TWITTER celebrated its fifth birthday with the news that daily ‘tweet posting’ has jumped from 50 million to 140 million in the last year.
But despite the numbers, businesses are only just beginning to realise the income-generating possibilities in the rapidly expanding world of social media.
According to Bob Gentle, managing director of Aberdeen-based Northeast Creative, companies large and small, still feel unconvinced that this new media platform, can provide any lasting advantage.
“We’ve never had so many ways of communication available to us,” says Bob. “And yet people still feel cut-off and are somehow reluctant to communicate or adopt the new methods of social networking. We are with social networking, where email was a few years ago.”
Bob is a specialist in digital marketing and web design.
He’s followed the meteoric rise of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, to name but a few, and is convinced that a managed approach to using direct online communication can be a huge benefit to companies, large and small.
But, like everything else, you have to know how to use it to your business advantage – and the early adopters are already in there developing their niche.
“Digital media right now is a confusing world, and many people don’t see the need for global audiences for the information or products they supply, or don’t know how to use social media to their advantage. But it’s a powerful tool, and one that everybody should at least try.”
Bob advises that social media can’t be used in isolation from the rest of your marketing. It has to be in the context and it has to be strategic.
“What I’m talking about is your brand, how you present yourself to the world. If you get it right you make your life so easy. But if you get the elements right in some places and wrong in others, you’ve created mixed messages and there’s nothing that turns people off more.
“Twitter can be considered almost as a perpetual networking event,” Bob adds.
“People don’t buy from corporations, they buy from people. You create the persona for you’re your company – and then manage it.
“You can plan to engage with people online in a way that’s very cost-effective, and very targeted – it’s marketing. It gets down to the nuts and bolts of which platforms are right for your company, how much time you want to invest in it, and how much you want to take on yourself.”
Bob advises people to participate – but participate consistently.
“Don’t dip in and out. Do it like you mean it. The same rules apply in social media as they do in a room full of people. It’s about empathy at the end of the day – as a potential customer you meet people – you start to engage and you develop a business relationship.”
Social networking, according to Bob Gentle, can have a transformative effect on how a business is perceived by the customers and, once people understand the potential, he says, there’s no looking back.
“The next stage is easy,” Bob concludes. “Working out what the strategic uses can be for on-line networking.”
In the not too distant future, someone will maintain that social media is crucial for the human condition and provides the need that global audiences have for information – just like they did with email.
But in the meantime, most of us will continue to tip-toe into that brave new networking world and with Bob’s help, try to become more sociable.
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