Social Networking: Wasted Opportunity or Waste of Time?
Grow your business and clientele with social visibility.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn—these social media vehicles are not just for chatty teenagers and celebrities. Businesses are taking serious advantage of them to communicate with customers and sell their products and services. But before you take the social media plunge, have a serious conversation with yourself.
What’s the Point?
Having an Internet presence is a testament to your existence, your longevity, your credibility, and much more. All else being equal, a longer presence makes you all the more “findable” online and offers a better chance for new and existing clients to communicate and recommend you to others in the industry. That being the case, it is wise to set up a profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and any others networking sites that may benefit you. If you already have a website, these profiles have similar benefits, though they are more user-friendly. If you do not have a website at this point, you are conspicuous by your absence, and these profiles will go far to mitigate this absence. My suggestion? Do it immediately. These online profiles are portals for your current clients and prospects to interact with you and learn about your company.
You could do it yourself (or have your teenager, spouse, or receptionist do it) if the budget is woefully thin. But considering the potential effect on your business, give serious thought to hiring a professional. A professional will get the media connections done promptly, not in 6 months when you may have the time. A professional will ensure that the end result presents your business in the best possible light—not only free of spelling and grammatical errors, but full of pointed and targeted messages, and information for your existing and potential new customers.
Setting up social media accounts will not make you any money, at least not in a direct way. They will, however, prime the pump. You will appear more professional, more credible, and more accessible—and these things often make the difference in terms of a new potential customer giving you a try, which does make you money.
What’s the Risk?
Launching an Internet presence but being unable to keep the websites fresh with new information is a huge risk. There are many levels of participation with these social media tools, and at this point you are only creating the equivalent of putting up a sign—or rather, a bunch of signs, with pertinent information in all the appropriate places. Definitely do not start to tweet or post messages on Facebook or LinkedIn unless you are going to devote the time to it on a regular basis. Doing so would risk a devaluation of your brand. But nothing is wrong (and a lot is right) with simply being accessible and existing in those venues.
What’s the Cost of Opportunity Lost?
The very real risk of not taking advantage of social media opportunities is that your visibility and credibility will shrink proportionally as your competition enters the space. If this year, 75% of laboratories are not making these efforts, next year it might be 50%, and in 5 years it might be 25%. Your long-term, loyal customers may not need for you to make these efforts since we are not focusing on customer retention. We are talking about the systems and efforts that need to have already been in place when you are running below capacity and have the available bandwidth to reach out to potential new customers or when you are ready to grow your business and take it to the next level.
About the Author
Mona Zemsky is the principal of M.Source, a hands-on and practical marketing consultancy (with a specialty in the dental industry) focusing on marketing planning and execution.