My role in the TM offices has expanded a bit since I arrived and, oddly enough, gone into the realm of the Social Media services we offer. I wasn’t entirely comfortable taking part in someone else’s tweets, Facebook postings and blogs, but then I started to see what was happening and what our clients were seeing. Well, first of all, have you seen TM’s blog page? We’re blogging like there’s no tomorrow! Some of that comes from the fact that we’re excited about all the trends and stories we see out there while the majority of it comes from Dean telling us that if we want a paycheck, we’ll blog and like it. But we started to see what our clients were seeing, too; interaction.

The traditional way of advertising usually involves a healthy budget set aside for tv and radio commercials, plus newspaper and magazines ads. Not only does it cost a bit, but companies then have to wait and wait and wait to find out if their efforts are paying off. That’s a whole lot of guesswork. Now, with social media, the major cost is going to be the time you have an employee set up your accounts, design the pages, post, tweet and blog. The main advantage, however, is the instant access to be able to interact and listen to your followers, existing customers and potential customers.

Think of it like this. Let’s say you have a new product coming out. Rather than wait for the press releases to go out along with your other avenues of traditional media, you start using Twitter and Facebook to generate interest and anticipation. And your blogs? It’s the perfect opportunity to go into detail about what the company hopes are the strong points of the product and why people will want to buy it. Even better than that, the folks who follow your accounts and read your blog have the immediate opportunity to respond and share their thoughts. This allows you to know what may or may not be working in your upcoming marketing approach.

Also, if you have a product that deals with technology, chances are there will be questions that come up that people are not going to want to call the company about or read in a brochure. A customer is going to want to talk to somebody directly involved with the product who can give them an answer, not an operator reading from a computer screen. Your developers or people who know the product will appreciate being able to use the social media postings to know what needs to be addressed, then actually respond either on Facebook or direct people to blog posts about it. It’s reciprocal, builds customer confidence and hopefully some customer loyalty along the way.

Finally, if you’re developing a product, customers may be able to give you some insight into what they think of your ideas, if there’s actually a need for it and any potential stumbling blocks your company might not foresee.

It all goes back to communication and having the opportunity to listen to your customers. Social media isn’t just about posting, blogging and talking up your product. It’s also an inexpensive and underused goldmine for doing what so few companies are taking advantage of.

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