Benefits of social networking

Dominate Your Industry: Benefits of social networking

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Benefits of social networking . Pretty much everyone you speak to is on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, LinkedIn or some other social networking site.

But did you know these sites can be used to promote your business too? Indeed, food and drink based businesses ideally suit the short, snappy nature of social networking sites. Here, we will look at what sites you can use, and give you some tips on how best to utilise these sites to increase your turnover.

Cafes and food or drink businesses can benefit highly from a media presence, even if you do not have a specific website (which we will consider in a later post). You can post daily soup flavours or cake choices, speciality drinks, even special offers exclusively for your social media friends.

Posting such offers allows you to track the success of your campaigns. It also allows your customers to contact you, for example to place orders, to query your menu, or simply to say hello.

It is important to identify how you should use various social networking sites differently

It is important to identify how you should use various social networking sites differently too. Ensure your style fits with the style of the site. Spend some time building your network and watching how other businesses interact. Work out what you like and what you don’t like about their approaches, and use that as a basis for your own online personality.

Here are a few tips for using the main social networking sites:

Twitter

You can have unlimited followers, and follow anyone. Search by your area or by keywords, to ensure your connections are going to be responsive to your tweets.

For example, if you are a cafe in Bristol, ensure you follow other local businesses and local residents. Usually, individuals will “follow you back” if they have an interest in your business. You can build up your client base from here.

Tweets are limited to 140 characters, making them ideal for snappy comments and observations. Perfect to keep your customers informed about your products, new lines etc.

Make sure that you promote your account instore too, and encourage your customers to follow you for such information.

Personally with twitter, my favourite accounts are those which combine business and personality. All business tweets are dull and faceless, and all personality is pointless if you have a business you are trying to promote.

Keep in mind a split of tweets of about 40-60 in favour of personality, to ensure your followers are kept engaged and interested in you.

Post links to other sites you think your followers may be interested in too. This increases your chance of getting “retweeted” by others, which then helps increase your followers. Most importantly, keep your followers engaged and interested in you and your business.

Facebook

There are several different ways of having a Facebook account for your business. You can have a Page, a Group or a Profile page. Whichever you choose is up to you, but it is advisable to only have one. Otherwise, your “friends” will quickly become confused about which one to join, or annoyed with too many updates.

I prefer the Fanpages for business, as updates appear in the timelines of all your “Likers” and you have the flexibility to add a number of extra “widgets” to the page, such as a Twitter tab, Reviews board, Discussion page etc.

There is no character limit to updates, so you can go into slightly more details that you can on Twitter. This is useful for posting details on special menus you may have, or special events etc. From your page, you can also create events to invite your customers too, such as late night opening or charity events.

Facebook pages can be set up for free, and you can choose to add other programs to the basic page at a cost. You can also advertise the page (also for a small cost), by aiming it at targeted people (such as those in your area, or those that list “coffee” as an interest, for example), therefore increasing your Likers.

Facebook pages should be run purely for updates relating to your business in my opinion (you have your Profile page to be personal on), and updated less frequently than your Twitter profile.

They can act as a website should you not have one, and Facebook pages are quickly becoming the first point of call for potential customers to find out more about businesses.

Make sure yours is fully updated, interactive and interesting, and encourage your existing Likers to “Suggest” the page to their friends too.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business networking site where professionals post their extended personal CV and bio, focusing on the individual, rather than the person’s business.

It is useful to help build networking connections, rather than promote your actual business, so it may or may not suit you.

It is more suitable for those in the food business if you do outside catering, or if you supply goods or consultancy services, as it can help build your name.

There is no ability to post updates however, so if you do use this site, ensure you use it as a springboard to point people in the direction of your other sites (website, Twitter and Facebook

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