Why Should a Business be Online?

My parents, not being very technology savy or social, have never really embraced Social Media.  Mysapce and Facebook were just things that their kids were always addicted to.  The idea of a business creating its own social media accounts is even more obscure to them. When telling my father about what kinds of things I did during my summer internship at Break the Ice Media this summer, he was more than a little concerned when I revealed how much time I spent on Social Media sites.

It is through that internship, though, that I really figured out for myself why businesses need to establish a social prescence.  Certainly, in these current times it’s strange for a business to not be easily found on Facebook, but a frequent question heard from non-marketing people is, “why does that business need to have a Facebook or Twitter?” Consider this an explanation that you could refer someone to after the next time you hear that question.

F-Commerce

F-Commerce, any use of social media to assist in the online buying and selling of products or services, is probably the most obvious reason for businesses to be on Social Media sites. Consumers, myself included, have started to live by the notion that we shouldn’t have to be disturbed with driving to a store in order to purchase something.  Just as businesses all created websites with virtual shopping carts after the Internet Revolution so that their customers could buy products from inside their own house, some have also started to conduct actual business on Facebook. 

The idea is simple – businesses want to be as close to their potential customers as possible.  With over 6 million users, Facebook is a location that a good amount of customers congregate.  Going directly to where customers already are is a great way for businesses to ensure they are doing business with as many people as they can.

Engagement & Participation

Engaging a fan base and seeing their participation was the most rewarding part of my internship this summer. My theory is that by taking on a real online persona, a business can seem more life-like and friendly to their customers.  Who wouldn’t prefer to do business with a company that they can easily contact and interact with so easily?  Eventually, some customers will start to build a relationship with a business, and that relationship can go a long way in terms of a customer’s loyalty and likelihood to refer friends and family to a business.

One of my favorite parts of my summer internship was the “Create a Caption” photo album that we started for one of our clients.  As a petstore, this client had a fanbase on Facebook that included many passionate animal lovers, and that made managing their Facebook very rewarding.  Just as a way to engage those fans, we began finding and posting a humorous picture involving animals each week.  The feedback and participation was incredible!

Dispersing Information

This one is simple.  Quite frankly, Social Media is a great avenue to distribute important information to customers.  This could include events, sales, new locations, new menu items, or any other possible thing that a business’ customers would need to know.

Monitoring and Scanning

One use of Social Media that most probably don’t think about enough is monitoring and scanning. One thing is for sure: people are on Social Media sites, and they might be speaking about a business.  Whether that talk is positive or negative, don’t you think it would benefit a business to be able to respond to it?  Especially in the latter case, a business that answers criticism online rather than ignoring it can save a good portion of its reputation.  Twitter makes monitoring and scanning especially simple by searching for commonly used phrases.  Responding to criticism and answering customer’s questions all falls under another use for Social Media: Customer Service.

This is simply a list of what I consider to be the most important reasons for a business to be online.  But there are definitely others!  So what do you think, what are the best reasons for businesses to embrace Social Media?

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About Jim Mignano

Jim Mignano is a young professional practicing and learning Public Relations in Rochester, NY. He is passionate about the possibilities that digital media provide and loves utilizing new platforms for a variety of functions. James' blog is about people and the technology they use. It's about communication and persuasion... the old and the new ways of doing things... the struggle between sticking to the tried, true recipes and experimenting with intuitive, innovative ideas. It's an extension and reflection of James himself: the convergence of ambition & ability.
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