Many companies today offer remote workspace options, promote social media connectivity and rely heavily on the conveniences of technology. From instant barista machines to video conferencing, grinding out the eight plus hours a day no longer requires landline phones, typewriters or snail mail. The water cooler has been replaced by instant messaging or inter-office “pings,” email has rendered the postal service obsolete and the World Wide Web has created a virtual world more efficient and user-friendly than the real world.
Perhaps the most important addition to the business world has been the introduction of social media tools. Over the past decade, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs have transformed the way businesses do business. These social media platforms along with the other similar options that exist are able to extend the reach of any business, large or small. Small companies are not confined to their zip code anymore. Instead, they are able to create touch points with prospective customers throughout the world.
Facebook with its 500 million users is the number one social media network. What originally began as a means to communicate across Harvard Yard has turned into a booming mecca for marketing, promoting and connecting in the name of business. Facebook created Fan Pages to allow companies to “set up shop” in an environment where customers are plentiful.
Twitter enjoys a user base of 190 million with those individuals tweeting on average 65 million times a day. Initially believed to be a forum for people to talk about what they ate for lunch, Twitter has since become a useful tool for handling customer service complaints to providing news at break-neck speed. For a small business owner, Twitter provides a breadth of information from contacts to useful industry information. Direct messages allow for personalized communication and the opportunity to generate deeper connections.
LinkedIn has always positioned itself as the business-centric social media platform. Through this medium, everyone from CEOs to administrative assistants is able to connect in a professional environment. The opportunity to find new business associates, prospects or employees is made easily available through in messaging, connections and a variety of interest groups.
The blog was the predecessor to the rest of the social media platforms. Since its inception, individuals and businesses alike have used it to effectively communicate with the masses. In fact, 71% of all respondents who maintain blogs for a business – their own or one they work for – report that they have increased visibility within their industries through their blogs.
For many small businesses, creating an account on a social media site is easy. However they will not reap the benefits if they do not commit to utilizing those accounts. To see success on these online networks it is essential to do more than just build it and hope that followers will come. Another important facet in creating a powerful presence in the social networking realm is to stand out. Many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon, but those who are thinking outside the box are gaining the most ground. Think about developing a unique fan page that is branded to match your current website and tie in a social media strategy that is represented across all of the platforms. I encourage you to dip your toes in and try it out. Should you find that you are ready to learn how to take your dynamic conversation from the virtual world to the real world or vice versa, let me know. We can host a tweet up @rhymeandreason3.