5 must use social media tools for Microfinance Institutions
microfinance social media

Microfinance Focus, September 16, 2011: In today's digital age, social media websites have gain great prominence and usefulness especially for businesses. Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) should leverage on the various tools of social media available in order to create awareness among people for the cause.

The symbiotic relationship between MFIs and social media works two ways. First, it helps MFIs to communicate and organize themselves together. It makes sharing of information within the industry and easier. Also it keeps MFIs updated with what other institutions are doing. Second, it allows MFIs to reach out and relay its message to a larger group of people in order to create awareness and promote brand.

Five key social media platforms that this article will highlight will be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.

1) Facebook

Facebook is now the most popular social networking service, with more than 750 million active users since July 2011. Facebook having realized its opportunities started ‘Facebook for Business’ where companies can “learn how to grow your [their] business with Facebook’s powerful marketing tools”.

First, it allows companies to create their own Page that would help it to interact with their fans, get to know potential customers and build a community. Second, companies can put up Ads on Facebook, in order to reach their target audience by specifying the age, location, interests etc. Third, Facebook incorporate ‘by word of mouth marketing’ strategy through its Sponsored Stories, where a company can take advantage of friends talking to friends. Lastly, Facebook is a useful platform for companies to transform their website into a social experience with plug-ins and customs apps.

Create a company account on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/business

2) Twitter

Twitter is another online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read short text messages, informally known as “tweets”. As of 2011, Twitter has over 200 million users, generating over 200 million tweets and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.  ‘Twitter for Business’ helps companies optimize their activity on the social platform as well as promote their products. On its website Twitter claims that “As a business, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence and insights, and build relationships with people who care about your company. Often, there is already a conversation about your business happening on Twitter.”

Create a Twitter account for your company: http://business.twitter.com/

3) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business related social networking site, mainly use for professional networking. As of March 2011, LinkedIn reports more than 120 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries worldwide.

LinkedIn can be used to optimize your professional network. It helps to keep people in touch by reconnecting past and present colleagues and classmates quickly. Also it makes search for businesses easy when looking for a job or business opportunity. It is also a useful tool for recruitment for businesses. Through LinkedIn, one can view the Curriculum Vitae (CV) for others, and thus discover business opportunities.

LinkedIn supports the formation of interest groups. This is especially good for the microfinance sector because MFIs can join various groups and sub-groups that facilitate discussion pertinent to the industry. Therefore it helps businesses get answers and solutions to the challenges they face. In these networks, they are industry experts that can help MFIs in times of crisis.

Start exploring business opportunities with LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/

4) YouTube

YouTube, a video-sharing website that displays a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, music videos and amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos.

YouTube’s free-to-use model is easy to use to upload and share videos. It is a great channel for businesses to share information about their company. Having a YouTube account, MFIs can create and customize their own channel where they can add their company’s branding and add relevant information and links. Through their own customized channel, users can subscribe to their content to receive updates. Through their own channels, MFIs can engage with the YouTube community to create awareness and reach out to a vast audience.

MFIs will not just be limited to viewers on YouTube but on other social services and websites. YouTube’s account settings allow companies to automatically publish news of a new video when it is linked to other social services such as Twitter or Facebook. Also it allows you to embed your videos on other sites. This will expand the chances of viewership and eases the process of promoting your YouTube videos elsewhere.

Create your YouTube account: www.youtube.com

5) Flickr

Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite and online community. In August 2011, it reported that it was hosting more than 6 billion images.

Flickr is useful for businesses because it allows MFIs to share images of their projects and programs. This is important for MFIs because images more accurately documents the lives of the people their serve. Through images, MFIs can be more successful in creating awareness for themselves. Also other then just uploading images, they can tag themselves and others to share the images. MFIs can also use Flickr to search for groups that are relevant to their interests.

Use Flickr to upload photos online, discover what others are posting and share your photos with others.

Share photos with Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/


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