Your business as seen from the moon

Facebook. Twitter, Linkedin. Stumble it, Digg it, Delicious it? About 1 billion people use the Internet, and 500 million are Facebook members. Like other social networking sites, it’s free and encourages its members to post, comment and, most importantly, react to what others have posted. While there are a myriad of networks, each with unique qualities, let’s just talk about some tips on the hows and whys of successfully positioning your company online. Many small companies and a host of start-ups may want to use online marketing tools like Facebook, but they aren’t sure what to watch out for or even how to begin.

Below are just a few questions you may ask yourself before you walk down this road. There are plenty more, but these are a good set with which to start:

1. Will I open myself up to a slew of negative “comments” on a group page, even though I hear that critical comments legitimize the positive ones?
2. How “accessible” is my product to consumers? Will I spend too much time explaining what it is and why folks should care?
3. If I build it, will they come? How can I guarantee a following once I’ve created this company fan page? If no one “likes” the page, won’t that just hurt my brand?

Align your company goals with a human mission
It’s called Cause Marketing. Show your customers you are a business made up of neighbors who care about what’s happening down the street or even across the ocean. One good example of how a large company can generate experiential marketing value is the Pennies for the Planet campaign made possible by the Audubon Society and Toyota. No, this has nothing to do with cars. Toyota took an opportunity to cement a relationship with Audubon and show it’s more than just a car company. Toyota demonstrated that it is a moral leader and good steward of the Earth, as well as families and children by extension. In part, using Facebook as a marketing tool, the Pennies campaign attracts visitors to its page to “like” it and follow along as they’re provided with more information on how kids are helping to protect wildlife and habitat.

Kid’s Fundraising Efforts Will Help Protect Migrating Wildlife
NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Kids around the country are gearing up for the third season of Pennies for the Planet, an environmental education and action campaign to protect wildlife and habitat. Pennies for the Planet is made possible by support from TogetherGreen, an Audubon initiative – in alliance with Toyota. This year’s program focuses on how to protect migrating wildlife and the habitats they depend on.

Your business, as seen from the moon
So yes, the reason for going into or maintaining a business is to make a profit. But as we all know, if you are one of 12 companies around the world that manufactures a widget, virtually indistinguishable from the other 11, then you may have a marketing problem should you want to expand your customer base.

As “all politics is local,” so, too, is business. Assess the relationship between your company and its customers. Being a good corporate citizen has never been more important for companies that can see their products hyped or devalued at the drop of a Tweet or a simple Facebook status update.