The Social Media Platform

Social media has encompassed our world and lifestyles. Not only is social media used for personal reasons, but now businesses have put their mark on social media. Marketing via social media is a great way for businesses to get connected with a vast amount of people at the same time. It creates communication among consumers and has the potential to attract new ones. One of the main benefits of using social media is that it is free and easy to use. All you basically have to do is create a profile and let the marketing begin! Keep in mind that content is key to having a successful social media campaign. If your content is not interesting or useful, you will have no luck with social media.

Social media allows you to share, network, publish, and discuss. Although social media has these benefits for businesses, it is hard to decide which ones to use. There are so many social media outlets to choose from that it can get confusing. Let’s take a look at the most popular social media networks and what benefits they provide.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn sets the stage for networking with business professionals. It allows you to personally brand your business and market yourself to others within your industry. It is also a great outlet for providing knowledgeable content that informs and educates users. Lead generation is the most valuable outcome of using LinkedIn.

Facebook: Facebook has more than half a billion users, making it a great way to share a message and reach a large amount of people simultaneously. It opens up a communication portal and creates social interaction. Facebook works great as a promotional tool. You can promote your products, services, and events to a mass audience, giving your business the opportunity to expand. Frequent and interesting posts will help to keep users attracted to your business.

Twitter: Twitter is your outbound messaging tool. It consists of tweeting 140 characters or less messages to users. These tweets are short and concise, creating a social buzz. This buzz creates interaction with users. While you are tweeting it exposes your business and brand, and then you get to hear who is talking about you and what they are saying. Twitter is all about listening to others through feedback.

YouTube: Known as the largest video sharing community, YouTube is also a marketing and advertising tool. It gets an informative and positive message right in front of existing and/or potential customers. Creating and sharing a video on YouTube provides the opportunity to share knowledge, market products, show off expertise, and connect with users. Videos that are compelling and entertaining will catch the attention of users, also creating interaction for your business.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I will admit that I finally signed up for Twitter a week ago, so I am a few years behind. I didn’t really understand the importance of Twitter until I hopped on the bandwagon. I was confused by all the hash marks and other symbols, that I didn’t recognize how powerful Twitter is as a business and marketing tool. Using 140 characters or less, Twitter can help any business promote and share its marketing efforts to a vast amount of people. Since Twitter is one of the largest social media outlets in the world, it has also become a new form of communication. Twitter is used to share content. Businesses want to share content to attract potential customers. So here’s a crazy idea: businesses can share their content on Twitter to attract customers to their company.

Twitter may seem confusing at first, but it is actually easy to use and provides many benefits to businesses.

Here are some of the benefits Twitter can bring to businesses:

  • Free and easy to set up
  • Can impact search rankings
  • Drive traffic to your business website
  • Can be used check competitors accounts to see what they are sharing and who they are following
  • Target the people you want to target in relation to your business
  • Twitter search allows you to follow relevant conversations, trends, and people
  • Hear feedback about your business from the content you share and conversations you start

Those are just a few benefits Twitter provides for businesses and marketers. Twitter also allows you to unleash your creative side. You can customize your profile, add a picture, and create a descriptive bio. Creativity combined with interesting and knowledgeable tweets will allow any business to be successful on Twitter. So the question is: to tweet or not to tweet? I will let you decide.

Inbound Marketing Overview

Traditional marketing has been centered around companies taking action to initiate a conversation, meaning companies are focused on finding customers. This is done by sending out a message to an audience through TV commercials, print ads, and cold calling. This form of marketing is called outbound marketing and it is starting to lose its effectiveness. We now have technologies like spam filtering, caller id, Tivo, and other measures to block out these outbound marketing techniques. It is also costly to create outbound marketing messages and difficult to track how successful or unsuccessful the campaign was.

We live in a world where things change everyday. Even the way we market has changed immensely. We have turned away from our traditional forms of marketing and have adapted something different called inbound marketing. This new form of marketing is centered around being found by customers. Companies that participate in inbound marketing take the stress of hoping the money they spent on expensive ads will somehow attract some new customers. Companies using inbound marketing utilize techniques such as writing a blog, creating a YouTube video, and constructing a presence via social media to draw customers in.

Inbound marketing is an efficient way to attract customers. It is less costly than outbound marketing, especially since many social media outlets are free to use. It also allows for more accurate targeting. Instead of sending a message to a large amount of people, inbound marketing allows messages to be formed specifically to certain people that you want to hear the message. The secret to a valuable inbound marketing campaign is through content and communication. If a company focuses on useful and confident content, people will find it and like it. Communication is also key to creating a conversation with potential customers because it could turn into a beneficial business relationship.

Blogging for Your Business

I never really knew or understood what the purpose of a blog was until I started writing blog entries. I used to think blogs were just for individuals who wrote about their lives, sort of like an online journal. But little did I know that businesses also use blogs to try to increase traffic and search rankings. Business blogs produce a wealth of information about a variety of topics. They are one of the key ingredients to a successful internet marketing plan.

Business blogs are a form of social media that is a communication mechanism used to create and build relationships. Content is key when initiating a blog for your business. Online users are eager to dive into information that is meaningful and engaging. Blogging also allows a business to have a personality. It gives customers a chance to get to know a business on a different level. This also gives businesses a chance to hear feedback that they probably normally wouldn’t hear. Feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is beneficial for a business because it produces interaction. Businesses need interaction to start the communication process.

Blogs are a fun way to share important content and information to customers. A blog will give a business a personality, express creativity, and produce a positive business culture.

Dell’s Three C’s of Sustainable Packaging

Dell’s focus on sustainability has established the electronics giant as a leader in the green movement. Back in December of 2008, Dell announced a plan to transform computer packaging by adding recycled content (32%). By 2012, Dell hopes to achieve its goal of increasing the recycled content in its packaging by 40%. To do this, the company is implementing a strategy based on three C’s: Cube, Content, and Curbside.

Cube
Reducing the size of product packaging so it is more efficient, from the size of the boxes that hold product components to the number of items that can be moved per shipping pallet. In one example, Dell optimized the packaging for its Inspiron laptop so that the number of computers per pallet increased from 54 to 63.

Content
As previously stated, Dell is ramping up the amount of recycled contents that go into their packaging. For heavier products that require sturdier support, the company has increased the use of recycled foam versus using virgin product. Dell has also increased the use of post-consumer recycled plastics, integrating the equivalent of more than 9.5 million half-gallon milk jugs into its packaging.

Also, Dell has been using bamboo as a strong and compostable alternative to the molded paper pulp, foams, and corrugated cardboard often used in packaging.

Curbside
Ensuring that their packaging is curbside recyclable is that last piece of Dell’s green packaging strategy. Dell increasingly chooses materials that can be tossed in the recycling bin such as post-consumer plastics and molded paper pulp.

Bamboo is still not accepted by many municipal recyclers for curbside pickup however, Dell is working with Georgia Pacific, Unisource Global Services, and Environmental Packaging International in an effort to certify its bamboo packaging for recycling.

Dell outlines the three C’s strategy in their 2010 Corporate Responsibility Summary Report (PDF)