Social media has opened up lines of communication across traditional barriers, with long-lost friends and relatives staying in touch on a daily basis, year after year. So it’s no surprise many companies are dismantling private communication networks to move to the social space.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all great resources for communicating with colleagues and co-workers. Instead of limited communication to a select group of exclusive business partners and members, businesses are realizing the widespread benefit of opening communication to a larger audience.
Visa recently joined the ranks of businesses moving toward the social space. Visa’s Small Business Network was once a resource for members to network and share ideas, but those members were forced to visit a special page. By moving its network to a Facebook page, Visa takes the conversation to a forum with approximately one billion existing members.
As the social space invades more areas of our lives, more businesses are realizing the benefits of creating a public social space. As your business expands its social media presence to include networking among members, here are a few tips to ensure success.
- Gain followers. Whether you’re building your forum on Facebook, LinkedIn, or another social media site, the first step will be to make sure your page has members. Reach out to your current associates, professional contacts, and clients and invite them to join your page.
- Post relevant, informative content. This may seem like a no-brainer, but once you’ve engaged someone to look at your page, that page’s content will determine whether that person stays or leaves. Photos, videos, and links to blogs and articles can provide your members with the meaty material they’re seeking.
- Encourage interaction. On its Facebook page, Visa asks questions to engage followers and encourages shares and likes. Visa has created a community of small businesses who interact with each other and with Visa itself. By having an active presence on its page, Visa gives followers the feeling that they are in an active forum.
There are still definite benefits to more private channels, including the ability to immediately access articles and blogs. While businesses can create blogs and articles on separate pages and link to them in social media posts, the content isn’t readable right away, which can lower the audience for your content.
American Express’s Open Forum is an example of a private networking opportunity. Small businesses navigate to Open Forum to gain insight and read valuable tips. But even Open Forum is no stranger to the benefits of social media. The site links to its Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts directly from the Open Forum main page. Open Forum uses the techniques mentioned above to engage small business owners and encourage interaction.
Even businesses with a private forum can use an interaction between websites and social media sites to attract as many customers as possible. Social media users will click through to check out the original site, while forum members will click over to see what’s happening on your business’s social media sites. Combined, it can work hand in hand to improve a business’s online presence.