Some Iowa businesses ban employees from accessing social networking websites and other media tools like Twitter while they’re at work, but one expert says that could be a costly mistake. Drew McLellan, owner of Des Moines-based McLellan Marketing Group and one of the world’s top 50 marketing bloggers, says sites like Facebook and MySpace can lead to a loss in productivity, but they can also be important avenues used to reach a much wider spectrum of potential clients.
“They see their employees playing on them, in air quotes, and assume that there’s no business that can be done there,” McLellan says. “What they’re missing is the fact that literally millions of people are gathering on those places and some of those people are your customers or your prospects.”
While some people are squirting each other with virtual water guns and are catching up with long-lost chums, McLellan says social networking websites also offer much more than just socializing. He suggests business owners need to be savvy before restricting employees.
“Long before there was MySpace or Facebook, there was eBay and other things you could do online that had nothing to do with work,” McLellan says. “It really comes down to having a culture where, A) you trust your employees and, B) you know your employees are finding a balance between personal business and work.”
He says social media can allow a business to focus on a very specific audience. Recently, he says they were able to help out a client who wanted to reach people in three particular ZIP codes in Iowa, and it could be done fairly easily via social media. “We were able to micro-target down that small and run some information and some advertising that was targeted to just those three ZIP codes,” McLellan says. “That’s pretty effective marketing when you can get down to that sort of sophistication.”
When the Internet first became popular, it was a challenge for businesses to draw people to their websites. Now, he says, you can market a product or service through a place like Facebook and go where the people are already gathering. For more, see McLellan’s blog here.