Does social networking really do anything?
FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube and other social networking sites are making huge differences in the communications efforts of both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Depending on your audience, one site may be more effective than another.
It’s easy to understand why such sites have become so popular. You get a free podium to talk about yourself, and it seems almost everyone is using these networks to communicate with friends and associates.
Advertising on social networks is easy. Facebook targets specific audiences, like 51-year-old male San Diegans. Plaxo has ads from Monster touting locally available jobs.
HR professionals are using LinkedIn and Plaxo to find prospective employees. Salespeople work these same channels, knowing “Joe sent me” is much stronger for building customer relationships than a cold call will be.
Testimonial value increases exponentially on YELP. And like mushrooms after a rainstorm, Web consultants have popped up to manage Twitter, FaceBook and blogging efforts or “scrape” the Web in search of customer comments about your company.
What we previously called “word of mouth” is perfect for any hot topic. Consider Iran’s June voter rebellion, where a young woman’s murder, seen worldwide on YouTube, became iconic of voter discontent.
Locally, the power of social networking was evident when, within 48 hours of Chelsea King’s abduction, 50,000-plus people joined Facebook to share stories and show support for her family and friends.
While not yet fully mature, social networks are overhauling interpersonal relationships. And if research, referrals, dating, games and the rest are all available on FaceBook, perhaps Google and e-mail are already passé.
Social networking, blogs and online ads — like publicity, collateral and broadcast — should point to your Web site where interested parties will get your entire message. But like any single tool, they shouldn’t be the entire marketing plan.
Remember — there is no silver bullet that will solve your sales and marketing problems!
The Internet and social networking sites are here to stay. And smart business people are now getting the kinks out of their efforts, recognizing that online referrals are the wave of both the present and the future.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Mr. Marketing and his family extend their heartfelt condolences to the King family. Learn more about Chelsea’s Light at www.facebook.com/chelseaslight. Reach Mr. Marketing at www.askmrmarketing.com.