Social networking (also called social media) is a broad term, so in theory the definition could vary from person to person based on what they use it for.
To me, Social Networking and Social Media is simply any online tool or site that acts as a platform for interaction and networking.
If you can write a post, comment on a someone else’s post, add your own content, vote on content, or even just re-arrange the design of a site, then that is social media.
Wikipedia defines it as:
“tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.
This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.”
Are there really opportunities for a business to succeed using social media?
Absolutely, if one factors the strengths and weaknesses of the media with the strengths, weaknesses, and goals of the business.
The reality of the matter is that various social media have different strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing which ones work best for your business is essential.
This leads to your question of “what opportunities are available in this space to actually help MY business?”
1. Branding Opportunities
In the same manner that it is important for businesses to make sure they have all the various domain names that relate to their business’s name (.com, .net. .org, etc.), it is now
becoming important for companies to make sure they secure their brand on social media sites – at least the popular ones. .
Typically with most social media sites, once you create a profile, you have a unique URL where you can access that profile. That URL, if you set it up correctly, will include your brand name (i.e. www.twitter.com/MyBusinessName, www.flickr.com/people/MyBusinessName, etc.).
The brand name is also used in the title tag of your profile, and having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites may help you to have better control
over the first three pages of search results for your business’ name. It also may help users of specific social media sites to find your business if they are actually looking for your brand.
Finally, you keep competitors from grabbing your business’ name misrepresent you as I have seen in many cases.
2. Build Link Popularity
Websites essentially need three things if they are to experience good visibility in the search engines – 1.) Good content, 2.) Good SEO and 3.) Good links. There are two ways
to get links from other sites – naturally or pay for them. Buying them is the easiest but due to Google’s recent declaration of war on paid links, they can fall prey to their big
guns. So, natural is and always has been the best.
One way to obtain natural links is to link back to your original web site within the social media sites you set up. Many social media sites will allow you to include a blurb about
yourself or your company and in many cases, add a link or links to your sites.
Once you get these various social media profiles indexed, they will count as inbound links to your main website. You may even find it useful to include specific anchor text
related to keyword phrases you wish to target and point them to pages that have been optimized for those same terms. The bottom line is that social media profiles create
opportunities for natural links. Best of all, they’re free!
3. Attracting Traffic
Social media and networking sites can also send quality traffic to your site. Just like millions of people are using search engines every day, millions of people are using social
media and networking sites as well.
Throughout this ebook, I lay out strategies specifically for business owners to use to
attract these people.
4. Interaction with the Public
The reason why it is called “social” is because it allows web users to socialize or interact with each other. This has been one of the biggest fears keeping many business owners
from embracing social media – the transition from “talking to” customers to “interacting with” customers.
Most business owners are afraid that someone is going to talk unfavorably about their products or the service they received. If this is your fear then I have news for you – they are
already talking so you might as well join the conversation.
Having the ability to interact with your consumers is not just about dealing with an unhappy customer, but also taking advantage of social media to bring further attention to
business or even put a personal face on the company.
I reveal personal things all the time about myself and have received numerous compliments from clients stating that they feel more comfortable doing business with me
due to the fact that they now know something personal about me.
5. Networking Opportunities
Another way that businesses can benefit from social media is the networking opportunities. Trying to be the lone ranger of your industry is not always the most productive way of running your business. Personally, I have discovered many benefits from networking with others in my industry and getting well connected.
Many social networking mediums offer opportunities to join specific groups of interest where you can then interact with like-minded people. Facebook is a great example of this – not only can you join groups, you can create new ones, add events and even build interactive applications that run within the Facebook environment.
For me, many of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, have allowed me to develop numerous relationships which are not only beneficial in day to day operations, but especially rewarding when attending industry conferences.
The conference becomes more like a family reunion than a boring, uninvolved trade show.
I can’t tell you how many people I met in person for the first time at the the 2009 InfoSummit, but had already developed a relationship with them via Twitter and Facebook.
You’re missing out if you’re still holding out…jumjp in.