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How Facebook Can Drive Sales and Donations

How Facebook Can Drive Sales and Donations

Francine Kizner, Entrepreneur

Still, instant access is important when you have questions that need immediate answers. And knowing when and how your brand is being mentioned is key for reacting to problems quickly and providing proactive customer service.

“The notion of customer outreach is changing,” says Dan Burkhart, vice president of marketing at Flock. “It’s not about managing a forum on your site anymore. It’s about finding where your community exists instead of waiting for your community to come to you.”

Though RSS and social networks are relatively new ways to tap into your community, more traditional and personal social media such as e-mail and instant messaging still play large roles in how we communicate. Digsby, a desktop IM, e-mail and social media aggregator, is one way for those who don’t spend much time in their browser to keep connected.

“Because it’s an IM client, something people have running all day, it saves the time of constantly having to check up on your networks,” Digsby founder Steve Shapiro says.

Whether they’re in your browser or on your desktop, you’ll notice that these programs act primarily as notification providers rather than social networking site replacements. Many notifications and actions you try to take from an aggregation app will still bring you back to a social site to leave a comment or add a friend.

This is in part because of the walled-in nature of many social sites, whose revenue streams rely heavily on display ads that require high traffic numbers. And though there have been steps toward more open and standardized platforms, such as OpenID, they haven’t gained wide reach yet. “Social networks need to realize they can’t keep everybody just on their network,” Durwin says. “The average person on the internet has at least three social networks.”

As social sites and aggregation tools mature, there is hope for more fully integrated social media dashboards where we can connect openly across platforms, measure impact and ROI more easily, and truly consolidate our social media efforts to focus on relationships and customer outreach, not platforms.

“Our sense right now is that social sites are like venues, but those aren’t fundamental to the relationship equation,” says Minggl’s Gaedcke. And by using any tools that can help you better focus on connecting with your customers, no matter where they are online, you’ll be able to better establish relationships, create rapport and build your brand.

Tools: Social Media Aggregators