Social Media is Not the Only Way
A bit too much has been made of social media and viral marketing the last several years. While these are valid concepts, too much emphasis has been placed on what is essentially random happenstance and trends. There are marketing techniques one can employ but none of them ensure viral success and the World Wide Web comprises far more than just social media networks. Private social networks are far more effective marketing tools.
Target your community
Social media is only so much a singular community as “The Internet” or “Albuquerque.” The real online communities are segmented like any others, tied together by common interest. The social networks are not marketers but service providers and although social media marketing can be very powerful even for non-marketing specialists, the majority of users are mere participants. While having a presence on many social media sites helps with branding, the maintenance of all those accounts is unwieldy for businesses without dedicated staff. For small to mid -size businesses, building a community specifically dedicated to your company, products, and services is a better approach.
No Middle Ground
A dedicated community is specifically developed around your company and services, sod all of its members have those common interests. Their choosing to participate indicates their desire to learn more about your company and services. You will be privy to their personal information once they sign-up, allowing you to market to community members directly, as well as generate leads offline. Potential customers will not have to search for your account or profile across different social networks and the information you provide will always be targeted toward willing community members, so there is little need to generalize or alter your speech to pique interest, avoid conflict, or ensure your message is not misconstrued. Your posts are also less likely to be lost in a flood of unrelated topics, hashtags, and conversations.
You Set the Rules
The platform you choose eliminates limitations placed on accounts by networks, such as 140 character length messages. You can also delete abusive or negative comments and users and promote positive ones. By removing unwanted elements and promoting leaders, a true community based upon the common interest of your company will emerge. Hosted on your own site, interested parties will have only one destination for information, discussion, and customer support.
In a nutshell
Multiple social media accounts improve branding but increase workload. Some providers offer social media platforms, content, and community management for businesses that wish to create their own networks specifically for their customers. These communities are not merely promotional tools, instead serving many functions. Making your company easily accessible is almost as important as the information collected from members.