The only way to build your business is to tell people about it, and online social networks are presenting more opportunities for marketing and connecting with clients with greater reach and frequency.
Some entrepreneurs may assume that their companies could get nothing more from social media than a few fans on Facebook, but the medium is actually much richer. Many organizations have already found the client service and operations value that can be realized through the networks.
Research from CompTIA, an IT industry nonprofit, found that connecting with clients and prospects on social media channels other than just the best-known sites offers an opportunity to deepen client relationships, improve communications and boost recruiting efforts.
Survey respondents identified several positive outcomes that can arise from using social tools. Out of the surveyed companies, 61 percent said adopting social media sites and related functions allowed them to have better communication with their clients, while 49 percent cited the brand positioning benefits and 51 percent mentioned cost savings. Additionally, 43 percent noted the potential for lead generation, and 48 percent said adopting the social tools allowed them to achieve real-time customer satisfaction.
Entrepreneurs should not limit their consideration of social media websites to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, noted Seth Robinson, CompTIA's director of technology analysis, because they do not give a full picture of all the ways a business can use social applications. Other websites that are worth examining are Google+, Pinterest and Mightybell. Just remember that you want to be strategic and must identify the platform that is best suited to you and your target market(s).
Social business environment can be divided into two parts - the public-facing social websites and the social enterprise tools that can make internal operations run more like an online network.
"Social enterprise tools incorporate the characteristics of social media into business processes, allowing for stronger internal collaboration, deeper understanding of customers and other positive outcomes," Robinson explained. For example, business software providers such as IBM and Salesforce.com offer solutions that facilitate internal instant messaging or enable the creation of employee communities.
Entrepreneurs need to delegate some of the tasks of building their business to technology. Social media tools can be integrated into a marketing campaign, whether managing a newsletter or promoting service offerings, to extend your reach and can also be tapped to improve communications within an office.
As Norm Trainor explained in The Entrepreneurial Journey, "Technology is a key driver in our society - it's an enabler that can significantly enhance productivity. So the question that comes to mind is why don't more entrepreneurs invest in technology? Often, it's our resistance to things we don't understand."
What is stopping you from adding social media to the list of tactics you use to keep in touch with existing clients and colleagues while also increasing your number of prospects?