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Using social media to market your business

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


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You may have heard this phrase being bandied about, but aren't quite sure what it means or how it can be of use to your business. Let's demystify the online world of social media.

Tagging, blogging, connecting, twittering… if these mean nothing to you, then you're clearly not taking advantage of the captive audience the world of social media puts at your fingertips (literally).

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and business networking sites like LinkedIn and BNI give you the opportunity to profile your business and form relationships with potential customers, service providers and strategic partners.

While your customers could come from all over the world, if your company is not quite ready to export, rest assured that there are millions of South Africans using these communication tools and thousands of SMEs with this type of online presence.

The time is now for getting in on the action and the best part of the deal, is that you can do all this for free! All it will cost you is some time and a little planning.

Making the most of free web space

While using these sites is pretty simple, there are certain ways to harness their potential to generate business.

  • Use your business profile to form relationships, put a face to your business and start building demand for and trust in the services or products you offer
  • Don't be nervous about trying to become an expert blogger. Look at existing conversations that are relevant to your business and start interacting
  • Don't expect immediate results. Building relationships takes time, but maintaining a presence and regularly updating your contacts on what you're doing, will bear fruit soon enough
  • Other than making your business visible, use your conversations to explain what makes your service or product unique or what you can offer that your competitors can't 
  • Use this time to get to know your customers and what their needs are. Asking questions can be a good way of assessing how to align your product or fulfil a need.
  • You can use these sites to provide good customer service to existing clients by following up with them and answering questions they may have about your products

Do some research into the various networking websites on offer and decide which one would be the most relevant to your business. These sites will often provide stats on user demographics (location, average income, age group, etc), which will help you settle on the sites most likely to be worth your time.

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