Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

Social Networking for Business - Is this really lot of hype?

There are those that might say I can be rather cynical at times and if this is one of those times then I welcome being corrected and enlightened.

I have been in the IT industry long enough to have seen my fair share of “fad” technologies and I’m afraid that for the majority of business I am still wondering why there is so much attention being given to social networking for business.

I don’t say that social networking has its place and a purpose, but for brick and mortar business I am left bewildered.

Everyone talks about having a Facebook page attached to their profile for their business, a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account etc, and the list goes on and on.

Being conscious of wanting to be abreast of current developments I have done that (and probably not correctly).  Well as soon as I set these up I was bombarded with network marketers and other people who generally had nothing to say or share of consequence.  Finding my way to the REAL content of interest was nigh on impossible if indeed I could recognise it.

Yes, I could keep in touch with friends, acquaintances and people in my industry.

For what purpose?  To share my experiences, my knowledge and viewpoints?

Well uh I suppose so…

To gain insight from their experiences, knowledge and viewpoints?  

To a small degree once I got past all the spam and personal dribble.

Maybe I’m missing something but as I understand it, if you are everlasting these social profiles for your business it was for the purpose of:
•    Attracting “fans” interested in what you had to say.
•    Setting yourself up as an expert in some particular field
•    To direct your “fans” to your real business website
•    To conduct 2-way dialogues with your “fans” sharing thoughts
Excuse me but wasn’t this the purpose of your business website as well? It has been estimated that as much as 90% of the social network traffic is spam. It is full of people directly pushing one product or another or meaningless information.

I don’t know about you but I am too busy to wade through all of this. Every time I go into Facebook, I try to find something valuable but am at a loss.

Great for socializing with personal friends but I prefer the phone or meeting them. As for twitter with its short-hand messages, I’m just beyond that one.

It is a bit like networking in business. There is no doubt of the value but if you do it as an opportunity to get out and have a few drinks then you won’t see much business come of it. Business networking requires you to be focused with a sense of purpose. You work the room, meet people, find out about them and if you have a mutual business interest you arrange to meet later. If I meet someone who is there just to socialize and drink, I quickly move on.

My personal view is, spend your time and effort in building a brilliant web site. Provide the content that your target market is interested in.  Optimise your site so it can be found in the search engines.

If you want, you can create “member” areas where the level of interaction can be move effective.  Run yourself a blog inviting comments.   Set up a forum for open discussion if you wish. Finally market your website where your target market really is already looking and finding quality content.

If people want to keep track of what you saying, then set up RSS feeds so they can receive a weekly digest of new content in your blog.

These set of strategies will attract the right visitors to your site and they will follow what you have to say.   Mind you, if you aren’t following these practices, then your social networking is really going to amount to little any how once they do visit your website, and they will because this is where you are trying to direct them so you can do business.

Anyone in business knows, or should know, that at the end of the day you win business because your customers believe you to be the best of what you do for them. Your website must support this and if it doesn’t, no amount of social networking will convince them otherwise.

As I said at the beginning, social networking has a place and for a small select group of business it does support some aspects of those businesses.   I do believe however that for the greater majority of SME businesses, social networking is only a distraction from where you can for more effectively direct your time and energy.

Invest your resources in building a brilliant website that is current and rich in content. Give attention to those who show interest and develop a following of faces in your business, not your socializing.

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