Staying connected to your customers requires more than just a Web presence these days. A basic Web site with some nice pictures doesn’t cut it in the age of video, blogs and social networking sites, like Facebook.
At a recent meeting of the Marine Marketers of America, held at the Miami International Boat Show, a panel of experts in the field discussed how important it is to stay up-to-date with all methods of connecting with consumers, in addition to constantly updating Web site and blogs.
Here’s some of the advice the panel had for businesses:
• There are 133 million blogs, and about 77 percent of active Internet users read blogs, according to panelist Leonard Boord of TheBoaters.com. “I think every company should start one,” he added.
• It’s important, added Jared Jester of Jester Communications, that those who start blogs follow through with them. Don’t be afraid to address your critics through your blog, he said. He recommended daily postings and moderating comments consistently.
• Post videos on YouTube, Boord said. It is one of the most-searched sites on the Internet.
• Update your Web site constantly to keep it fresh for consumers, and make it appear higher on search engines. “The more dynamic content you have, the more successful you will be, because the spiders will keep coming back,” explained Courtney Chalmers of BoatTrader.com. (An Internet spider is a program used by search engines to retrieve the locations of Web pages. When a user asks for information, the search engine pulls up pages retrieved by the spider.)
• There are 175 million users on Facebook, said Boord. It’s free for companies to start forums and invite people in to the network. Social networking is becoming increasingly important. “Facebook is becoming as important a tool as e-mail,” said Glen Justice, of MadMariner.com.
• Twitter is less than 2 years old, but it may be the fastest growing trend in staying connected. The “microblogging” site hosts abut 3 million “tweets” a day, said Boord. “2009 will be a Twitter year,” he said.
While no company can do everything, business owners should see which of these technologies works best for them and embrace it, panelists recommended.
So what do you think? Will we see more blogs and Facebook pages in the boating industry this year? Do you agree that this technology is vital to doing business these days?