Social networking and online collaboration have become the basis of electronic publicity for creative practitioners. For example, Facebook alone allows you to communicate to the masses what you are doing, what events are taking place, and what achievements or recognitions you have been received, etc. Relevant newspaper articles and other print media pertaining to your practice can be scanned and uploaded to your profile or added to status updates, allowing clients and potential clients to view your accomplishments within minutes of publication. Through this and other means, you can create a “buzz” about your creative practice.

Whether on- or offline, the ultimate advantages of networking are growing sales, leads and forming strategic alliances. Yet social networking has many more advantages to help you grow your business. You just need to learn the right techniques.

Social networking opens up new business opportunities all over the world. It can be daunting to dive into the virtual meet-and-greet world but don’t be put off, the advantages are numerous:

Accessibility. In many ways, social media levels the playing field for businesses as it is accessible to everyone, regardless of company size, turnover and contacts.

Range. There is a wide range of social media sites and tools you can use to be more interactive: communicating and exchanging information with customers. This number is growing every day.

Low Cost. Social media tools offer more cost-effective ways to achieve your goals. Most sites are free with the main cost being time spent on updating profiles and interacting with contacts.

Marketing opportunities. You can use social media to create and distribute content and promotional material, such as articles, videos and audio – and all for a fraction of the money it would cost for this content to appear in the press, on the radio or on TV.

SEO. Distributing content via social media provides you with more opportunities to entice others to visit and link to your website. This is a great way to enhance your organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) authority.

Research. You can research your competition, customers, or partners.

Collaboration. Easy connections with colleagues, customers, and industry thought leaders, allows you to source feedback, test ideas and manage customer services quickly and directly online in ways not available via traditional media.

Instant communication. Through social media, you can communicate information instantly, regardless of geographical location. If a piece of content goes viral, there is no limit to the amount of people it could potentially reach, all at no extra cost to you.

Building relationships. You can gain return customers and receive referrals by marketing the skills as well as services you offer via social networking.

Measurability. With social media, you can test marketing messages and approaches, gauge user responses and tweak the message accordingly. This is done through the ever-growing number of free, easy-to-use social media measurement tools including Facebook insights and Google analytics.

Increased traffic and subscriber rates. Having a database of subscribers to your newsletter or regular updates is a huge asset.

Word of mouth referrals. The most valuable lead in business is that which has been reinforced through word of mouth from your loyal brand advocates.

Creating a profile. You can benefit tremendously from a social networking profile that contains all the pertinent information that users need in order to evaluate your business.  Your profile may include pictures of you, your team, products, completed projects, as well as logos and contact information.

Effortless messaging. By targeting large audiences with a single click, messages and updates can be sent to all of your followers; just one of the many facets of social networking.

Opportunity to reward loyal customers by providing incentives. You can provide contests, games, and prizes for clients who participate at a reasonably low cost.

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