Your Customers and Your Competition…Just a ___Away

Fill in the blank in the headline above: your customers and competitors are a click, a tweet or a bad online review away. That makes it imperative for today’s growing businesses to be in those same social media channels.

While many businesses are skeptical about social media—some still associate it with teenagers and Facebook—that’s no longer a smart business practice. Facebook put social media on the map and is going through an evolution that makes it more business focused.  Other Internet sites such as Google are following suit. And they are by no means the only examples of how social media is more than just a passing fancy. The social media revolution encompasses career-oriented networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn), location-based services (e.g., FourSquare), customer feedback sites (e.g., Yelp); video sites (e.g., YouTube); as well as the tens of thousands of user forums focused on a specific company, industry or issue. Really, any site that involves a personal exchange of information and ongoing interaction.

Now many businesses are finding that their initial engagement with a new customer starts via social media: subscribing to a Twitter feed, friending on Facebook or commenting on a blog post. This leads someone to visit their website, call or e-mail to get additional information and then make a purchase.

In some industries, for example hospitality, online review sites are critical. A good review obviously helps business. A bad review may require you to tactfully correct a misperception or acknowledge a shortcoming and make appropriate changes. This two-way flow of information has led to the growth of sites such as Postling where businesses can monitor social media and respond immediately.

Using social media, small businesses with limited marketing budgets can generate awareness and word of mouth. But before you get started, remember:

  • Social media can be time consuming. Set a realistic schedule. Post relevant information no more than a few times a week to start.
  • Aim for a consistent persona online. Develop themes that you can return to over and over.
  • Keep track of recurring issues. Try to make regular notes about future posts—this makes it easier and faster when it comes time to actually sit down and write.

The primary value of social media is the opportunity for engagement and interaction. It’s a medium for the soft sell—answering questions, being resourceful and providing support—not blowing your horn or touting specific products.  However, when they buy from you, give customers the option to share the news with friends on Twitter or Facebook.

And don’t forget the original social media channel—your business communications system. Don’t be engaging, interactive and responsive online, but then make it difficult for people to get information over the phone. Use the capabilities in today’s IP-based communications system—such as customized routing, hunt groups, multiple incoming lines, connections to salesforce.com etc.—to get a streamlined presence that impresses customers and prospects alike.  Check out our communications solutions from Avaya located on our website at www.primetelecommunications.com

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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