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A level playing field in the world of marketing is opening doors for small and medium sized businesses with limited advertising budgets.  With 75% of Canadians accessing broadband internet and another 62% of Canadian internet users estimated to be social network users, on networks such as Facebook and Twitter, customers are twice as accessible as they were five years ago*.

There are important marketing lessons to be learned from the past.  Today’s savvy customers have trained themselves to disregard commercials on television, filter spam in their email and throw away junk snail mail without opening the envelope.  Who can blame them with the information overload they face every day?  Therefore, the potential of social media networks to provide an exhaustive pool of customers should not be abused if businesses want to remain relevant and trusted amongst their customers.  Those that are able to develop a marketing plan that ensures customers are provided with germane information will be able to engage existing customers for feedback on products and services as well as ultimately gain new business.

If you are considering moving forward with a social media profile, such as a Facebook page, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Social platforms have become a powerful tool because they enable two-way conversations.  For example, a direct line to customers allows businesses to determine which are coveted concepts, products or services and, more importantly, which are not.  The key to a good conversation however involves not only speaking but listening as well.  In addition, while the concept may seem simple, it is as relevant to a good relationship with a customer as it is to a significant other.*   Find out if your customers want to hear about the newest products, sales/promotions, or events, and tailor your messages to their requests.
  • Value the time your customers will spend reading your Facebook posts by determining how often your customers want to hear from you. 
  • Reward your customers for their time.  Many companies are utilizing the power of contests and promotions on Facebook or Twitter to get customers to participate in the conversation.
  • Understand that customers are on specific social networks for particular reasons.  The Facebook network is built on personal relationships while Twitter is built on common interests.  Your Facebook campaign should attempt to provide your customers with the ability to involve their friends and family in the conversation. 

To keep an active business profile on a social network still requires a certain level of time and dedicated resources.  However, at the simplest level, your business can be better informed by tapping into the various social networks and staying informed.  Companies that choose to ignore the millions of public conversations taking place online may find themselves losing out to their more plugged-in competitors, both large and small.

*Many of these concepts were reaffirmed at the Canadian Marketing Association’s (CMA) Social Media Conference today.  Stay tuned for our future blog on trust, relationships, and other important concepts presented at this conference.

Sources: emarketer; internetworldstats

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