Demographics in the New Century

5 ways to reach your customers online

If you haven't already done so, it's time to face the facts. Your customers are online and they're using social media. Here's what many of them are doing - connecting with their friends on Facebook, chatting up brands on Twitter, and spending quality time with companies through videos on YouTube. They are writing and reading blogs, listening to and participating in podcasts, and connecting on LinkedIn. Want to reach them? You can if you're at the right places.

Social media and options can seem overwhelming, says Lisa Wehr, CEO and founder of Oneupweb, a digital marketing agency. But she says by taking the time to do your research, you can choose the networks that are right for you and your audience. Here, according to Wehr, are five different social networking tools that you should understand. These can help you reach customers.

  • Social sharing sites. Think YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr. Users share information of all forms on these types of sites, including written reviews, videos, photos, and more. You should know what's being shared about your franchise, and also jump in and start spreading this type of content about your location. YouTube is the second most popular search engine for a reason - your customers want this kind of information. So go ahead, give them what they want.
  • Social networking sites. Think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace. Basically, these sites build communities of users that share a common interest, hobbies, high school, favorite brands, you name it. They serve as a means for people to meet new people and to stay connected with friends, families, their favorite brands, and others. They also allow businesses to connect with other businesses or individuals. Communication is a huge part of social networking sites and includes tools such as email, instant messaging, and real-time posts on an individual's profile. Social networking sites are really where you get to connect with your customers.
  • Social news sites. Think Digg, Technorati, and Reddit. These sites allow users to share newsworthy information with other users. People submit photos, videos, news articles, blog posts, and more for others to view. Often, other users can vote on which pieces of newsworthy information they like most. The submissions with the most votes will usually appear on the social news site's front page, increasing the chances others will see it. So do you have a press release or a news article about your brand or a specific franchise unit you want to share? These are the places to do it.
  • Social bookmarking sites. Think Delicious, Diigo, BlinkList, and Simpy. These sites allow users to organize, search, and manage their favorite web pages online. Users can make their bookmarks public or choose to share them with just a few specific individuals or groups. Why not bookmark your website and social profiles?
  • Social review sites. Think Epinions, Viewpoints, Yelp, Omgili, and Buzzillions. These sites give consumers a platform to be heard. Users can submit reviews on specific products and companies, including advice, testimonials, and personal recommendations. It's important for you to monitor what is being said about your franchise on this site, and respond when appropriate. Don't worry, it's often good stuff. And when did it ever hurt to hear a little good news?

The key for you, as a franchisee, is to determine where your target audience is online. Where do they go online and how often? Think of this as old-fashioned demographics with a 21st century twist. Some great places to find demographics include Quantcast and Oneupweb's Pretty Good Scenario Survival Guide: Social Media, available at Once you figure this out you are on your way to beginning a successful social media marketing campaign.

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