Are social networking outlets valuable for more than just social contact? An article – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8273667.stm – on BBC’s web site believes this is true.
According to the author, Claire Prentice, Facebook and Twitter have become a ‘virtual marketing lifeline’ for small businesses struggling during this recessionary period.
Smaller companies often have limited funds for elaborate marketing campaigns and depend on word-of-mouth for promoting their products and growing their customer base. In support, Prentice cites specific customers that are using Twitter and Facebook as a “virtual focus group, a bulletin board, a marketing campaign, and a branding exercise rolled into one.”
Some businesses use social networks for more than just marketing. Appointment filling, surveys, promotions, and discounts are mentioned as additional advantages. Keeping in touch with customers, ability to react and offer rapid changes, and an additional ‘personal touch’ are considered valuable additions to customer service.
The author also points out dangers inherent in social networking. The potential for loss of control over an advertising message by opening a dialogue with customers is a significant concern. Some information systems experts suggest limiting social networking use to conversation and avoiding advertising. Another concern is saturation. The fine line between useful information and an overload of electronic hype is often blurred and easily crossed.
Social sites have arrived and are used frequently, if not continuously, and provide a wonderful opportunity to promote a brand or to gain a loyal following. These bonuses may be ultimately offset by a lack of content control and anonymity. Caveat emptor.
A Homepreneurs note: We started homepreneurs with an idea and launched a Twitter site shortly thereafter. It has demonstrated value time and again; many of the visits to this blog are from our Twitter site.