Advisory Sep, 16 2009

Leveraging social networking sites to promote business

Did you think social networking websites are just a waste of time and energy? Well ask franchisors who are using these websites to build a stronger business network. Here is how they are going about it

By Neha Malhotra
Sub Editor, Franchise India Holdings Limited, Web Division
Leveraging social networking sites to promote business

We always talk of networking when at business events to increase business association. Well social networking websites are providing the same platform just that it’s in the virtual world with an informal environment. This is in a way aiding communications among businesses and is a great technique of making a complementary online presence.

Notable benefits

Social networking websites can be a powerful tool for identifying new business partners, franchisees, new employees, or simply building your business presence.

These websites help put a human face on your business and allows people to get an impression of what a relationship with you would be like. It gets easier for potential franchisees to identify the apt franchisor for him. As most of the youth is hooked on to these websites, it can serve as the pertinent way to get the right kind of employees for your business. Some websites have communities related to various business categories which you can be a part of and get in touch with people from your trade. These websites are very easy to embrace, and are most effective. It is not difficult to have your own identity on the website as each service has formal sign-up steps that assist you in creating your online identity. Once you have presence then you can create your community with the information of your brand so that people can know about the brand and its ideologies.  These websites helps the investors have an easy access to your company profile and also makes it easier for you to know the list of people interested in your company.

Extension and inter connectivity

Through these sites you can create a gateway to your company website as well.

If there is a new promotion, launch or any activity taking place for your brand and put the same links to these social websites for people’s views and these can further link back to your company’s website. You can increase your brand awareness with this procedure.

You can also enjoy the advantage of the search engine optimisation wherein with the increase in the number of sites that include your name the user can have an access to link back to your company’s website, the higher your profile rises in search engines and the more you are benefited as it will give more  popularity to your brand.

Most frequented websites

Websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut, Bigadda, hi5, Myspace, Plaxo, Xing and Twitter are the ones which are used the most; however the degree of advantage for each of them varies. The question for entrepreneurs is how to tap into this trend as a business opportunity, rather than just putting it to use as a means to connect with people. To see what works for you, you can register on to these sites and sense their viability for a few days or weeks and opt for what poses best prospects.

The dark side

There is always a different side to every story. All these websites bring great benefits to your company but at times can also bring along a few negative things that will hamper the name of your brand. People may spread around some wrong information or comments about the company for some reason which can harm the company’s image.  Samit Lakhotia, Business Development Head, Re-feel says, “ In the service industry, 100 per cent customers cannot be happy, so there is a possibility that the unsatisfied customers start posting downbeat information about the company which can defer potential franchisees and which can further harm your business.” These problems can be resolved if a proper eye is kept on conducting yourself on these websites.

So if you’re looking at a supplementary way to promote your brand and increase business connections, and can deal with the hurdles- get clicking!

Related: Administer your finances for franchise success

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