This is a guest post by guest author Vern Marker.
The challenges facing business today, everyday, are not so dissimilar from those a generation or two or three ago. The equation is actually rather simple. Open a business which performs some sort of service or sells products. The delivery of those products or services may be to consumers or perhaps other businesses. Once the capital has been invested and time taken to develop plans of action the company needs one single, crucial element in order to have a fighting chance of staying in business and succeeding.
What is that all-important aspect which is required for success? The customer. Ever since the concept of charging for one’s wares came into existence, the concept of having someone to sell to was along for the ride.
In today’s business world there are fancy, intellectual names assigned to the various aspects of how companies and customers are co-dependent upon each other. Here are but a few:
- Customer Relationship Management
- Customer Acquisition
- Practice Management
- Customer Services
- Consumer Satisfaction
- Client Retention
Somewhere along the evolutionary line of business development the saying “The customer is always right” came about, perhaps much to the chagrin of those providing customer services. Today, it might be more accurate to say the customer is always right, sometimes. Some may be more right than others.
So how is it that modern businesses employing the Internet with its vast spectrum of resources can figure out which clients are the most right, which need a bit of hand holding, and which customers should be fired altogether?
Enter the opportunity presented by social media websites. Just 5 or so years ago, these online destinations were in their infancy and really hadn’t started maturing to the level of becoming viable business resources. Today, one might have to look far and wide for an individual who has not heard the likes of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, to name a few of the most popular social sites online.
Even though these communities have been built and millions of users have come, are they necessarily required for the successful use by businesses large or small? The challenge faced is determining where to put ones business budget in order to see a quality return on investment of both time as well as money.
With few exceptions, creating and maintaining a presence on Facebook has almost become the default standard any business or organization must undertake. The great news here is that the communities using this social site count into the hundreds of millions, are located around the planet, but also have the distinct flavor found in local community organizations.
Twitter can be effectively used by many businesses provided they exhibit just a bit of restraint. When a tweet comes from a business it should either be about helping its current customers – or on a very limited basis be marketing deals or great opportunities. As soon as the volume of Twitter messages becomes overwhelming, followers will block the business from sending anything more to their message list.
For companies dealing mostly with other business, LinkedIn should not be passed by. Also, human resources professionals can find tens of thousands of potential candidates for job openings within this social community.
One interesting area of social media which has been growing rapidly for only a couple of years is called geo-local services. Essentially, these websites are using services like Twitter to broadcast a user’s physical location to their friends and followers.
From a business perspective, geolocal social sites provide members with access to specials and great deals only found when using the social community service. Additionally, users can easily send messages to their friends located close by, effectively bringing you more business.
The best advice to give curious businesses considering social media sites is do the work. Once a platform has been chosen, become effectively active. Not too much, not too little. Provide real answers to those asking questions about the company’s products and services. Though determining ROI precisely can be a challenge, the word of mouth generated by social media is inexpensive, and can be quite effective.
Vern Marker is a freelance writer who is currently working on a project to create forms, which will allow him to edit pdf pages
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