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Social Networks = Business --Morgan

December 2008
THE DAYS of the passive print buyer lie in the past. Print buyers are no longer sitting back and waiting for printer reps to cold call them or invite them out for lunch. In today’s technological environment, consumers are more proactive than they have ever been. They actively research their options and, with the advancement of the World Wide Web, it has enabled print buyers to spread a much larger net, capturing information on potential suppliers, even international suppliers.

As Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Red Swoosh, states, “Social networks are like grease—in some cases, gasoline—for our personal business networking machines. If you aren’t plugged in, you will be out-done by better-connected, hyper-networked colleagues and competitors.”

Just think about it: We used the telephone until it became clogged with telemarketers; we used e-mails until our accounts were overcome by spammers. The new generation of communication is through the use of social networks. The popularity of social network sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Digg is growing on an exponential level.

According to a New York Times article dated October 27, 2008, a market research firm called NewDiligence recently surveyed end users and IT managers about their usage of social networking sites: 60 percent of the respondents said they use networking sites at work, and half of the respondents check in once or more every day.

Social networking sites afford vanguard print suppliers the opportunity to officially connect with all of the people they know—and then grow their networks exponentially. According to our research, printers are jumping on the bandwagon; a recent survey conducted by Print Buyers Online.com demonstrated that 45 percent of our major print supplier members currently use social networking services to attract business. 

Interestingly, even when it is not encouraged by the company, some representatives do this on their own because they are aware of what excellent marketing tools they can be. Account rep M. Evans is one of these individuals. He shared, “My company doesn’t use them, but another rep and I use LinkedIn and Twitter on our own to stay connected with clients, announce new developments and to develop leads.”

Online networks accelerate and globalize the print buying process, and establishing a network requires one part social know-how and one part technical expertise. For example, LinkedIn, which claims to have more than 20 million registered users from 150 different industries, allows users to post career accomplishments and ask for “connections” for jobs or business introductions.

 

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