Monday, January 5, 2009

Social Media Marketing Basics

Social Media marketing lets you harness the power of "word of mouth," to help you circulate your message to specialized targets, quickly and cost-effectively. It's another marketing tool that can help you to:
  • Build and maintain brand awareness
  • Build website traffic
  • Track prospects and conversions
  • Increase ad exposure and page views
  • Expand customer reach
Interacting with others through the social web helps you to quickly create and promote content and events. The "viral" nature of social media can help you to reach key influencers, enhancing mind share and supporting a variety of traditional marketing objectives. is an example of a Social Media network that is being used to connect family, friends, schoolmates, and business associates, both individually and through "groups." If you don't already have a Facebook account, get one. Once you have it, you can begin searching for and connecting to family, friends, and colleagues, and you'll begin to see connections that might prove useful for promoting your business. Search Facebook Groups for groups that might be of particular interest to you or your company, and join them. Once you've gotten that far, it's easy to begin taking advantage of the power of social networking! Got an event or webcast you want to publicize? With a platform like, it's ridiculously easy to create an "event," and send "invitations" to your connections as well as to groups to which you belong.

Some general tips to increase the effectiveness of your social media marketing initiatives:
  • Establish Reasonable Social Media Goals. Establish goals and a process for how to get there. Too many companies dive in too fast, with no real plan. If you don't know where you're going in the first place, how do you expect to know when you "get there"...?
  • Research Your Audience and Identify Influencers. A couple of hours spent on Facebook, et al., will clue you in to which groups and sub-groups are generating the most interest and activity, as well as helping you to identify key influencers and thought leaders in the space. Reach out to these folks with a message that s polite, honest, and sincere, and you might be surprised by what this kind of "brand advocate" can do for you.
  • Create Quality Content. While people are reading a ton of material online, a much smaller group is actually contributing content. By providing interesting content that is actually meaningful to your social media audience, you increase the viral nature of your campaign, helping to ensure success.
  • Position Yourself for Your Audience. Social Media users are not just "all business," but have fairly diverse interests. You will need to tailor your message to the context in which it will appear, which may well vary from one Social Media group to the next.
  • Blog. If you don't already have one as a part of your web presence, now is as good a time as any to start one. Make use of that grey matter, and share, for example, your ideas about how others can improve their business results. It creates goodwill, and helps to elevate your "thought leader" quotient.
  • Technorati. OK, now that you have a blog, claim your blog at Technorati. This helps to ensure that you are indexed in their search engines for blogs, and updates are automatically broadcast across the network, along with your own blog network updates.
  • Make Generous Use of Links. Don’t be shy about linking to other blogs and websites in general. Links are the life blood of search engines, and linking raises your own search profile.
  • Make Use of Videos. Create a “how to” or “top tip” videos and submit to YouTube. It has wide reach, and you could conceivably have millions of people see it. For even wider distribution, you should try or, tools that can help with automation. In generating your content, while it’s fine to brand with a URL at the end of the video, limit your use of aggressive, direct selling... it puts viewers off. Humor can work well, so don’t be afraid to "test" your work, internally or with friends and acquaintances.
  • Maintain a Schedule of Research. Subscribe to feeds, and use iGoogle, My Yahoo Web or other favorite RSS readers. Keep an eye out for changes (use also), and, when a topic of interest comes up, be the first to comment and engage in your topic. "First commenters" frequently get more visibility and traction.
  • Monitor Analytics. Open an account with one or more of the social networks from the list below, using your brand name as identifier. This will establish your brand or company name, and help to minimize "corporate" identify theft. Begin by working with one or two from the list below. Then, check your website's web analytics and track referring domains and review traffic movements, ,at least weekly. This will give you an idea of which sites are providing the most traction for you.
Here are some of the current top Social Media resources (in no particular order):
  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. YouTube
  5. StumbleUpon
  6. LinkedIn (use the Q/A section to gain readership and clients)
  7. Flickr
  8. Digg
  9. Reddit
  10. Technorati
  11. Techcrunch (subscribe to their feeds)
The real beauty of social media marketing -- and a key to its effectiveness -- is the central idea of developing and maintaining relationships. If you're ready to tap into the power of the social web through connected networks and consumer-oriented media, there are quite a few publications that cover it in greater depth. A couple of good starting points:
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