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Why Do Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses Need a Social Media Strategy?

The last few years have seen a rise in the use of online networks in India. More and more people are going online now and Facebook has become a common word. A year ago my Mom got herself a Facebook account and today my Granny asks us to login (to the “Diary” ask she calls it or Facebook as we know it) so she can check on her Grandchildren’s updates and photos. My Granny is 85 years old and that says a lot about the use of social media in India.

The age of children using the internet is dropping and more adults are getting comfortable with the internet every day. Facebook and Twitter are now used to share more than photos and life updates – they are a place to share successes, failures and most importantly voice opinions. This is why if you do not get on this bandwagon now, you may lose the race.

Here are a few reasons why you need to take notice of Social Media and Plan a Strategy –

The Way People Buy Has Changed
The way people buy products and what influences them has changed. Today people don’t get swayed as much by ads; that’s where the process starts. An average Joe would see an ad and like what he sees. He then goes online and does a bit of research. He reads about the product and checks reviews. He posts his desire for a product and asks his friends for their opinion on a social site like Facebook or Twitter.

Today this is a crucial point of sale. What his friends say can make or break the sale. Their opinion is an important part of his decision making. So it’s not enough to just sell to him, it’s important to make sure that his friends feel good about your product and promote it.

People Will Talk Even If You’re Not There
My husband recently bought an iPad. He thinks it’s the best tablet device available today but since it comes from Apple – a proprietary company it has its drawbacks. Last week he updated the software and in the process a lot of things stopped working. He has been very vocal about just how upset he is with the iPad and Apple on Facebook.

Consumers today may not always talk about how great a product is but they definitely will tell the world if it doesn’t work. It’s an old sales adage – a happy customer may tell one person or two but an unsatisfied customer will tell TEN.

Customers are talking about your product online – they may say good things or bad, but they are definitely talking about it even if you are not listening.

It’s Not Just The Sale!
It’s no longer about a sale. In this day and age of active participation on Social Networks, you need to win over a customer before, at and after the sale if you want a successful business. Your sales approach, how you conduct the sale and your follow-up will be talked about.

If you have won over a customer on all three counts you can be assured that he/she will evangelise your product and bring in more customers.

Online Communities
Facebook and Twitter are just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of niche communities and groups have sprung up around topics lately. You can start a group on just about anything on Facebook or networks like Ning – from your favourite washing machine brand to your views on Gandhi.

These communities share views and opinions among themselves but a lot of it is also public. They post reviews on sites, comment on blog posts and voice their opinions in conversations online. Their views can make or break your sale.

Today to reach out to your customer you need to move from the traditional ‘push’ marketing method to a ‘pull’ strategy. You need to listen to them, understand their needs, plan your social media strategy and make your information available to them when they want it.

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