Being tech savvy doesn't mean what it did ten years ago. It's no longer about sleek metal finishes on your products, showing off your numbers on a professional looking website and making sure the guy who answers the phones knows exactly what he's talking about. Those things are all still important, but right now the focus is on social technology, networking with customers in a way that just hasn't been possible before.
Using Facebook, Twitter or one of the vast amounts of other social networks out there gives you a direct line to the people who are going to buy your product. Essentially, it's your public face on the web, and you're going to have to treat it as such if you want to turn it into a useful tool. Here are five essential guidelines you should follow if you want to turn the social networks in your favour.
1. This is not your website
Don't ever confuse your brand specific website with your social networking presence. Think of it like this: your website is your store, it's where people come to browse, to find out a little about you and to get to know your products; your social networking presence is the staff of that store. They're the people who potential customers are going to come to with questions. Don't just repost from your website, but try to keep Twitter and Facebook a little less formal.
2. Be human
There's nothing worse than a networking presence that feels fake. Take a look at some other feeds, see how other businesses manage their online presence. It's rare that they sound corporate, and rarer still that the people behind the feeds don't sometimes use their own names. Social networking is a great chance to actually show your customers that you're more than just a brand name or a product. Make them feel like they're talking to a person.
There's nothing worse than shouting at a brick wall. If someone comes to your network with a complaint, then try to address it the best you can. If someone comes with praise, then accept it gracefully. You need to find the balance between righting mistakes and blowing your own trumpet. Social networks let you talk to people about the problems they have with your business, as well as what they like about it. So learn, engage, and try and grow from the experience.
4. Never fly off the handle
Here's the thing about social networks: they're enormous. It only takes one mistake for you to get pounded into digital dust. Sure, there are damage limitation strategies, and a lot of people will say that there's no such thing as bad publicity. They're wrong. When a social networking site jumps on a bandwagon, it goes for the kill. Always take a deep breath before you post anything. Be personable, not confrontational, and if there are two sides to a story, try to sit somewhere in the middle.
5. Find your voice, and use it
There's nothing worse than a brand that feels like a rehash of a bunch of others. This is your online presence, so make it your own. Find a reason for people to come to you, but more importantly, find a reason for them to stay. Competitions, conversations, sharing, all of these will get you noticed. If people like what you're doing, then they'll tell their friends. Social networking is word of mouth for the digital age, and you have to make sure that people are saying the right things about you.