Monday, October 11, 2010

Is Your Company Missing Their Own Conversation Online?

Guest post written by Karel Zeman -  please see bio at the end of the article.

The social media landscape has been changed forever and whether you are on board with it or not, sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are here for the long haul. They are mainstays of the new internet. Your customers, their friends, and their friend's friends, are all active on these social sites.

Do you know that upon last check, over 400 million people and businesses held a Facebook account? These numbers can't simply be ignored. If you are a business owner, you need to start getting into the conversation. Seek out your audience, see what they are buzzing about and take notice. Have a conversation with them, engage them, get them talking. Although you have little control over where the conversations are headed, you can become part of them and start learning about the habits of your potential customer.

Every business needs to implement a plan which gets them involved within the Social media. If you are not sure how to get started, then read on. 

The most important thing is to get in there. Don't wait any longer, get started planning today.

Each department of your company or every member of your small business staff should be involved in some way. There is a good chance that many of them already are. You may find that many members of your staff are already very involved online and have already talked about your company at some point.

Take advantage of this and use their knowledge to assist you in implementing a company wide approach to Social media. Remember that all interactions with your staff, regardless of their level within the company, are Public Relations interaction and bringing them onboard will make them part of the plan and more likely to embrace it.

Not only will you need to get the members of the staff onboard, if you are not the CEO, you will have to ensure they are also part of the conversation. You customers want to be able to have access to all members of your company when needed and not get stopped at the company logo. They want to know that they are in touch with real people, like themselves, and not a faceless corporation. 

It is critical to implement guidelines within the company for when staffers interact online to ensure your reputation remains solid. Create a handbook or other company memos which clearly outline the expected behavior of your staff when they are communicating online on behalf of the company. It is also wise to elect a member of the company to act as watchdog over the social media and monitor certain phrases such as the company name, the CEO's name, products you may sell, etc.  This can help to quickly identify a problem and address it before it becomes viral, which can literally happen in an instant online.

Social media is here to stay. You can either continue to pretend it is a passing fad and be left behind or embrace it and make it a part of your corporate culture.  Get started implementing a plan today and start getting into the conversation. The worst thing you can do is wait or ignore it.

There will be a learning curve, as there is with anything new, but the good news is everyone has to go through it. Just tweak it as you go. Your competitor is probably already at it, so don't be lost in their wake and remember, many members of your staff are probably already online and already talking about the company whether you want them to or not, so it is best to grab hold of it and use it to you benefit rather than let it run off wild.

Karel Zeman manages GO-Gulf.com , a web design Kuwait company that provides complete web development solutions in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Middle East.