Taking Your Business Online: Tips for Building Stronger Relationships

As the Internet becomes an even bigger role in our everyday lives and the stability of our businesses it is important to understand the web and how it influences our relationships and more importantly those relationships with our clients. JB Communications offers its advice on how to utilize this effective tool for your business.

John Beilharz, President JB Communications

John Beilharz, President JB Communications

Web 2.0 was coined by Dary CiNucci, an electronic information design consultant. It made its first appearance in 1999 as a new version of the World Wide Web, one that allowed users to interact and collaborate with one another. This gave way for content like social media sites, virtual communities and user-generated content. This shifted away from the previous version of the World Wide Web, which was a passive medium where people could read and write but not interact. Now the Internet has become a way of life for some. With virtual worlds, online dating, social media sites, blogs, wikis and mashups, people now use the Internet to form and maintain personal relationships as well as express themselves creatively and emotionally. The Internet is now a platform that people use to receive information but also share it, develop new ideas and create a personal identity. The use of organic relationships is not the norm anymore, it is now important to be able to express and form relationships online before meeting in person.

Part of Web 2.0 is the development of virtual communities, which are social networks, where people interact through social media and can cross geographical and political boundaries in order to experience or pursue a mutual interest or goal. Most known are the communities with virtual worlds like the game “Second Life.” Here players create their own “avatars,” an alter ego or characters that are users graphical representation of themselves. This avatar is controlled by the user in a virtual world where they interact with others online in a 3-D format. It is similar to a computer game, yet there is no objective for the players. They simply live out their lives online, maintaining online jobs that can be exchanged for real world monetary value, they engage in intimate relationships and socialize with one another on a daily basis. These virtual communities can work across space, time and organizational boundaries. These individuals rely heavily on the Internet and its social function, where some identify solely with this “avatar.” The sanctions of this attitude can lead to many negative effects but we can see how the Internet has impacted our attitudes about others, our reality and ourselves. Using social media like “Second Life,” people can alter their financial and emotional state that may not have been possible without this type of interaction. Stories of marriage and business success all surround this type of existence.

When using the Internet it is important to remember how it can forge personal, lasting relationships as well as cross space and time unlike anything else. Social networks are some of the best marketing tools, which are free to its users and businesses. If used correctly and consistently, they can be utilized to connect people that would not have the opportunity without a platform that can break the continuum of space and time as well as political and geographical boundaries.

Tips for Using Social Media for Your Business

1. Offer a inside look into your business 
In order to gain trust online it is important to make the user feel like part of your business. Show them new products and promotions and this will help build demand.

2. Demonstrate what your company does 
Show your company’s value, make it sincere and use it beyond words (use videos, interactive media, etc.)

3. Be careful what you say about others
Always show your company as being positive and trustworthy. Stay away from name-calling.

4. Interact with visitors 
This is what Web 2.0 is all about. In order to be successful respond to you visitors, create a blog and keep the conversation going.

5. Don’t pretend to be someone else 
People can easily identify a fake review or a fluffed-up identity. Keep it real, honest and consistent.

6. Reward customer loyalty
Everyone likes to be appreciated, that’s the key to lasting relationships. So, reward your loyal customers with promotions or coupons and they will keep coming back.

7. See what people are saying about you 
Go to review sites and find out information about your reputation and if it’s not all flattering, see why and make efforts to fix it!

8. Reach more markets 
Social media is the best way to reach multiple markets at a time. Branch out and try and reach people that may not be your target demographic.

9. Find ways to engage visitors offline 
Attract your visitors to other events or happenings. Because although you forged an initial relationship online you can build support within your community if you additionally engage them offline.

10. Find influential people in your industry 
People trust the people that leaders in the industry trust. Look for what is buzzing online, what people are talking about and become part of the discussion. You will soon be an influencer in the larger discussion.