feel that this isn’t important to them, as they have products and services that cannot be sold online, so they stick with traditional advertizing, perhaps begrudgingly throwing up a web page or two. However, social networking isn’t necessarily about selling, but creating awareness and promotion by word of mouth.

Social Media marketing is about brands acting, well, social. Which means they need to show up to the party with a nice bottle of wine, if that’s what the party calls for. They need to come ready to have a dialog, and add value to the event.
– John Battelle, Founder & CEO of Federated Media Publishing, battellemedia.com

Social Sites and Human Resources

For HR managers, social networking is becoming an increasingly important aspect of recruitment. Sites such as Linkedin and Ecademy are well known as business networking sites, but they do suffer from the problem of underexposure; people tend to visit and leave. On the social sites, people tend to remain logged in for longer and check notifications more often, so a business can use these sites to create publicity and seek recruits.

You can email the contacts on your business account and ask for referrals and suggestions, or even advertise directly on your business page. On the other side of the coin, if you are looking for work or a new job, social suites are increasingly becoming a great way to find jobs, research a company, and apply.

Many HR resource professionals, especially for larger companies, are setting up dedicated staff pages to help foster a sense of teamwork and unity, allowing employees and managers to interact in a semi-informal environment and create a buzz. News about community initiatives, staff competitions and announcements can help to increase staff morale.

Networking is also important for businesses; many networks have sprung up on Facebook, and checking these sites is a great way to keep track of trade shows, interesting articles, networking prospects, and sales opportunities. For example, many professional organizations Tweet the latest business news.

Social Sites: The Disadvantages

Of course, it is not all plain sailing and social media networks have their concerns, some of which have led to companies banning these sites from the workplace:

  • Loss of employee productivity
  • Leaking information
  • Unprofessional behavior

A company must ensure that work time isn’t wasted on social sites, although they are no worse than any internet surfing during work hours

Companies can insist that their employees are responsible for everything posted on a site, both on their business and personal accounts, and they must be aware that talking badly about the company on their personal account is unacceptable.

An employee should be aware that they represent the company at all times and should avoid actions that could insult fellow coworkers, managers, or business associates.

The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked
are what makes it so powerful
– Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard law professor and Internet expert

Social Sites and Job Hunting

If you are career minded, set up accounts with LinkedIn and other networking sites that help you upload a resume of your abilities, skills, and experience, and hopefully a company will find you. You can also become proactive and seek out the companies hiring on these sites, or use the search functions on sites like Facebook.

Don’t worry; skills are cheap, passion is priceless. If you’re passionate about your content and you know it and do it better than anyone else, even with few formal business skills you have the potential to create a million-dollar business.
– Gary Vaynerchuck, Author of Crush It, garyvaynerchuk.com

Social Sites

The growth of social sites shows little sign of slowing down, and an increasing number of employees and business owners will find that using these sites becomes part of the job. In a huge shift away from the traditional search engines, social websites are the future.

Whoever said that things have to be useful.
– Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and CEO

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