Internet networking is widely recognised as the future of
marketing, but is it really as good as some people make us

The internet adds a new dimension to sales and
marketing. Web-based online marketing, via viral campaigns,
networking groups, business forums and blogs, is massive. Add in
social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo,
Linked-In, Xing, and all of a sudden you have countless places to
promote your business.

No one would have believed a few years ago
that a cosmetic surgery business could generate all of its business
via a few video clips on YouTube, Nike would launch a new trainer
via Facebook, or LinkedIn would have 48 million members

At a basic level, we all have a website and
e-mail, the start of internet marketing. Commenting on blog sites,
having a profile on LinkedIn will help with search engine
optimisation and offer multiple touchpoints at zero cost.

Many of your customers use the internet avidly
to research companies and reading comments or blogs on the internet
enhances a company profile. Katherine Amin, of recruitment company
New Leaf Search, notes that “social networking sites are a great
way for our candidates to research individuals and for us as we can
easily track the progress and keep in contact with people in the

So, now the downside. Comments on business
forums are typically a waste of time unless you are part of a
focused discussion group on carp fishing or raising guinea pigs in
Cornwall. Many blogs are rather verbose.

How well do you really know your competitors?

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The biggest challenge is simply information
overload. Setting up, updating, replying, researching, and
commenting is a time-consuming, administration-hungry exercise, and
this is looking at business use, let alone your staff spending all
day on Facebook. Negative feedback can damage reputations, and when
the news goes viral, you cannot stop it spreading at lightning

Does the sales message even get to target
customers? Lastly, there is the real risk of backlash against
networking sites as people become bored and lose focus on the real
job at hand.

Regardless of how we interpret internet
networking, we all need to have a presence in this virtual world.
For some it may be simply making a comment on a leasing blog or
submitting details to Applegate. For others, it’s a cheap,
efficient and effective marketing tool that can be great fun.

One thing is for sure, we all need to fully
understand the benefits, pitfalls and
how to implement a web-based marketing strategy.

Jeremy Hall

The author is founder of Wyse