Social marketing is an over simplified version of word-of-mouth advertising. The concept is you build a network of on-line friends, then deliver small bits of useful information with a goal of stimulating commerce. By itself, social marketing is a poor advertising vehicle. Online relationships don’t transcend the trust boundaries associated with giving personal referrals. It is not until a personal relationship (online or otherwise) is established that quality word-of-mouth marketing takes place.
Online social friends (we call them stranger networks) almost always have conflicting motivations for establishing a virtual bond. Business people seek direct and word-of-mouth marketing opportunities, usually without reciprocation. Stories of internet predators scare most online social marketing participants to a posture of take over give. Therefore establishing strong personal relationships is slow and difficult.
As a compliment to a well structured internet marketing plan, social marketing can be a very effective tool. As a link building tool, social marketing sites are no-cost options to gain a large number of web links with relatively little effort. Usually a two stage process, social marketing requires an initiator, to stimulate action and a catalysis to complete the link to the final destination.
When a trusting relationship does not exist, stranger networks will give a very small amount of time to investigate possibilities. Direct sales presentations (like those we build into our company websites) are not good trust building mediums. Therefore, the initiator acts as a bridge between the Personality Based Marketing vehicle and the Stranger Network.
- Start at the End
- The ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your company website. The communication path we take must take into consideration the ultimate destination. Otherwise the bread crumbs you layout for the internet searcher to follow will feel like bait leading them to a trap. Hence the concept of bait and switch.
- Research Keywords
- Your website already has a good set of keyword, use Google’s keyword tool to help you find associated keywords.
- Build Blogging Relationship
- Where you publish your blog articles is important. Find a site (or start your own site) that embraces strong business ethics and doesn’t inundate visitors with sales ads.
- Tell The World
- Especially ALL your friends. E-Mail campaigns still work, but adding social networking options can help bring pre-qualified traffic. The social networking sites on the right site of this screen are the sites we use to announce publication of new articles.
Watch For Traps
Social networking sites are designed to be VERY enticing. The natural tenancy is to be drawn into the community and before you know it, you have wasted massive amounts of time.
Building a large network of friends requires effort and you will need to participate somewhat in the online community, just be aware of the lure. Your mission is to grow your business. Connecting with past friends, co-workers from past jobs, and even family is GREAT. Facebook especially is great for keeping up with your network, but social networking is a means to an end, more business!
Being helpful gets you noticed. Always has. Yahoo Answers allows you to search for questions people want answered for which YOU have knowledge. Answer the question, avoid the direct sales pitch. If you happen to have a blog article that helps support the answer you give, then GREAT! Two birds with one stone. Yahoo Answer users then score the answers and when your received most favorable, you receive points. Build up enough points and your posts start to earn top billing. Translation: MORE WEB LINKS.
Portland Business Community
The online business community is a FREE blog site for business owners in the Portland Metro Area. Because of the increased participation by like minded people (all seeking to improve business opportunities in Portland) the over all value of the site is increase and thus all the associated sites (i.e. member company websites) are considered more important.
The ultimate in headline reporter, Twitter’s 140 character limit keeps publication content size down, allowing only the essentials. Announcing your articles and links is a snap and you can do it from your cell phone.
Pulling It Together
In the beginning, Social Networking will seem to be moving very slow. Building ‘friends’ networks requires a concerted effort. Don’t be shy, find groups of people you MAY have something in common with, and send them a friends request. Start with friends and family, they will be a good source for profile activity at first. Next move on to co-workers, people in your social groups, college alumni, and then total strangers. If you don’t ask, they will never say yes.
Most social networking site frown on adding too many friends all at once. It may take a few weeks to a month or more to build a large social network. Take your time and be sure your maintain quality content over quantity.
There will come a point when your social networking effort will feel whelming, especially if your strategy includes several social networking sites. It is important to have Google Analytics (or some other web traffic analyzer tool) collecting data on site visitors. Success is based on traffic originating from the social networking site. Without traffic, you can not have conversions.
Facebook encourages you to post pictures. Pictures are GREAT conversation starters. The goal is to make every visitor to your social networking profile page feel like you are doing something more than looking for traffic. Remember bait and switch! If your Facebook site ONLY has links and sales presentations then visitors will feel spooked. Keep your presentation real and you will have an easier time building lasting relationships. It is OK to build actual friendships online. These friends will be MORE likely to refer other people to your profile and your BUSINESS.
We suggest you start with Facebook. Doing so will give you ideas about social groups you can identify with.
- Join groups
- Watch the discussion for a while
- Invite friends at a moderate pace
- Learn the lingo (See Personality Based Marketing for more info)
Next join one of your local online social networking sites, we suggest Portland Business Community. These sites will give you the full flavor for online social networking.
- Join the group
- Read the posts and add comments where appropriate
- Publish your own article (Make sure EVERY article contains at least ONE like to your company website, but no more than THREE.
- Publish link info on Facebook that takes readers to your blog article
Digg, del.icio.us and Technorati now become your best friends. Put links to your blog article on ALL THREE sites. These sites act as publishing clearing houses for the blog world. Each site will index your article and having multiple links to your article will increase the search engine importance.
Now is a goood time to create a Twitter account. Twitter will act as your own personal news wire. Because it only allows postings of 140 characters or less, your postings will be VERY small. For Twitter to be effective, you need to “follow” other people in order for them to “follow” you. Like Facebook, with Twitter you need to befriend strangers.
- Find national news sites (FoxNEWS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.)
- Follow those following the national news sites
- Wait for people to start following you. You will receive an eMail once someone opts to follow you.
- Publish links to your articles AND other interesting bits of information. Avoid direct selling as this action is a turn off.
A business blog allows you to create search engine rich content you can share on social media sites and bring new traffic to your company website.
Need help getting your business blog up and running? Click or call me today for free advise or an affordable custom built solution.
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