A network with solutionsPosted: December 5, 2011 | |
By Michelle Burke and Matt Arias
In our current society, big businesses overrule the corporate population. With so many small businesses trying to get noticed, it is difficult for them to bring in clients when larger companies are overruling online advertisements. Thanks to improvements in social media, smaller businesses now have more of a chance in getting their name out to the public and bringing in more clients. The problem being, small businesses are either not familiar in how to use social media to advertise their business, or simply do not have the time to do so. That is where the solution comes in: a Network for Solutions. Network for Solutions is a small, local marketing firm that provides solutions for small businesses in how to successfully advertise themselves online through social media.
Network for Solutions began with the smart idea of two young men, Adam Camara and Brian Hickey. After both founders worked for larger online marketing corporations, they realized that their methods in helping clients were unsuccessful. If these marketing companies did have any success, it was only in helping larger businesses who already had a strong name out in the world and needed little advertising help. Seeing the consistent failure in progression for small businesses, the two men decided to create their own firm, one that was client-focused and provided actual solutions to small businesses. As Adam Camara stated in our interview, Network for solutions was created as a firm to “provide small businesses with solutions and a level of service that they need in this new digital age”. With this idea in mind, the two founders began to do just that.
With both men striving to help get their local, small businesses the attention they deserved, they agreed the easiest way to do so was to begin by getting a companies online brand known. After creating their own website, social media, and purchasing their own online brand, “Network for Solutions”, in the year 2008 when they began the company, Adam and Brian found their first client. They located clients when they first began by using the yellow pages and typing the companies’ names into major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When they noticed a company’s name did not show up first, or they didn’t even have a website, Brian and Adam called them to offer their services. Many companies rejected their offers, but a few accepted, including their first client.
The company was “Campbell Heating and Air”, a Massachusetts HVAC company based out of Littleton, MA. Brian and Adam spoke with the owners of the company and learned that the company had no knowledge of social media, and had a very basic website that did not show up in search results for local HVAC companies. Accepting their offer, “Campbell Heating and Air” was able to get their name out on the Internet and the effective responses were seen almost immediately.
Like what was done with “Campbell Heating and Air”, Network for Solutions has a way to get businesses known online and to get positive results for their clients. After either calling or emailing a company offering their services, Brian and Adam offer an introductory webinar to those possible clients interested in Network for Solutions. The hour long webinar begins with Brian and Adam’s client analysis; an analysis of what the company does, how it benefits the public, and what they have or have not done to help make themselves known online. After the analysis, Network for Solutions explains their services to the possible clients. This is also explained on their website through the company’s carefully thought out case studies. The visual case studies and services are explained to clients, and show that by using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and buying a domain name, all will help market their businesses to people in the public who are interested in their brand. It also helps them come up in the “Organic Zone”, or top few results in search engine pages.
After a webinar, most clients accept the non-contract binding services of Network for Solutions. The majority of the companies’ first clients are still with them today since the firm began. All of the clients, new or old, have seen an increase in business within the first two months of being helped by Network for Solutions. Of all clients, about 93 percent of them stay with Network for Solutions for over a year. In such a competitive online marketing field, I asked Adam how they manage to keep brining in new cliental. He responded by saying that although they perform some cold calling and email blasts, “.We market ourselves heavily online. We have our own social media that we use to market ourselves to small business and anyone who wants to learn about us. We also get a large number of new clients by referral from our existing clients”. By using social media, Adam and Brian are able to get Network for Solutions the attention it needs to grow as a company. Their Facebook page is updated daily, and the more “Likes” they receive, the more people are helping to promote their business. The two founders are also active on LinkedIn, where they can connect with current clients and potential new clients. By marketing themselves, Network for Solutions has a greater chance of success.
As any company does, Network for Solutions has changed since it originated about three years ago. As Adam stated, “As the growth of the Internet increases, we have to grow with it”. Social media services have expanded with the Internet, meaning Network for Solutions has had to expand as well. Instead of just sending email blasts like they did in the beginning, they now have access to any Social Media site, bringing attention from people that may not have been accessible to small businesses just a few years ago. With more social media sites comes more to manage on Network for Solution’s behalf. The company has created their own social media department that handles all of the social media for each client. Network for Solutions updates clients’ Facebook pages, Twitter, and blogs. If a client would like to do some social media on their own, Network for Solutions allows them to have free access to do so.
Network for Solutions has a great number of clients, all of which have multiple social media sites to manage. In order to keep up with these sites and keep all of their clients satisfied with the business we are offering them, we had a recommendation for the business owners. A service like HootSuite, a social media management site, allows users to put all of their social media into one site, combing them all. Users can schedule Tweets and Facebook statuses weeks in advance. This allows companies to set up social media ahead of time, while still being active on their sites. Adam and Brian have heard of the site before, but never used it. They said they would definitely look into it, as it sounds a lot easier than dedicating so much time to separate social media sites.
With social media growing at such a rapid pace, small businesses can have trouble keeping up. With the help of Network for Solutions, small companies can now have a chance in getting them advertised online in a successful way. We offered the idea of using HootSuite to help make the social media management for all clients easier and more organized for Network for Solutions. We also liked the fact that Network for Solutions is small and local to Boston, showing their true dedication to helping small businesses succeed.
Before the Internet, there were much less ways to interact with people. The telephone was our modern-day’s Facebook; the main place for gossip and catching up with friends, family, and acquaintances. There used to be the method of meeting a friend somewhere and talking in person, or sending a letter via mail. Although these methods of communication are still in tact today, the introduction of social media to the world has forever shaken the foundations of human communication. Social media is extremely helpful and useful. It allows people, groups of friends, organizations, and others to stay in touch and to plan meetings and events instantly, all without even having to actually meet up.
This saves time, and in today’s economy, it even saves gas money. Social media is also helpful for when a friend or family member travels into a foreign land and can’t use a cell phone because there is no reception. In most cases, Facebook or Twitter is available for instant communication between a friend in a foreign land and someone at home who is dying to communicate with them. Social media can be a useful tool for reporting events, such as breaking news, seen most recently in the trend of “citizen journalists”; average everyday people that use cameras and social media to report on news that they are a part of. For example, the United States Navy Seal mission to kill Osama Bin Laden was not completely unknown to the world. A man in Abbottabad, Pakistan began Tweeting about the noises he heard, and soon his Tweets received an extraordinary amount of attention. Because of this, some people had prior knowledge to what exactly was going on.
Social media is extremely useful to businesses, small and large. There are plenty of businesses that use Facebook and a Twitter in order to promote their business and/or alert the world of updates regarding their business. Many companies today have social media policies and statements, which tend to address issues that their company might face if one of their employees were to conduct themselves in an inappropriate manner using social media. Famous musicians, actors, athletes, and even Hollywood movies have social media sites. For example, Taylor Swift’s Facebook page is used by her crew and Taylor herself, all to promote her tour, new singles, and new products, such as a fragrance. Her page has over ten million “likes”, and is one of the most popular pages on Facebook. She also has a Twitter, which she uses constantly to show pictures of her tour, and to alert her followers of upcoming award shows in which she is nominated for. There is, however, the argument that social media sites such as these mentioned are effectively ruining the art of face-to-face conversation. However, the ability to converse with someone else face-to-face is gained through practice and it is all up to that specific person.
Whether positive or negative, social media is getting enough attention. However, there is always room for more credibility. The most popular websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have received a fine amount of attention. These sites have the most users and are arguably the most effective sites as far as connecting directly to friends and family. There are plenty of other social media sites that most certainly deserve some more attention, being Klout, Tumblr, and Google+ just to name a few.
In order to make the best of social media websites, you must have a good, solid interacting experience with whoever it is you are trying to interact or connect with. Using social media to interact online is simple, and even easier once you get more acquainted with the sites. Each social media website has its own way of allowing users to communicate with one another, but the previously mentioned websites such as Facebook and Twitter are quite possibly the easiest to use. Writing to somebody on Facebook can be compared to writing a shorter, less sophisticated e-mail. It involves the same concept of finding whom you would like to write to, writing the desired message, and clicking “send.” Twitter also has a similar concept, as interacting with someone is as simple as writing a message (in 140 characters or less) and clicking the “Tweet” button. The simplicity of communicating makes any site user-friendly, and makes interacting with others that much easier.
With all the talk about the social media sights, it is easy to get caught up in the buzz without knowing the answer to one important question: What does social media really do? It assists in communication, organization, friend finding, and much more. Social media is and has been rapidly shaping the way people get in touch with those whom they haven’t been in touch with in years, and whom they just spoke to recently. It does undergo changes, such as the changes Facebook goes through, but it’s only a matter of time before most users become satisfied with their social media site again. Social media is revolutionizing the way we interact with each other, the way we put our opinions out into the world, and the way we virtually live our lives. It has become a part of our culture, and can only improve from here.