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Social Networking and Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

In today’s Internet-savvy world, anyone can establish an online presence. The main question for you as a business owner, however, is: how do you increase your trust in the eyes of a consumer? If anyone can set up a website quickly, easily and cheaply, how do you make your business website stand out among the rest?

Social networking provides a phenomenal opportunity for any company to connect with the consumer on a personal level. Companies of various sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to small & medium enterprises (SMEs), are using varying levels of social networking to communicate with their clients. One of the most helpless feelings as a consumer is when your voice is not heard. The following is a real-life example of the power of social networking, recently witnessed on Facebook.com:

A husband and wife rent a vehicle with a major car rental agency. This car rental agency is worth $12.1 billion, has 68,000 employees and more than 5,700 locations around the world. The couple is charged some fees that were misunderstood, to the tune of around $130.00. They complain at the airport location and speak with a manager who says, “Sorry, we can’t do anything about this.” The husband writes a well-articulated, yet frustrated post on the company’s Facebook page. Within minutes, an assigned customer service representative contacts the husband and wife, gets the Regional Manager involved and all fees are waived.

Is this type of resolution always going to take place? Absolutely not – but this shows a tangible example of the power that lies in social networking from a business perspective. If your customers know that they can have a direct connection with your company, they are more apt to want to do business with you in the first place. We live in a world where we have seen trust betrayed in the highest levels; whether it be governments, CEOs or high profile figures. When you can establish your company as a trustworthy, people-oriented organization, you build rapport and deep connections. These connections make people less likely to go somewhere else, whether or not your competitors are less expensive than you are. Customer loyalty is built on trust.

In order to begin building trust, where should a company start? First off they should ensure that they have an appealing website set up with a reliable host. Next, establish a presence on the major social networking sites:


Facebook.com – Establish a “fan page” for your company

YouTube.com – Use to post up videos related to your company, instruction and promotional information

LinkedIn.com – Establish your company’s home page, and all corporate officers/owner profiles

Twitter.com – Set up a Twitter feed to be in constant communication with customers, prospects as well as to build credibility.

Each of these social networking websites has a different use. The owners of a small business are going to be busy taking care of the day-to-day operations, so it’s important to set aside a small portion of time (15-20 minutes is adequate) on a daily basis to update the Facebook and Twitter feeds, and to stay in contact with customers. There are various free programs available that allow people to update both Facebook and Twitter with a single click of a button, thus removing the necessity to log into both websites separately. This saves time and money – allowing the business owners to focus their time on making money. Social networking takes a commitment but it can pay off huge dividends.

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