Archive for May, 2010

Should I Do Business on Facebook?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Is Facebook Good for Business

This is a question I get on a consistent basis and while the answer is often the same, there are some things to consider before making your final decision. Can you do business on Facebook?  Should you be “on” Facebook?  Is Facebook good for my business? The answer is yes and no.

The reason is that Facebook is being viewed as something “new” when in fact, basic business principles should be used to ascertain whether the application can be used to further business objectives or not.  Once we start applying basic business concepts, it quickly becomes apparent whether Facebook is a suitable investment of resources or whether it is a waste of time.  Which it will be is going to depend on your individual business objectives and how well you use the tools around you, in this case Facebook.

First of all, understand what Facebook is – it is not a business tool per se, it is an online social network.  Be clear about this, the primary word here is “social” – bringing your business into these networks is like a car salesman gatecrashing a party with the deal of the day.  Online social networks allow individuals to share information and keep themselves abreast of developments within their social circle, which may be a social circle dedicated purely to family and friends, or may be a circle of contacts which have a common interest or may be a network of business and professional connections.  Primarily, Facebook is a social rather than a business networking tool (for a business online social network look at LinkedIn), and as a business active on the social networks you need to act carefully in order to not upset the indigenous users.

To answer whether Facebook is good for your business, ask yourself whether there are target audiences and interest groups which will help you acquire business?  You may be looking at acquiring business directly by selling to Facebook users themselves, or indirectly, by raising your brand awareness or using the network to provide market feedback on you and your products.  If the answer is yes you can achieve your business objectives of sales, marketing, consumer testing or whatever you have stipulated, then the answer to the original question is still not complete because Facebook is not the only tool available.

There are more online social networking sites than just Facebook; how does Facebook compare to other sites and should you be concentrating on just one site or spreading your efforts across multiple networking sites?

Facebook dominates demographics in the older age ranges, from the early-twenties upwards, and has assumed a dominant role in the amount of time surfers are spending on the internet.  In this regard, Facebook dominates the social networking scene with only comparable competition emanating from MySpace.  MySpace is geared towards the younger age range and has greater emphasis on social media channels such as video, music and has a more pop culture outlook. Facebook is more about sharing life events, photographs, maintaining contact with family members of all age ranges, friends and for reconnecting with lost contacts.  Business circles and connections do exist and are quite popular but Facebook is not primarily established for this and this can lead to some very damaging Facebook mistakes.  For purely professional and business networking, LinkedIn is the leader in this field though the membership numbers are significantly lower than the social networking sites.

To summarize, the real questions which need to be asked are:

  1. Are my business objectives served or satisfied by using online social networks?
  2. Which specific network will best serve my specific objective?

If you can answer “Yes” to the first question and “Facebook” to the second, then it is obvious that Facebook can help your business.  The issue will then become how you do this in practice, but that is a topic for another article. And while the answer for businesses to be on Facebook is usually no, there are instances where Facebook can help, but your time commitment and social commitment will need to be consistent and creative. So, now do you think you should do business on Facebook?

Online Reputation Management Advice

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Getting GoogledGood news travels fast; bad news travels faster. Recent spurt in cases of rampant, and sometimes baseless, negative online publicity has affected brand image of many companies. In 2005, a single post by a blogger criticizing Dell’s support services pulled down the company’s reputation by a couple of notches. The corporate world is waking up to the necessity of playing an active role in online reputation management.

Online Reputation Management involves not only analyzing all that is being written about your brand online but also repairing any damage found and constructing a positive image. A successful ORM campaign should involve public relations and search engine marketing. You have to ensure that good things are being said about you on various websites and these websites get top search engine rankings.

How to monitor/track your online reputation

Regular monitoring of online media will help you keep tabs on your public perception. It will also alert you in cases of copyright violations, competitor smear campaigns, domain squatting, etc.

There are many online tools you can use to keep one step ahead and take immediate action. Google Alerts is the most popular monitoring tools that will track and inform you if your brand name comes up in news, feeds, videos, blogs and web results. There are blog-specific search tools like Technorati and Feedster. Twitter Search and Social Mention can also help you catch the buzz about you in social networking sites.

How to repair your online reputation

With the growth of user-generated media like blogs, Tweets and Yelps, the chances of creating negative publicity have also increased. The first step towards tackling negative comments is to create your real presence in popular consumer-generated websites.  Responding to your critics on these sites will build trust around your brand. In cases of inaccurate projections, you can request the comment authors to pull down their posts by giving substantial evidence.

Press releases can be posted on popular press release submission sites. Expert articles pertaining to your industry can be submitted to reputed sites with back-link to your website.

You can also buy domains with your brand name (for example if your company is called blush, blush.com, blush.net or blushsucks.com are some domain names you can book) to prevent people with malicious intent misusing them against you.

Not to keep picking on Dell (I’m using a Dell computer right now), but here is a negative site that could have been snagged to prevent bad publicity: http://www.ihatedell.net/.

Sometimes, repair can be a long-drawn exhaustive process. Companies often use search engine optimization techniques to push down negative websites and increase the visibility of websites with positive content.

How to improve your online reputation

An important step in improving online reputation is creation of positive sentiments through various content platforms. This means you have to fully use your online assets. Start by optimizing your corporate website so that it gets top search engine rankings.

Leverage your relationship with your partners to include information about your company on their websites. Set up and maintain blogs that highlight your products, customer testimonials, services and company-related news. This idea involves grabbing as many of the search engine results as possible on the first page of search results. Using high ranking partners will help tremendously.

A proactive online reputation management initiative goes a long way in helping people and companies. It’s one of the best tools to gather useful feedback from customers. In cases of complaints, it gives companies a chance to take early action and prevents build up of a sudden crisis. Above all, what makes ORM a critical business strategy is the role it can play to influence a rapidly growing force called the online media.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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