Socail Media Marketing

 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a form of internet marketing which seeks to achieve branding and marketing communication goals through the participation in various social media networks. Social Media is a shorter top level term that describes the space overall, and covers the activities around social interaction, content, videos, images and audio exposure.

Social media marketing can help you increase the activity around these top goals:

  • Website traffic and user behavior (external and internal tracking)
  • Conversion and sales tracking
  • Page views, ad exposure
  • Growing brand awareness
  • Creating a positive brand association and keeping it there Business development and a broader customer reach

I suggest you begin by outlining clear goals for your social media marketing efforts and determine how you’ll measure success. Once you’ve outlined your goals, let’s look at some great ways you can begin to leverage social media for your marketing efforts.  I’ll provide a couple examples and you can take it from there.

Facebook offers exceptional, low cost marketing opportunities for small business. Facebook now has over 800 million users, and while that seems like an outrageous number for small businesses to be targeting, Facebook offers a very powerful platform on which to build a presence.

Fundamental Tactic: If you haven’t signed up for Facebook yet, you absolutely should as soon as possible. Once you’ve signed up, you should also consider securing your company’s username. Be aware, however, that if you reserve your company name for your personal account, you won’t be able to use it for your Business Fan, so you may want to create a Page before registering your company’s name. Fan Pages have special rules regarding usernames, which you can read here.

You should search for your competitors and evaluate their Facebook presence. What types of Pages have they built? How many fans or “friends” do they have? Spend 15 minutes reviewing each competitor. Look at their posts, photos and/or videos to understand how they’re using Facebook.

Progressive Strategy: You may already have a personal Facebook account, but how do you extend that presence for your business? You have several options. You can register a Business Account – which is designed for a very simple presence on Facebook. There are many limitations on such accounts (read the FAQ here), however, so you’ll most likely prefer to have a Business Fan Page. A Business Fan Page lets you create a page where customers or fans of your business can register as a “fan” and thus increasing the presence of your business (because your updates will also flow to their pages). You might also want to consider running hyper-local ads on Facebook.

Twitter has grown tremendously over the past year. For some small businesses, it offers an incredible marketing platform. Check out Bloomberg Business Week’s recent profile of 20 ways businesses use Twitter might give you some ideas about how you can leverage Twitter for your business.

Fundamental Tactic: You should sign up today and reserve an account in the name of your business. While you might ultimately tweet in your own name, you’ll want to have the option to tweet from a business account. More importantly, you don’t want your competitors to register your business name. Twitter has put together a simple guide to help you understand what Twitter can do for business.

Spend 15-30 minutes on Twitter’s homepage, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service. Do some searches for various terms and phrases that apply specifically to your market. You should also search for the names of the competition to see whether they’re on Twitter and if they are… how they’re using it. Do search for your small business name who knows, your customers may already be talking about you! Once you become comfortable with the content that’s already available and how your competitors are using Twitter, you can begin thinking about a strategy for how you’ll leverage Twitter for your business.

Progressive Strategy: To truly leverage Twitter, you’ll want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic, and Tweetie. Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more power over your Twitter strategy than you’ll have on the Twitter website. You might also consider using a web tool like Twitterfall, which will allow you to define (and color-code) various custom searches that you can review from time to time, and also to follow trending topics.

Multimedia (video, photos, audio) is a bit more complicated for many small businesses to execute, but can provide excellent social media marketing opportunities.

Fundamental Tactic: YouTube has been constantly evolving and adding features that make it an attractive social site. Although you don’t have to produce videos to participate on YouTube, you should consider whether easy videos can assist your marketing efforts. For instance, if you’re already posting videos to your blog, you can upload them to YouTube to reach a broader audience, and embed the video content in your blog posts. YouTube has also been adding more comprehensive activity updates for its users and has made pretty powerful analytics tools available so that you can evaluate the efficiency of your video content.

Likewise, you could create a Flickr account for your business and post photos of your customers or your products. Flickr offers a place where people can share photos with others, but also has discussion groups, many focused on local markets, which offer additional opportunities for you to market your business.

Progressive Strategy: Advanced strategies using multimedia are complicated and typically benefit from using experienced consultants. One effective way to leverage video, for example, is to create content that has the potential to become viral. While I don’t believe you can set out to make a viral video (an incredible amount of luck is typically involved), there are a number of things you can typically do to build awareness about your small business using viral video. Once you’ve created good content, you’ll want to distribute it using as many social networks as you can.

Here is a great video for a quick overview
How To Build Your Business With Social Media (presented By Kodak) on Howcast

 

Participate On Other Blogs It might seem counter-intuitive for you to spend your valuable time by participating in discussions on other people’s blogs, but the payoff can be very valuable. It does take time to build a reputation and establish your credibility (see Blog Consulting), and you can’t always expect everyone to come to you. Sometimes, you have to go out and build your own credibility and reputation.

Fundamental Tactic: Identify 2-3 blogs in your industry or market niche and get into the habit of regularly reading the content and participating in the discussions. Whenever you can, try to add value by sharing a personal story about what has/has not worked for you. Get to know the writers – they’ll be valuable contacts for you.

One possible strategy for identifying good blogs is to use Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop, which is a directory of popular blogs across many different subject areas. If you want to participate in blogs focusing on small business issues, you might start at Technorati’s list of the Top 100 Small Business blogs.

Progressive Strategy: Once you’ve spent some time on other blogs and have participated in discussions, you’ll find that you are able to build a level of credibility and trust. You should consider reaching out to the blog owners and asking whether they’d allow you to guest post an article on their blog. This is an excellent way for you to get in front of a bigger audience, and many blog owners will invite guests to post from time to time. Agree on a topic in advance and provide a draft of your post sufficiently in advance of the publication date to give them an opportunity to review.

Alternatively, ask if they would consider guest posting on your blog. Since you’re looking to attract more readers (and more potential customers), either option works well for that purpose.

Summary Recommendations

The big social media sites are the kings of web traffic. Facebook is #2 on Alexa, YouTube is #3, Twitter is #9, etc. There are literally thousands of social media sites, spanning dozens of categories, including (but in no way limited to)…

  •  Social networking sites – like Facebook and Linked-In
  •  Microblogging sites – Twitter
  •  Video sharing sites – YouTube, Vimeo
  •  Photo sharing sites – Flickr, PhotoBucket
  •  Consumer-review sites – Yelp
  •  Social bookmarking/sharing sites – Digg, Reddit, Delicious
  •  Social gaming sites – WoW, The Sims, Second Life

Although there are thousands of social sites, and traffic can be gained from most of them, it’s most effective to focus on the handful of sites with the most concentrated traffic:

My Top choices:

Facebook
Google+
YouTube
Twitter

My subsequent picks:

Linked-In (#13 on Alexa!)
StumbleUpon (#102 on Alexa)
Squidoo (#2242 on Alexa)
Flickr (#32 on Alexa)

Some others worth consideration: Tumblr, Orkut (in certain countries), Reddit, Digg, LiveJournal, Vimeo, Yahoo Answers, and the Warrior Forum (only for the IM niche… #138 on Alexa).

For an in-depth course let me suggest the Social Network Academy, it is really a great site!

You should where the fish are. For example, if your prospects are professionals… focus on Linked-In. The social media experts and gurus are teaching it from various (and often conflicting) angles. Many are teaching it from a corporate branding standpoint. There are three main ways that marketers get traffic from social media:

1) Spamming

  • Much of what’s being taught by so-called experts falls into this category.
  • Most social media automation tools are spammy.
  • It can and often does work, but I don’t recommend it.

2) Integrating

  • Virtually all businesses can benefit by integrating with social media to some degree.
  •  It’s about communicating through multiple channels. (Better chance of reaching your prospects)
  • List building is still one of our primary goals

3) Socializing

  • Your socialization must be related to your business.
  • The objectives are building trust and authority.
  • Keep your personal profile separate from your business profile (with some exceptions).
  • Don’t waste your time on it. (always remember ROI)

WARNINGS about social media…

1) Scammers abound. Please educate yourself and learn the warning signs, so that you do not fall victim to a social media con artist.

2) You’re sharing your database. By building your business on a social platform, you’re sharing your data with the owner of the website, and potentially allowing your competitors to rip off and/or show their own ads to your list.

3) The distraction factor can be huge.

Personal thoughts: Google+

I  believe Google will have an advantage over Facebook: With a broad array of services like search and Gmail and Chrome and Android, Google offers tools that are fundamental to the online lives of so many people — and these can be tied to Google+. As Google+ evolves, Google will have the means to promote its social network — and the branded Pages within it — in ways that Facebook or Twitter cannot.

And though many point to the similarities between Plus and Facebook — and the similarities have only grown with the addition of branded pages — the addition of Pages may be more of a challenge to Twitter. While a certain portion of the population is accustomed to information in 140 character bites, Google+ provides a richer forum where companies can release news to the public.

Sharing pictures and video on Twitter, for instance, is still a rather clunky process. Followers usually must click through a shortened link and wait for a new page to load. By contrast, Google+ integrates directly with YouTube, the web’s unquestioned video heavyweight, and Picasa, its photo sharing tool.

What’s more, anyone can readily comment on a Goggle+ Page post, and the Page owner can readily respond. With Twitter, that sort of communication becomes a tedious series of @-messages that clog the feeds of uninterested followers.

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