Only twits don’t tweet

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Years ago social networking was just a way for cool kids to talk to each other but now it’s the hottest trend in marketing. Smart businesses know it, and it’s clear resellers that do not get involved will lose out. It wasn’t that long ago everyone expected a company to have a web site; now consumers expect them to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Trouble is many Australian businesses are ignoring this trend. According to the latest survey by Sensis and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), only half the large businesses in Australia work with social media. It’s a lost opportunity – 62 percent of Australian internet users have a presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. Many are using these sites to research products.

Australia’s enormous uptake of social networking is a big opportunity for resellers.

A number of trends are emerging. The first is that social networking has gone mobile. It fits in with the growth of mobile commerce. With the smartphone, social networks would allow resellers to respond to consumers in real time. Already, interesting trends are emerging. US apparel retailer Express, for example, has a commerce tab on its Facebook page allowing customers to buy from its entire product catalogue without turning up at the store. Facebook’s launch of its “Places” service last year is another case in point. Last November, Facebook launched a deals program in the US allowing retailers and other merchants to offer coupons and specials through a mobile phone and linked to the spot identified in “Places”. Retailers can tap into this feature with products, sales, and buying ideas.

This means resellers should look at getting Facebook pages as well as Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. They could even look at a YouTube account to present videos. Imagine the impact of running case studies of clients using your products.

Companies active in the social media space include Absolut vodka, which uses an online video ABSOLUTworld and has a Facebook page, Boeing, General Electric, Motorola and Dell which run blogs. They are using it to build credibility, foster communication with customers and boost sales.

Many companies, such as Ernst and Young, now use social media for recruiting. Smart resellers should look at using LinkedIn to recruit quality switched-on staff, particularly generation Y.

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