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Improve Client Relationships Through Social Media

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RISMEDIA, March 14, 2009-(MCT)-With the growing popularity of social media platforms MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, businesses and nonprofit organizations alike are embracing the technology to build community and strengthen consumer interest.

Dan Backus, co-founder of ThePort Network, a firm that creates software tools for virtual communities, offers these four tips for harnessing the power of social media to support your company’s communication efforts with consumers:

- Know your audience. The tools you will want to invest in should be directly related to the online behavior of the people you are trying to reach. Ideally, you will want to conduct audience research to male-computer.JPGdetermine how often potential customers are online, what other sites they visit and how comfortable they are downloading podcasts or setting up RSS feeds.
- Align organizational objectives with social media tools. Different tools are better at accomplishing specific goals. For example, blogs are a great way to get feedback on potential programs from large groups of readers, while photo-sharing programs are useful for building a sense of community and excitement around new programs.
- Establish procedures. Social media require companies to have a higher level of trust in their publics than other communication tools. At the same time, it is important to retain some oversight to ensure communications remain appropriate and continue to focus on your company’s key goals. You might want to begin by identifying forum moderators and establishing rules for posting.
- Identify resources and bring everybody on the same page. A successful social-media strategy requires participation from many constituents, as well as from the organizational leaders themselves. Before initiating, make sure the internal personnel support the idea and are willing to integrate social media functions into outreach activities. Ideally, those same leaders will want to participate in the online communities themselves-both to learn more about their customers and to use that knowledge to shape future goals.

© 2008, MarketWatch.com Inc.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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