MIAMI – Leo Benjamin’s social media marketing strategy is about as thin as his clients’ hair.
He’s the owner of a hair restoration clinic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and has sent about 60 messages on his Twitter accounts, AdriansHair and Medtress, since March 5. He writes about sales and how he likes helping his clients at Adrian’s Hair Center – always ending with a link to his homepage. But his posts tend to fall flat and don’t gain much – if any – response.
“This week alone, I haven’t posted a thing on either one,” Benjamin, 48, said. “Whether I get a lot of business from it, I don’t know.”
Benjamin admits he’s new to social networking, but he’s among many business owners who are diving into Twitter and Facebook because they are cheap marketing tools at a time when cash is tight. More than 1,000 people are following his accounts, and those who stumble upon his messages are reminded that he’s a resource for hair-loss remedies.
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For some businesses, Twitter and Facebook accounts have been extremely effective and profitable marketing tools. But companies without a social media game plan are finding it tough to get results.
To be effective, they need to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of social networks to make worthwhile connections with customers.
In the past few months, Twitter has taken off. It’s hard to get through a news program or a talk show without a Twitter message flying on the screen, so more companies are flocking to the 140-character message tool to reach customers.
Twitter now ranks as the third-most-visited social networking Web site, behind Facebook and MySpace. Twitter had 9.3 million unique U.S. visitors in March, according to comScore Media Metrix. Twitter is growing rapidly: March numbers increased 131 percent from February.
“With any new topic or hot item, a lot of companies rush to it because they think it’s trendy,” said Brian Breslin, a social media strategy consultant and CEO of infinimedia in Coconut Grove. “Or their boss sees it in the Wall Street Journal and thinks, ‘Oh, we need an iPhone app.’ But they don’t really know why.”
Breslin and other consultants preach that businesses need to have a social network strategy before jumping blindly into a network. He sees many mistakes being made by companies that don’t engage properly with the network’s users.
“If you get on there, you need to be willing and ready to respond to people. There are many tools out there to help you do it, but it’s really not that hard. You can just look for mentions of your company and start responding to those people,” Breslin said.
For example, companies can use Twitter to respond to customer service issues and to troubleshoot, which is what Comcast does on its Twitter account ComcastCares.
Businesses can survey consumers through Twitter and Facebook just by asking for feedback. And, in some cases, there is money to be made. Dell reported that its Twitter account DellOutlet, which started in January 2008 and alerts followers of sales and coupons, generated more than $1 million in revenue for that year.