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Use Social Networking to Grow Your Small Business

by cbensen on July 28, 2008

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Have you gotten a Twitter account & added a bunch of friends? Or maybe you signed up for LinkedIn or Facebook & aren’t sure how it’s going to help your business?

There are so many networks that you can join! Each has it’s idiosyncracies but they all have one thing in common: It’s all about building relationships & connecting. For simplicity I’m going to talk about Twitter, but the concepts apply to all of them. (The key is to choose a network where your customers are at.)

Here is an overview of how you can use Twitter:

1. Share ideas with others in your niche

Build a network of like-minded people by noting conversations of interest. Follow the person that has caught your attention.
Participate in the conversations. Listening is good, but you need to get involved to gain the full benefit.

    2. Find new customers

    Make sure that your bio info describes your services
    Monitor Twitter using summize.com (bookmark it & set up an RSS feed)
    As you network you’ll find people interested in your services

      3. Provide Customer Service

      If your product is being discussed on Twitter (use Summize.com to find out) then you can respond to them. People love getting a response when they’re just venting.
      There are many examples of this – I’m using @NetSolCares to assist Network Solutions customers.

        4. Gather information

        Creating a new product or improving on one? Twitter is a great place to ask what they think. Any social network is & what better group than people in your niche? They will tell you what they think. You simply need to ask.

        5. Share product info, coupons, etc

        How creative can you be? You could share pre-release info on a product, coupons, sales info, etc. What about running a contest on Twitter? I’m sure that you can come up with many more. You could even start a brainstorming session on Twitter!

        Here is further reading with links to tutorials & some resources for finding new people on Twitter. If you want an idea of how many businesses are on Twitter check out this list & maybe even follow a few!

        I also have written a number of articles on Twitter. Feel free to follow me @cbensen

        Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more posts like this!

        Brought to you by Network Solutions®, a Web.com® service.

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          • http://direct2dell.com/smallbusiness/default.aspx Kara Krautter

            Great tips Connie. Social networking provides a great market research opportunity (tips 1 and 4) for small businesses with small or non-existent research budgets. Online brainstorming and pilot testing may not be ‘scientifically’ sound methods, but they are a great way to engage with your customers and others in your industry.

            Kara Krautter
            Dell Small Business Community Manager

          • http://konnects.com Konnects

            Great post. I’ve seen many small business and organizations develop networks on http://www.konnects.com. Many of them use the network pool not only to grow/expand but also to market different products and services.

          • http://www.AuctionDirectUSA.com Eric Miltsch

            Hi Kara,

            Great post (nice example from Connie)

            Twitter is also an element of our online brand expansion and exposure. I try to reach out to my followers in an attempt to get to know them, hear their feedback and share ideas.

            One example can be seen here: http://www.TweetandGreet.com – the response has been very positive.

            Eric

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          • cbensen

            Thanks Kara for your input. Dell has certainly been leading by example in this! I know many from Dell are on Twitter.

            Konnects.com looks interesting. I was looking at it last night.

            Eric, you are doing interesting things on Twitter too!

          • http://www.konnects.com SWillemsen

            I use Konnects to promote my small nonprofit. With their community piece and interest groups it has really helped me to network amongst other like minded people.

          • Josh Aronowitz

            I see the current trend increasingly leading towards free online CRM systems, instead of large software expenditures that can end up costing a fortune and way more than a company intended. A good option for small business that want something more along the lines of ACT or Goldmine but cost-effective is http://www.octopuscity.com. They offer a FREE!!! web-based crm system / contact manager that’s taking quite a different route from the large and costly CRM software systems. In addition to the crm system Octopuscity.com has a business network as well, which offers other great business services like free teleconferencing. Definitely worth taking a look at!!!

          • http://www.beautybasicsupply.com romeo

            very informative and helps me to get an idea how to expand our business.

          • http://www.beautybasicsupply.com romeo

            very informative and helps me to get an idea how to expand our business.

          • http://www.easyrecovery.ie/ Data Recovery

            Social Networking can be a powerful to professionals and businesses. This conference will highlight the value of Social Networking in fostering meaningful business relationships that benefit individuals both personally and professionally. It will provide examples of specific applications where Social Networking can be used to communicate with personal networks AND to accelerate company visibility.

          • http://www.openaccessmarketing.com Call Center Outsource

            I completely agree with many of the points that has been raised in this article. Online social networks are all the rage these days. Social networking platforms such as MySpace, Facebook and HubPages allow you to form relationships with people instantaneously. In social networking your connection with people is permission based and you establish your global presence. This is just another form of advertising you and your business and for free. The advantage you have with social media marketing over the traditional marketing is that your potential customer gets to know who you are and you begin to build trust. People buy from those they trust. Thus if they do buy, it is because of you, not the company you represent nor the products they don't desire. -Julienne

          • http://www.kpo.com KPO

            This is an informative post that rounds up all the details. Interesting stuff you have here! Good to see things coming together. Social media is quite a powerful force. This brings that into view and illustrates some finer point that make it all the more understandably useful.

          • http://www.acquisix.com Telemarketing

            Great post! Social media is fast becoming one of the main marketing, PR and advertising tool that companies have been using. With the ability to reach millions of users and get instantaneous reactions or opinions all at the same time is something not to treat lightly.

          • clickflag

            Now a days,social networking has become a very powerful way to promote our business.There are so many websites like twitter,facebook,myspace etc which can help us to find targeted audience under our industry.
            Anyway,you explained very well about use of social networking sites to our market in this article.I hope this article ll do help lot of people.