Is your business one which offers FMCG products or general services to a mass market? Do you tweet and Facebook? No? Perhaps, is your business one which offers a service at a highly professional level? Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Do your staff members have profiles too?
If any of these questions, terms or profile types seem like strange and foreign words to you, as a business owner, you should be concerned. The digital era has taken over, and with a firm grip on the business world – growing daily – if you fall behind, you may never catch up!
So what’s the 411? What do you need to do to stay afloat in the online space, as opposed to finding yourself drowning in a sea of terms that you hear constantly, and never understand? First and foremost, you need to understand the basics. The best thing you can do is take a course – something that introduces you to what’s happening, what’s available and how you can get involved. But in the meantime, here are some brief insights to get you started.
1. Social media profiles
As a professional, your LinkedIn profile is your new business card – of course you’ll still need the real ones, but this professional networking site will mean your name, company and number can be in the hands of not only domestic contacts, but international ones. Many businesses now uphold some sort of social media presence – and what they select as their network depends largely on what sort of business they are. If they market to a mass audience, or their product is more socially based, the likes of FaceBook is quite popular. Larger corporations or professional services companies tend to favour LinkedIn.
2. Social media for customer service
What is perhaps one of the most interesting developments in the digital space is the use of social media tools for superior customer services. Many big service companies, especially the major telcos, now use online tools to track mentions of their brand name in Twitter, and then use their own Twitter account to respond. For example, if a customer heads online and comments that their phone hasn’t arrived yet and is late, the customer service team spots the mention and swoops in with a great answer and immediate action.
3. Blogs and forums
Generally now a part of your website, blogs and forums enable further two way dialogue between you and your clients/consumers – improving your relationship! Blogs have changed the face of business, as many professional services firms especially have moved towards positioning as a ‘thought leader’, providing free insights and information in their blogs, improving their service for current and prospective clients. This action also firmly ensures they are viewed as a legitimate authority in their area.
4. Online customer service
Ever called your phone provider and then waited on the line for half an hour of elevator music? Frustrating? Many large service providers – especially travel sites – have now added a new layer to their customer service, online chat. Now you can click a button, wait your turn (without call charges) and then simply type or speak your question to a waiting customer service rep using an online chat system similar to MSN messenger.
5. The best results
Finally, one of the ways many people find their service providers now is through internet research. For this reason, it serves you well to be at the top of the results list when users type in a relevant keyword. Search engine optimisation and advertising will improve your results and your bottom line.