Social media has proven to be the quintessential tool for building lasting end effective communities for your customers to hang out, share their thoughts, bitch and complain; whatever it is they want to do while you listen in and respond. (Hopefully, you respond–you DO respond, right?)
Unless we suffer a near world ending apocalypse, social media is not going away. Now that people have a way of speaking directly to the companies they buy from or deal with, they will never let it go. They like being able to have their voices heard and social media is a great way for them to do that.
The best way for businesses today take advantage of social media is to use it in the way their customer do: exchange ideas, look for feedback, recognize achievement and talk. Communication is what makes social media great. Knowing how best to use that communication tool to improve your marketing is what makes social media great for your business.
Two things are sure with regard to social media and businesses: 1) as a way to connect with customers, social media is here to stay; 2) social media will evolve into an essential, customer community-building tool every successful business – large or small – will use.
“Social media” is the technology that makes online community building possible, not the community itself. It allows for the creation of, and service to, online communities, where dialogue and interaction among community founders and members are possible. While the term “social media” is handy, it would serve businesses well to think of it as “building online customer communities.”
There are two primary examples of these communities:
1. A company’s profile and “fan page” on sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Your company can build communities with these public platforms, which are free, but have limits.
2. Communities founded and hosted by your company and oriented around relationships with customers and prospects. This type of community is established when customers subscribe to one or more of your channel offerings in order to receive information. There is now new technology emerging that helps you create a Facebook-like social media platform that you host, which I predict will become the next killer app.
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