The Role of Social Media in Building a Business.
By Alicia Whalen ~ A Couple of Chicks
Friday, 3rd June 2011
I was recently invited to deliver the closing keynote at a Conference in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, dedicated to empowering women in business to use Social Networking to build their networks.

It occurred to me that although the purpose of the conference was to educate about how online networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can help you build customers, build brand visibility and generate sales – the most effective way to really build your network is the good old fashion way – the handshake.

Conference attendees included Real-Estate Agents, Accountants, and Entrepreneurs with businesses ranging from Design and Marketing firm catering to small to mid size business, to a small business that has hit it big with ‘Snappy Socks' – recently seen on the TV show Dragan's Den.

I found it surprising that although all were from Swift Current Saskatchewan, and surrounding rural areas, many of them had never met in person, or were aware that there were others like them out there in the community.

As I and some of the day's panelists told of our successes in using social media to connect, to build loyal customers – and to reach markets outside of our backyard's, I was reminded that Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are really just tools that enable us to extend the handshake into conversation – online and off.

Social media allows us to start the conversation (before meeting), to continue the conversation (after meeting), and to ensure we are credible as business people.

During my presentation, I reviewed the story of A Couple of Chicks, a virtual Digital Marketing firm, specializing in marketing tourism online, developed a team of people, who are virtually located around North America – and have worked with hundreds of businesses over 6 years to develop their digital and web assets.

The reality is, it was not the social networks and the Google Rankings that lead us to where we are today, (Facebook was only a bunch of code on Mark Z's desktop at the time), but it was the human connections that built this business.

Visibility and Fans/Followers in Social media channels, and success in achieving high search engine rankings merely solidify a person, or business's credibility – much like published word in newspapers and articles did before there was the internet.

Real networking and sales will always be a combination of online and offline interaction with your target consumers – especially in a B2B business. What social networking has done is open up a more direct communications channel for B2C businesses who can use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others to deliver better customer service, and have a wider reach to new customers than ever before.

With our new digital world, ‘Snappy Socks' (how brilliant are these! A snap to hold them together so you will never lose them again!) can be purchased and enjoyed by customers all over the world, who love not only the socks but the brand personality behind it.

I was inspired by the organizers of the event  who had the vision to bring this group together, provide them with the opportunity to network, share stories and feel part of a community, so that they could feel empowered to start building and extending their networks online. I wish them happy tweeting and liking and I am looking forward to hearing the success stories that come out of the inaugural event.

Alicia Whalen is the co-founder of "A Couple of Chicks.Com" an Internet Marketing, Distribution & Revenue Measurement Company. After 8 years developing search engine strategies and measuring online return on investment for large branded hotels, resorts and destination portal websites in Niagara Falls Canada, Alicia partnered with Patricia Brusha to develop an integrated, non-intimidating approach to Internet Marketing and Web strategy. 

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