How to use Social Networks to your Advantage

In today's society, you cannot escape the fact that the internet has become a social hangout for people all over the world. Even if you are the oldest person on the earth and have no clue about websites, you hear the familiar names like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others. Reporters ask you to comment on their pages, and television commercials tell you to follow businesses on their fan pages. But what is social networking and how do you use social networks to your advantage?

Social networks are places on the internet where you interact with others. They have gone beyond the scope of message boards to become instant response centers. Unlike forums where you might wait hours or even days for someone to answer, social networks are much like answering the telephone, or receiving a text message on a cell phone. Individuals have effectively opened up their personal lives providing all kinds of information about themselves, and letting others know anything and everything from what they are wearing to what they are cooking for supper.

And of course, like most other things on the internet, businesses have found a way to make social networking profitable. And if you run a website, you, too, must understand the advantages of using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Reasons to Get Involved with Social Networks:

  • First and foremost, social networking is much like physical networking. When you join the Kiwanis club, for instance, you hope to meet people like you, and people with whom you can make contacts for your business. You need leads.

  • Another reason to join a social network is to develop your own "fan club" or following. By having regular readers, you can instantly tap into a goldmine because presumably these people have something in common with you. Why else would they follow you?

  • The trick with social networking is to get people to like or trust you. The idea is not to promote your business per se. Those types of aggressive tactics are considered in the same vein as spam and people don't like it.

  • Social networks are cheap advertising if used in the right way.

Suggestions for Ways to Use Social Networks to your Advantage:

  • Give away things that are useful to your followers. If you are a real estate agent, most of your followers may be people looking to buy or sell a home. Give them a tip sheet on sprucing up their home before showing it. When people find you on twitter, you want to come across as somewhat of a "perfect real estate agent".

  • How-to videos are another great way to gain a loyal following. Of course, at some point you can mention your website or product.

  • LinkedIn has been beneficial for companies trying to keep their employees in the loop. You can use it to stay in touch with freelancers and others in your immediate "work" circle.

  • You can use the social networks to improve your relationships with existing and past customers. By keeping your name, brand and message out there, people will think of you when they need something.

  • Posts should be interesting and consistent to gain more followers and benefit from word of mouth advertising.

Without doubt, you might find it a little overwhelming and you may be apprehensive about joining social network sites but really, you should it give it a try and see how you can use them to your advantage.

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