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Social Media Marketing – an alternative strategy in tough times

Written by Lance Scoular

“World trade is in free fall and should decline by 13.2 percent in 2009 as the economic crisis cuts demand across the globe,” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Tuesday 31st March 2009.

To survive the current economic downturn as an importer or exporter, as well as cutting costs, you also need to grow your revenue where possible. Apart from keeping your current customers, the next goals are to increase you customer base and/or perhaps find more cost effective suppliers.

To do this effectively you need to:
1.    evaluate your target market and
2.    find cost effective ways to reach prospective customers and suppliers.

Whether you have a reasonable marketing/advertising budget or virtually nothing to speak of, Social Media provides some creative ways to make contact with either new suppliers or customers.

The most popular and fastest growing Social Media that can be leveraged by business are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Businesses that adopt these technologies will have the jump on their competition. Developing a strategy combining these three forms of Social Media can develop three powerful networks without any financial outlay.

Social Media Triangulation
Combing the three media formats provides what can be described as Social Media Triangulating or “smTriangulation the Power-of-3.”

Firstly, this combination provides the development of three separate but complementary networks with the ability to provide exponential growth.

Secondly, it provides a back up situation for your networks, should one of these online companies fail, you still have the contacts on the other networks.

Thirdly, each network has its own strengths which when combined with the others provides quite powerful synergies.

A Brief Overview of these three Social Media Sites

Facebook – facebook.com

Facebook has taken over from MySpace as the fastest growing social media network. Many businesses are creating Facebook Pages for their business and joining Facebook Groups that are relevant to their business. Also, Facebook has multimedia capability for photos and video which can be used for promotional purposes.

LinkedIn – linkedin.com

LinkedIn is a Professional Network using the format of an online Resume. LinkedIn can be used as a reference point for people to check your credentials and for you to check theirs. I see it as a point of credibility in the business negotiation process. LinkedIn also has many groups for various industries or interests you can join.

Twitter – twitter.com
Stephen Collins, (trib) on Twitter, extolled the virtues of Twitter for businesses in general and export organisations in particular, at an Austrade conference in September last year.

Twitter is a microblogging site with a limited text of 140 characters. Messages can be distributed and redistributed rapidly. The other advantage from a business point of view is the capability of building networks fast and also converting those contacts or “followers” to Friends on Facebook or “Connections” at LinkedIn.

There are various applications built for Twitter and a significant one for business is twellow.com. This application classifies Twitter members by their interest or business classification as well as by locality.

Targeted Advertising

Whilst Twitter at the time of writing has no advertising options, both Facebook and LinkedIn have targeted advertising models similar to Google Adwords. The advertiser can target their advertising message utilising the demographic data of the site’s subscribers.

Consider Your Strategy

Whilst these online networking services are free of charge, apart from the advertising options mentioned above, there is definitely a time involvement to be considered. Therefore, when considering this form of Social Network Marketing, consideration should be given to the person/s that would be best allocated to this task.

For more information about this topic or if you are interested in strategies to grow your business globally, please contact Lance Scoular, TradeStart Manager, Australian Business International Trade Services on 1800 505 529 or email international.trade@australianbusiness.com.au

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Australian Business International Trade Services

Australian Business International Trade Services

Thousands of businesses each year choose Australian Business International Trade Services for assistance with export, investment and growth strategies. Our range of services include business improvement, market intelligence, growth strategies, export documentation, productivity analysis, government programs/funding and international contacts. Whether you are a first time exporter, a growing international company or you’re looking to invest in another country, Australian Business International Trade Services will guide you through each stage of international business growth.

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