Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Harnessing the World of Social Media and Client Relationships

The Wall Street Journal Online recently published an article by Marshall Loeb of MarketWatch titled Improve Client Relationships Through Social Media.

In this article, Loeb discusses the growing popularity of social media platforms like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, and how all types of businesses are embracing these tools to build community and strengthen consumer interest.

Loeb then highlights the co-founder of ThePort Network, Dan Backus. ThePort Network is a firm that focuses on creating software tools for virtual communities. Below Backus outlines the following four tips on how to use the power of social media to support your company's advantage when dealing with consumers:

- Know your audience. The tools you will want to invest in should be directly related to the online behavior of the people you are trying to reach. Ideally, you will want to conduct audience research to determine how often potential customers are online, what other sites they visit and how comfortable they are downloading podcasts or setting up RSS feeds.

- Align organizational objectives with social media tools. Different tools are better at accomplishing specific goals. For example, blogs are a great way to get feedback on potential programs from large groups of readers, while photo-sharing programs are useful for building a sense of community and excitement around new programs.

- Establish procedures. Social media require companies to have a higher level of trust in their publics than other communication tools. At the same time, it is important to retain some oversight to ensure communications remain appropriate and continue to focus on your company's key goals. You might want to begin by identifying forum moderators and establishing rules for posting.

- Identify resources and bring everybody on the same page. A successful social-media strategy requires participation from many constituents, as well as from the organizational leaders themselves. Before initiating, make sure the internal personnel support the idea and are willing to integrate social media functions into outreach activities. Ideally, those same leaders will want to participate in the online communities themselves – both to learn more about their customers and to use that knowledge to shape future goals.

These are great tips on how to harness the world of social media to your company’s and/or your client’s advantage.

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