Bristol, (PressExposure) April 23, 2009 -- With research by Nielsen Online revealing that more than two-thirds of the worldâs Internet population now visit social networking sites such as Facebook, experts have advised that using online communities to establish their brand is more important than ever for small firms.
Social networking sites are an essential way to get in front of people you want to communicate with, from customers, suppliers and the media to potential partners and employees, according to Lucy Whittington, director at Inspired Business Marketing and expert contributor to Marketing Donut, the essential marketing website for small businesses.
âThe key thing to remember is they facilitate conversations and relationships - like any other form of networking - except that they are online and the reach is much wider,â says Whittington. âIn most cases, the only cost is time, so for small businesses, they can be a cost-effective tool to increase visibility and in the long-term, sales.â
But itâs not all about selling, she warns. âItâs more about establishing yourself as a credible brand, or an expert in your field. For instance, you might use a site to write an intelligent blog about your industry sector. If people find it useful, theyâll recommend you, and you therefore build up your profile. Running special promotions and offers for followers can also create loyalty.â
So how can small firms get started? Firstly, think about how to reach your audience, Whittington says, by identifying which social networking site is right for your market, from business focused communities like LinkedIn and Ecademy to more relaxed, consumer sites like Facebook.
Searching for key words and phrases linked to your business will help give you an idea of demand. âIf you find lots of groups talking about your product or industry on Facebook, for instance, itâs probably a good idea to get on the site,â she points out. âBut remember, you donât have to be on everything â stick to your marketing plan. If youâre selling mobility products aimed at the retirement age population, itâs unlikely that MySpace is going to be much help as its audience tends to be younger.â
Lastly, once youâve become part of the social networking community, the number one rule is to be proactive. âItâs no good just being on there, and hoping youâre going to stay at the front of peopleâs minds. Update your status regularly, keep your blog fresh and get involved,â says Whittington. âThereâs lots of help and advice on these sites, so if youâre open about being new, and needing help, youâll easily start building relationships and your brand profile.â
Further information: Become a Marketing Donut expert by visiting the blog http://marketingdonutblog.co.uk/contributors/ Find out how to join Marketing Donut here http://marketingdonutblog.co.uk/join/ For more information on social networking, listen to Ecademy founder Penny Powerâs advice on the Your Business Channel website http://www.yourbusinesschannel.com Press Release Distribution By PressReleasePoint
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