Being an English major, my first instinct when beginning this post was to research the topic and then write about it. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t need to. This is one of those topics I can write about solely by observing what goes on around me. My discovery? Traditional businesses near my campus (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) are employing social networking sites on a daily basis, and no offense, but Indiana, PA is certainly not the tech hub of the universe. Wired (and wireless) college students have taken over this small town and the businesses here have realized that potential customers are only a friend request away. Here are a few examples of traditional businesses employing social networking technology:
- Wolfendales, a popular bar for IUP students, sends Myspace friend requests out to pretty much everyone in the area. I got one my first semester on campus. They write bulletins informing patrons of special events and post comments inviting everyone to come out.
- Copper Beech, a community of townhomes (mostly occupied by students) sends Facebook friend requests to IUP students. They keep those who accept updated on open houses and other special events.
- The Penn (our college newspaper) runs a web site where the print stories are posted. They invite readers to comment and discuss the stories after they’ve been published.
If businesses are embracing the social web with success here, imagine what could be done in Harrisburg! A vast population of Central Pennsylvanians are on Facebook and Myspace. Some write blogs. Many are also starting to flock to Twitter, a mini-blogging/update service. Traditional businesses would be wise to establish an online presence for themselves on all of these platforms, blogs especially. A company blog allows a business to become more transparent and show that there are, in fact, humans running the show. When you become more personable, you earn more trust. If you’re still unsure, ask yourself these three questions:
- “Do I want my business to interact with current and past customers?”
- “Do I want my business to reach out to potential customers and the community in general?”
- “Do I want my business to keep up with the times?”
If you’ve answered yes to all three, it’s time for your business to devise a serious social networking strategy.