Implementing Social Networking into a Business Model
By the AllThingsCRM Teams
Thursday, 28th January 2010
Business models generally encompass the aspects of business upon which a framework is built. Those aspects might include a business purpose, your product offerings, various marketing strategies, infrastructure, organizational structures, and business operations.

Social networking is becoming the next big thing in business. We are in the Web 2.0 age; millions of Internet users are utilizing social networking applications like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter to connect, communicate, and share information.

For business, the Internet is no longer just a resource for housing company Web pages or generating Google hits. Rather, it is becoming an excellent means of connecting with existing customers, reaching new customers, and exploring new marketing techniques.

Social networking is a new channel for customer relationship management (CRM) to be widely utilized. If you are interested in implementing social networking into your business model, but are unsure how to begin, consider the tips below.

Know What You Want To Achieve

Whether you think you want to generate new customer leads, get feedback from existing customers, market products to customers, or make business connections, decide what it is that your goals are. If your goals happen to include all of these elements, and more, that is okay. It is just important that you have an idea of what you want to accomplish so you know what social networking applications will work best for you.

Research and Review Free Applications to Determine What Might Help You Meet Your Needs
There are many free social networking applications available.

Sites like Facebook and MySpace allow you to create a company page where you can post your contact information, highlight product information, post pictures of products, and communicate with customers.

Sites like LinkedIn provide businesses with opportunities to make connections to other businesses who might be able to assist you with your goals. It is also another option to connect with current customers and generate new leads.

Twitter is a useful application for communicating directly with customers, as well as reviewing what customers are saying about your company and products. It allows you to post updates from computers as well as mobile devices, enhancing your opportunities to connect.

Flickr, YouTube, and other media applications are great if you want to allow customers and potential customers to have visual access to your products or services. You can post pictures and videos that highlight specific products and how they are used, enhancing consumers' knowledge and potentially answering questions for them.

Set Yourself Up and Start Networking

Once you have determined what your needs are and what applications you can use to address them, it is time to get started. Social networking should not be something that you attempt partially.

Rather, if you are going to set up a Facebook page, make sure that all necessary content is included, it is attractive, and that you update it regularly.

Likewise, if you are going to use Twitter to communicate with your customers, do it regularly. Post once a day, or once a week, but make sure you are doing so regularly. If you do not update your social networking channels you will not be using them effectively, missing opportunities to connect and communicate with customers.

Social networking has the potential to be very useful to businesses. In terms of a business model, social networking can allow you to inform customers of your product offerings, establish marketing strategies, connect partner networks, and build strong customer relationships.

Social networking is a popular means of communicating and is utilized by millions of people. If used well and updated regularly, social networking can help you build your customer base and support your business model.

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