The true, hidden power of social networking sites/services is driven from the client/prospect side. Tapping into it won’t cost you a penny. Think of these sites as the ultimate word-of-mouth engine. Here’s an example:
I recently attended a demonstration of Co-Construct, www.coconstruct.com, a project management tool. It has all of the job-logging and communications management features you’d expect from this kind of service, with one important twist: Co-Construct allows your client to post a job photo to his or her Facebook account. Now, instead of just you and the client viewing the photo, your client may have 10 friends who each have 10 friends who all share that photo with 10 friends. It could be seen by several thousand people, many of whom will be in your market area. And you didn’t have to do anything but provide the photo.
Tag, You’re It
And what about this: Instead of just a sterile picture of a kitchen being installed, how about a picture of you with the happy family in their new kitchen? Facebook lets you “tag” people (and pets) in a photo and then search on those tags. By controlling the picture’s content a little, you’re no longer a stranger. You’re officially connected to those clients via the photo.
Using Facebook, it will be easy for the friend of a friend to find, qualify, and contact you. And this all originated from your client, was targeted to a group of potential customers, and didn’t cost you a penny or require you to “spam” anyone.
Making a Mark
Now add this: In the right-hand corner of any picture you distribute, overlay a small, inconspicuous watermark with your logo, Web address, and phone number (easily accomplished with any photo-editing package.) You’ve added what amounts to a call to action and all the contact info necessary, without any Web ads or telemarketing. And it’s still coming from your client, not directly from you. You don’t even need your own Facebook page to gain the benefit (although you’ll want one, just to figure out how everything works in the social networking world).
Bottom line: The names of popular social networking services will come and go, but the concept of connecting people electronically is here to stay. Learn to leverage these services to your advantage.
—Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant and the director of builder operations for Dynami Solutions. Reach him online at www.joestoddard.com.