Effective Social Networking

Effective Social Networking Requires Collaboration

Every day customers ask us to add a Facebook, Twitter, or similar account to their home page.  Everyday, we hear from people about how they will use social networking to market their business, product, or idea.  However, they usually are talking about publishing, not about collaboration.  Often, the collaborative side of social networking is overlooked.  Social networking is not only about using social networks to promote your product, business, or idea by pushing out more marketing content, it is also about collaboration.

The Publishing Aspect of Social Networking

Using social networks is a great way to post marketing content.  Everyone knows the importance of getting published, and people have been publishing content for a long time.  The internet made it even easier to publish content.  Social networks made it even easier still.  It is very simple for someone to create an account and start loading in content, pictures, and more.

Putting content about your business in the right locations will allow potential customers to learn about your business, product, or idea.  Obviously it is important to put out good, interesting, and helpful information.

However, many business overlook social networks as a place to gather customer feedback and involve customers in a collaborative process benefiting the company and the customer over the long run.

Collaborative Social Networking

Publishing something on Facebook or Twitter doesn't mean that a company is successfully involved in social networking.  Successful social networking requires businesses to collaborate with their clients.

Collaborative social networking not only gets people talking about a business or idea, but it also allows companies to gain valuable information about their customers.  Evangelists who are happy with your product or service can promote it by giving positive feedback (and doing some of the publishing for you).  Remember that customers can also be posting negative feedback as well.  This offers businesses the opportunity to improve on products or services. It is important for businesses to be present on social media so that they can respond to customers and move negative comments toward a positive resolution. Believe us, conversations regarding your business are very likely already occurring online. Wouldn't you like to join the conversation?

Potential customers who have been made aware of your product or service through a social network, from valid known trusted sources, will be more likely to do business with you. They are one step closer to a purchase.

Collaborative Social Networking Allows for Better Communication with Customers.

The most effective social networking allows customer feedback.  Customers have the ability to provide:

  • Ideas for Service or Innovation
  • Early Warnings of Problems or Opportunities
  • Testimonials
  • Ideas for Improvement
  • Customer Service Tips from User to User

Through social networking, companies can better their product and services.  From social networking, businesses can also be more available to clientele or consumers. This allows for more effective communication with them, producing a better result for the customer.

Social networking is not just about publishing, but about collaborating with others about a product or service.  Instead of thinking of social networks as a place to post marketing content, businesses should think of social networks as places to gather customer feedback and involve customers in a collaborative process to improve the overall customer experience.

 Examples of a Successful Collaborative Approach

Some examples of a collaborative approach in use are the Kellogg's Sweepstakes, Coca-Cola's Mountain Dew Dewmocracy, and the Starbucks's My Starbucks Idea campaign. These three examples each got customers online and communicating with these companies.

Kellogg's is always trying to involve customers through special promotions and sweepstakes, this is a very minor form of a collaborative approach, but it still gets some people excited to see if they've won.

Dewmocracy 2008 encouraged Mountain Dew consumers to vote for the next flavor of Mountain Dew, then buy it when it came out. The new Mountain Dew in 2008 was voltage, and they are having a Dewmocracy 2 this year. Apparently it worked the first time.

MyStarbucksIdea.com started in 2008 as a forum for consumers to make suggestions and ask questions. The website now has 180,000 registered users, and 80,000 submitted ideas, 50 which are now sold at Starbucks. Starbucks has benefited from its social-media promotion.

iBCScorp™'s Social Networking Initiative

iBCScorp™ works hard to help its clients improve their use of web based technologies.  As internet consultants, we do a variety of programming, consulting, SEO, and marketing work for our clients.  Including Social Network Marketing.

Most of the interaction we have with our clients is via telephone, our website, and via e-mail.  We don't deal with end users and relative to Starbucks and Kellogg's our customer base is small.

We do use social networking to publish articles such as this.  We also publish press releases and pertinent industry information.  We are hoping over the next several months to establish more collaborative social networking methods allowing customers to provide feedback, and collaborate with each other on ways to improve their business.