Nikhil TanejaJun 12, 2009 15:42:26 IST
There's a common misconception floating around the oblivious lot, that social networking tools are meant for only the tech-savvy who're out to make friends and kill time. With the way things are, let me assure you that this isn't true - there's a lot more to it than meets the uneducated eye. Social networking has shed all of its complexities over the years and evolved into easy-to-use platforms, because let's face it - if it's not easy to use, not too many people would use it anyway; and if you don't have enough people, how will you network socially, right?
Official networking on social networks
As most of you might know, one of the fastest growing social networking platforms today, is Twitter. This little social-networking/micro-blogging service allows you to send and read small updates (140 characters long) that can be viewed by anyone (in most cases). On its surface, it might seem like a complete waste of life - how could you gain anything out of writing updates about your life and letting people in on the nitty-gritties, right? At least that's what I thought at one point. But once I dropped my prejudices towards social networking, I realized its true potential.
The rough estimate of users on Twitter is said to be about 6 million. That's 6 million people revealing things about themselves, and conversing with each other - most of which you can listen in on! Now you could be a cynic and call it social voyeurism, but if you wish to to use it to your advantage, that could be 6 million people open to the idea of knowing what you or your business is about (should you choose to promote your business via Twitter, that is). That's 6 million potential clients!
What makes Twitter an even more powerful business tool than Facebook, Orkut, or other social networks, is the fact that almost every user's posts/updates are open for viewing to all. In Facebook, for instance, you have to join a group or a certain community in order for that community to be aware that you're interested in it. That boils down to the client finding the service, or a person with a certain interest looking for what interests them. On the other hand, Twitter allows you to search through all of its users' posts for any word you wish to find. If you find people that are interested in what you're providing, you can "follow" them to read their updates, and in turn, should they choose to, they can follow you back and receive updates from you. Should you use this smartly, you can find people who're interested in whatever you have to offer, even if they're not looking for you!
Open for viewing to all
To do just that, there are powerful search engines such as Search.Twitter or the desktop Twitter client TweetDeck. So suppose you're an upcoming punk-rock musician, you can search for the keyword "punk rock", find people who've spoken about it recently, and actually follow them on Twitter, or send them a personalized message telling them that you'd like them hear your music and know what they think. There's no way to expand your fan-base than actually reaching out, right? While this manual process may be too slow for you, if you wish to expand rapidly you can even purchase a pro Twitter marketing software such as HummingBird to help you out.
Keep people in the loop
Alternately, if you have an existing user base or have an established business and wish it to grow or improve its image, you can take the straightforward approach. Using Twitter as a micro-blog where your fans, clients can follow you and know what you're up to - is a great way to reach out and keep them in the loop, and let them know how enthused or passionate you are about your work. In fact, adding a personal touch and replying to messages and actively interacting with the community you've built, is a great way to build a good brand image and let them know the human side of even a seemingly corporate machine.
As you can see, Twitter can be a powerful tool to promote small, large or businesses of any size, in any way you choose to. The best part of it all is that it's easy to pick up, and should you master it, it can change they way people see your organization or you as an individual. Should you choose the straightforward approach of microblogging, here are a few 'dos' and 'donts' you can follow to ensure people don't get the wrong impression about your company:
- Always add a human touch by replying to others, giving your opinion, and asking for and responding to opinions. This ensures that you don't seem like a lifeless 'bot', but a real person instead.
- Reply to as many posts as you possibly can. It's a bad thing to ignore those that follow you, since you come off as callous or arrogant. No one likes being ignored.
- Let your employees Tweet. This is especially true in a creative line, since everyone has their opinion and people appreciate the fact that there are so many minds working behind what may otherwise seem like a lifeless machine. Revealing your human side, as I said earlier, can make all the difference.
- Commenting, retweeting and giving your opinion on other's Tweets helps people know that you're listening. Do it!
- Use a Twitter client such as TweetDeck or Blu (there are a ton more! Just search through Google). Having a program running on your PC ensures that everytime you wanna tweet, all you have to do is move to the program and start tweeting. Also, these programs give you updates regularly, so you can keep track of your faithful community.
- Don't boast too much about yourself, it just pisses people off. I don't mean that you shouldn't do so at all, but balance it out by talking about all your muck-ups and also learn how to appreciate others, rather than just yourself. You don't want people to think your company's arrogant now, do you?
- Don't post completely irrelevant and useless information. Make sure you have something useful to say, or maybe useful links/images to pass over that may help people out.
- Don't let your company's Twitter be inactive for too long. Instead, have multiple tweeters so that the flow of updates stay constant, and don't come in spam-like bursts.
To sum up, if you're running any sort of business, chances are Twitter can be a big boon to it. It costs you nothing, and pays off big time, so why wait? Start tweeting already!
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