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Ever feel like you’ve missed the social media train? Don’t fret. Even though the train has left the station, you can still catch a ride.

If your business is not engaged in social networking, chances are you are not engaged with your own customers. While not every social media tool is right for every business, studies show that the “trend” you were hoping social media would turn out to be . . . well . . . isn’t. The advertising medium is here to stay and the proliferation of communities of brand lovers talking about your business — and businesses like yours — is growing like a Chia pet in spring.

So why explore social networking options for your business? Simple:

Traditional Marketing is Losing Its Punch. People love to talk to each other. The one-way advertising speech from business to customer is over. The Internet has revolutionized buyer behavior and savvy businesses shouldn’t expect traditional marketing strategies to pull the influential punch it has in the past.

Your Customers are Online. You need to fish where the fishing is good. More and more, online communities are where you will find your customers and potential customers. Get cookin’ on Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and Yelp and find out what your target market is thinking, buying and yes, even ranting about. Check out forums and groups for opinions and tailor your marketing message to the conversation.

Build Brand Awareness. Social media presents an incredible opportunity to generate brand awareness within your target audience. Research what channels and tools your customers are using – just ask them what communication channels they prefer. Yes, it’s as easy as a survey. Begin to contribute, share and engage with them. Then, feed your Google porch dog and by engaging other blogs and platforms and linking back to your own website.

Social Networking Makes You Smarter. It’s true! Social media can be an incredible (and FREE) learning tool for you and your team. By building a strategic following and followers list on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, you can create a funnel of information that will grow your industry knowledge. If everyone else is out there searching great content down and sharing it, your learning time has been cut in half! This creates personal power and opportunities for innovation.

Social Networking Strengthens Relationships. There’s a secret sauce to social media that creates a bond not easily explained. By reaching out to others with tweets, posts and sharing information, there’s a camaraderie that has real “community” power behind it. More than a just a trumpet to tout your wares, social media platforms offer an exclusive opportunity to grow genuine friendships and build your business at the same time.

It Helps with Brand Management. Reputation management is now a real reality for many businesses. As more and more opinion sharing is taking place online, businesses need to be listening to the good and managing the bad. As Yelp and other opinion sites become more widely used, as a business you should regularly Google yourself, set Google Alerts for your company name and be proactive in managing your brand. Being engaged daily might also help you turn a grumbler into a raving fan if you can get in front of concerns promptly.

Birdsong Creative

Birdsong Creative is a creative design agency in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville. We tirelessly pursue perfection in Branding, Print Design, Logo Design, Social Media, Web Design and just being awesome. We are a small group of highly motivated and creative thinking professionals that eat, drink, and sleep design and marketing strategies.

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