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The Internet has nearly become synonymous with various social networks and media. Since most Americans are well-acquainted with the Internet, it only follows that companies who rely on Americans for business should go looking for customers where they mingle: online. The upshot of increased traffic to company websites seem pretty obvious, but the downsides ought to give businesses some pause before plunging into the vast Interwebs.
As stated earlier, traffic to the company website will increase if the company links it to a Facebook or Twitter account. A business can even manage its reputation online as well as initiate and facilitate conversations with potential customers. One can even see one’s business flourishing (or drowning) before one’s eyes.
Moreover, don’t think that the economic downturn since 2008 hasn’t played a hand in the vast increase of businesses on Twitter and Facebook. There is virtually no cost to having a Facebook or Twitter account. A business may conduct such marketing techniques as advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, personal selling, and more at very little cost to themselves. Moreover, many Americans already have devices like the BlackBerry for their occupations if not for their personal use. These devices are equipped with technology that makes the user social-network-ready, even on the go.
Today’s audience is already awash with information from varying sources, but perhaps the Internet most of all. Capturing and keeping their attention through social media, which everyone else is doing these days, will be difficult.
This implies that someone has to make the business look and feel appealing. The company must hire (and pay) someone to maintain the Facebook account and interact with other Facebook users as well as update photos, information, prices, networks, friend requests, and more. That person will likely also Tweet daily to maintain the company’s image of interactivity, liveliness, and interest in the world (namely its potential customers). Not only that, but someone must be hired (and paid) to process information on online reception, online sales, contact with customers, and the like. This, however, is to most businesses a small price to pay for such wide and potentially viral coverage.
Even with an up-to-date social network, a business stands to lose business. Why? Loss of credibility. In the eyes of more serious, old-fashioned companies, Facebook and Twitter may be for the masses, for angsty teenagers and lonely at-home moms, for the hoi polloi. Associating one’s company with the likes of them could be potentially damaging.
Food For Thought
A business must keep its target audience in mind in deciding not only how to go about networking through social media but also whether or not to go that route at all. Weigh the costs and benefits of social networking before taking the plunge, but don’t be afraid to push against the envelope. Social media isn’t exactly going anywhere, and it might be better for your company to ride the wave than get caught in the rip-tide.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships.org. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.