Last month Facebook surpassed 200 million users - that's more than half of our country's population. With social networking sites exploding faster than their creators can keep up with them, businesses are diving in head first with no real goals or objectives, except to be part of the craze. Companies are creating profiles to attract consumers' attention, but many are not as competitive because of their unfamiliarity with the sites. Yes, social networking sites can make reaching a broader audience easier, but as with anything else in business, you have to have a goal and a plan to reach that goal.
While the differences between Facebook and Myspace or YouTube and Motionbox may seem minimal, the variations can treat the friendliest business with the most followers or leave it out of touch with an overly connected population. To avoid the black hole, the first step is to do your research. See what sites best cater to your business' goals and the tenancies of your customers. If you want to promote a particular motorcycle at your dealership, does it make sense to set up a Twitter account? Once a new bike comes along, you'll be left with nothing else to tweet about, leaving your followers hanging. It would be better to post the motorcycle on a dealership's Facebook page where other content can hold a viewer's attention long after that bike is old news. Once a business is able to manipulate a site to its advantage, it becomes a valuable marketing tool.
Take a step back. Breathe. Remember your business' values and use these social networking sites as tools to obtain and surpass your business' goals. If used correctly, this colossal shift in marketing can be your biggest advocate.