The Value of Social Media to Entrepreneurs

The following is a guest post by Matt Polsky.

Ford Social Media

Last year, Ford revealed their 2011 Explorer exclusively on Facebook and experienced monumental success. Not only did the company’s Facebook release have an unheard of return on investment, but it also showed a large-scale change in the way companies market themselves and their new products. Now you can’t watch a commercial or hear an ad on the radio without a Facebook logo or the company page being mentioned. However, social media isn’t just for large companies. Start-ups should also be utilizing social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for their own gains.

Get The Word Out

Social media sites are great for start-ups because they allow businesses to reach a much larger audience than a traditional marketing campaign would allow. Facebook and even LinkedIn have ad management systems that allow you to target specifically who you want to reach. There’s no more need to blast a message to thousands via a traditional media campaign and have a minimal return, when a good ad campaign on Facebook can produce results for less than twenty-five cents per customer.

Not only does social media provide a great way to target your customer base, but these sites also provide businesses with a great way to build hype around a product or service. Prior to a product launch, you can use Facebook or YouTube to post videos or enticing pictures that may excite your current customer base or provoke the interest of prospective customers. Through Twitter, you can Tweet daily about a new product’s development to increase excitement. You may also ask Fans and Following questions or post provoking statements to build a stronger community and to keep current customers engaged.

Protect Your Brand

However, social media sites are not just avenues for advertising and building hype. Businesses with accounts on these types of sites need to be well aware of the traffic they are receiving and of those that are following them in order to maintain a positive online reputation, especially younger companies who have not established a strong brand.

News feeds, discussion forums, and chats can easily allow malicious users and angry customers the chance to completely slander your company or brand if you are not careful. To make sure that your company does not become surrounded by negative press, simply keep your sites monitored and quickly and politely respond to any and all comments regarding your products or services. It is a good practice to not only comment on negative comments but on positive comments as well. This helps build brand advocates and loyal customers.

Keeping your social media sites updated regularly is key, a neglected account can be worse than no account at all. Users expect to see updates daily; however, sending too many updates can ultimately annoy customers and result in losing a follower. I’m reminded of an automotive dealership that blasted close to twenty used car listings simultaneously on their Facebook page, which ultimately crowded their followers news feeds, leading to over half of the following to leave and led some to even post angry messages on their wall. Social media provides a platform for consumer word of mouth, and how you respond to your customers is crucial.

Social media provides a great opportunity to grab customers and build a loyal customer base and a strong brand; however, remember if you leave your pages neglected, this will lead to nothing but negative PR. Customers want to feel as though they are a part of the brands they support, and social networking sites create just the avenues for them to have the connectivity they crave.

Matt Polsky is the Senior Content Manager for Veterans United, providing insights learned from the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.

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