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Tweet–to-who? Liz Townsend, Director, Dotty Hearts Ltd

Liz Townsend, Director, Dotty Hearts Ltd

As a business, are you musing with the idea of venturing into the world of social networking? Picturing that sweet innocuous-looking Twitter bird alighting on your homepage? Imagining a Facebook wall festooned with ‘Likes’ and entertaining one-liners that are liberally shared throughout the webosphere? Perhaps masterfully crafting an engaging and enlightening blog brimming with witty flair, sardonic perceptiveness and literary finesse!

If the answer to most of the above is ‘No’, and social networking actually scares you half to death or leaves you feeling cold, then you are not alone. Fear of failure, which is permanently etched in binary, let alone your customers’ memories, is not to be taken lightly, to say nothing of the amount of time required to initiate you into the basic netiquette, research your topics and then write creative and compelling prose! However, to do nothing could be even riskier.

Love it or loathe it, social networking is becoming even more embedded into the internet- browsing experience and for the next generation of customers is firmly embedded in their DNA. The Office of National Statistics reported in August that ‘Social networking is becoming ever more popular. Overall, 57% of adult Internet users used online social networks in 2011, up from 43% in 2010. 91% of 16- to 24-year-old Internet users now use social networking sites.’

Perhaps the time has come to ditch the avoidance tactics and expose yourself to the scrutiny of LinkedIn, the cacophony of Twitterville and ultimately pin your hopes onto the wall of Facebook. If you still need convincing, then look no further than the recently launched Google plus service. You may have already noticed the +1 buttons next to your search results. If you are not sure how it works, it is explained fairly succinctly in this light-hearted video. Basically, it’s yet another way for the browsing fraternity to broadcast their opinions, informed or otherwise, to their friends (I use that term loosely), or for the more ebullient to broadcast to the world.

There is undoubtedly an abundance of hype surrounding the impact of social networks and their marketing potential, and some would admit that the true value is still unclear. However, according to a McKinsey Quarterly report ‘A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing’, consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical about traditional company-driven advertising and marketing. When making purchasing decisions, they are relying more and more on what others say about a product or service.

Opinion-driven purchasing power is the driving force behind services like Google plus. It will inevitably result in further covert filtering of search results, with items that friends and colleagues endorse appearing towards the very top of the list, adding more weight to the argument that you ignore social media at your peril.

Are you engaging with social media? If so, please share your success by posting a comment!

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