The critics—the really hardcore ones—always tell you everything is dead and that the future is all that matters. Sometimes, they are right—the ones who predicted typewriters would be phased out by computers hit the mark pretty well. Sometimes, they aren’t so accurate, such as the music critics who figured synthesizers and turntables would eradicate guitars and drums. Now, “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” games might have helped, but in any case, the critics ate their words. Predicting the future like you were an evolutionist is tough, and knowing what will really last in our society is hard to guess.
Today, the critics are going after traditional media as being the next victims for the deathwatch. Celluloid cinema has left use in favor of 3D video-produced epics and multimedia installations, while 2D, third-person video games are now first-person, 3D shoot-em-ups. The message seems to be clear: if you want to get hip to the world, you have to get interactive, especially through media channels.
This might sound daunting and even downright depressing if you are involved with online business. After all, you just want to sell your products to clients and not necessarily get too personal with them. But this isn’t necessarily possible or realistic. Being interactive with clients in online business just means you have established communication channels where they can participate, provide their own ideas and get feedback from you. Being interactive in online business just means better client relationships. That’s it.
The best way to facilitate more interaction with online business clients is investigating social media platforms. Even today, this is the fastest, cheapest, most informal way to allow clients to communicate with you. It can be fun, too. There are loads of social media sites out there—some best suited for small-business social media—and there are new social media sites popping up regularly. Finding a good one allows you to find the best arena for client-to-business or business-to-client interactions.
Once you’ve found your best social media web site(s) and set up an account, you should have a game plan as to what you are going to put on it. Social media web sites are designed to be interactive, so the material you put up is less formal than the stuff on your company’s web sites. Videos are great, banner ads even more, and, of course, a good promotion or announcement is worthwhile. You are allowed a bit more creative freedom with social media to be interactive, as you can use more expressive designs and humorous content. Creating the feeling of casual interaction with clients makes your material look more attractive and like something that the public would like to be part of.
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Creating forums for clients to put their two cents into is the next logical step. On your social media sites, there should be places where clients can post their own thoughts or comments about your business. Creating a separate social media blog for this is helpful—you can post your material, and the public has the chance to respond to it. Now, this is, like social media itself, a more informal client-communication tool, but for both the social media web site and the social media blog, don’t forget to maintain your professional disposition. No doubt, you are going to get a few online jokers placing less-than-constructive commentary or a few critics doing some blasting on your forums. They can do this stuff just fine, but you cannot. Part of getting interactive with the public is being interactive as a mature, good-listening professional who is truly interested in the communication itself. You can only achieve this by being professional and remembering that for every bad bit of interaction you get, there are usually 50 better ones. Interaction with clients in online marketing should be fun and useful to you, so try to maximize it to this idea all the time.
Critics are critics, and they have a job. Occasionally, it’s worth listening to them, and especially in this day and age, getting interactive with clients is a good idea, for sure. By taking in criticism, you make strong contacts and keep your business strong.
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