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42Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012BackgroundSocial networking marketing has recently shot into the headlines. The recent release of Facebook shares on the United States financial markets has not escaped anyone. Social networks growing up and advertising revenue is the name of the game. They are working hard to ensure that its systems are friendly places for businesses and that means opportunities for small and medium sized businesses in the UK. Locally you may have noticed proliferation of social networking courses for business. The potential in terms of low cost advertising and getting messages out direct to customers is certainly alluring.Know your audienceCertain products and services lend themselves better than others to productive social network marketing. Business to consumer interactions can work very well, although don't expect all customers to adhere to the usual professional niceties, indeed any negative comments need to be responded to in a very speedy and direct way. You will need some confidence in your product and systems to address this.Latest servicesThe big social networks you should be aware of are Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. It is possible to connect these services; so that you update one of them and it feeds through to other services. This is very convenient but you should certainly top it up by using the platforms directly periodically.This is a fast moving area and new services are emerging all the time, the latest ones gaining traction being Pintrest (great for creatives) and Instagram (also image based). Themes for ContentThere are various ways you can generate ideas for content some may be news based (you should source raw content/ideas from your favoured news websites, other social network users and any other places you like), company happenings, celebrations, picture based (using smartphone camera photos), responding to others, programming a list of tips ( you could call this a 'mini course') and competitions. Expect some interactions to be purely opportunistic. The aim is engagement and for this to be entirely positive.Valuing your TimeYour time is valuable, increasingly we are aware of work life balance issues. Before Get SOCIAL savvyUsing technology as a networking tool is a must but can be a minefield for the uninitiated. Paul Levy of Livetech outlines some of the do's and don'ts

www.networkshe.com43invaluable to make a few 'online buddies' who are in a similar position to yourself, ideally a little more experienced. People thrive on positive comments and being thanked online just as everyone like praise in the 'real world'. It is really not appropriate for most companies to pay someone to do the actual interactions though, after all they are your customers/potential customers and as such all interactions are precious and should be treasured. Above all respect your contacts avoid at all costs sell, sell, sell. Social networks should be viewed as a customer communication and engagement tool, seek to educate, inform, entertain and delight.Be Professionally PersonalIn an ideal world your time on social networks would be purely business centred and the returns would be quick and easy. Unfortunately people will not respond to or follow a social feed that only ever 'talks shop'. People are interested in your thoughts on the recent Olympics and maybe even where you like to shop. Adding a few more personal tweets or statuses will make your social network more human, and help garner a larger audience. You also have to build trust with your users as your ultimate aim is to sell, so don't be too abrasive with your marketing techniques, Facebook, Twitter et al. make it very easy to ignore you so your 2000 likes may only really be an audience of 200.Getting HelpThere are a number of courses you can study to find out more. Some companies will help you set up on the various networks and guide you. It can be embarking on any social networking campaign, put a value on your time and then work back to calculate how much time/money you are willing to devote to this marketing channel. It is so easy to get immersed in low level interactions and voyeurism that achieves little. This also becomes a challenge if you decide to allocate social networking activities to another person/member of staff. Setting clear expectations about what is and is not acceptable is essential. This is especially the case when delegating this to younger less experienced staff who are judged to be internet savvy and just right for the role. Do ensure all interactions are done with the correct measure of professionalism and informality.At its worst social network marketing can mean a lot of wasted time effectively preaching to an empty room, or just as bad a 'community' of takers all out to achieve their own narrow aims. Know your audience and networks and choose your 'friends' carefully, where possible.Marina HouseDeganwy QuayDeganwy, ConwyNorth WalesLL31 9DJ01492 AppsWebsite ManagementWeb Design Article by Paul Levy - LivetechLivetech are a company based in the Marina at Deganwy Quay, established in 2000. They advise and help organizations with all aspects of online marketing and ecommerce.