Social Media Marketing: Seven Ways to Make It Work For You

Social media

Image via Kozinets

Whether you just launched your new web business or you’ve been around a couple of years ( a lifetime on the W3), if you aren’t using social media to market your site, well, you’re rowing with one oar out of the water.

What Is Social Media and Why Do I Want To Use It?

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Brightkite, Naymz, LinkedIn – these and many others, are all web sites actively seeking your membership, and better known as social media web sites. These free services are useful to individuals and companies in a variety of ways critical to web success.

A basic tenet of guerilla marketing is first described 4,000 years ago in Chinese tactician, Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War (still required reading at all U.S. military academies). When you, or your real-world or on-line business, create a profile page on LinkedIn, you employ the resources of LinkedIn to promote your services, goods or message.

The same is true of all social media sites. They’re free and they’re viewed by millions of people each day. Free exposure is always good for any business when properly deployed. That’s why everyone – from huge corporations to small, spare-room start-ups – use these sites. I upgraded the RAM on one of my computers but before I did I visited YouTube, did a site search for my computer name and RAM and up pops a half-dozen vid-clips on how to properly install my new RAM chips.

It makes the manufacturer look good, it cuts down on customer service or client care calls and it keeps the company name right in the viewer’s face.

1. You might be tempted to Tweet on Twitter every time you post to your blog but pretty quickly, your posts become the white noise of the web.

We’re all so used to being bombarded by web advertising that your plaintive little Tweet won’t draw many visitors to your blog or web site.

Now, that doesn’t mean don’t flare a new blog post, Tweet it and post it to your Facebook wall. By all means. For one thing, these posts are usually picked up by search engines creating more SERPs for you and your business. But post informational content, useful content, funny content. If all you do is flog your blog 24/7 on social media sites, (1) a lot of your web links block you and (2) 99% of those who don’t block you also don’t visit your site.

2. Create your own inter-connected weblet.

Web apps developers are a smart bunch and these coders have made it easier and easier to inter-connect your presence on social media sites to create a larger target for prospects.

Tweetdeck and Seesmic, two Twitter management tools, enable you to post once to Twitter and have that same post (with tiny URL) appear on your Facebook wall simultaneously. Post once, the post appears in a couple of places.

Keep a company blog? It’s free, easy and employs the resources of Wordpress, Blogger, Typepad or other blogging platforms for your benefit. Well, Wordpress and Typepad enable you to display your blog posts automatically on your LinkedIn profile – updated regularly. Post to your blog and your LinkedIn profile page automatically displays the headline and a link to your blog, which links to your Facebook page or your web site or your Brightkite profile.

This trail of crumbs enables prospects to find you in a lot of different places and, with a click, learn more about you. With growing interest at each stop, these prospects eventually land on your site where the story of your business can be told.

Social media equips you to create your own, business weblet with lots of contact points for prospects to hit in search of the products or services you provide. Bigger target? More hits. Simple as that.

3. Network.

You never know who you’ll run in to on LinkedIn. There are hundreds of “groups” that you can join from college alumni groups to professional groups to social groups. Use these groups to expand your list of contacts and to mine for potential clients or buyers.

Also look for service providers on these sites – outsources that can fill an immediate or on-going need at the lowest price possible.

A big part of web success, both in terms of search engine recognition and conversion ratios, is linkage. Use social media for easy, made-to-order links swaps. Again, this is a no-cost opportunity to exploit the resources of social media sites to further your business success. Sun Tzu had it right four millennia ago.

4. Make me want to learn more.

There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering an interesting post on LinkedIn Answers, only to discover that the individual who provided the pithy, on-point response has a one line description of herself on her profile page. What a wasted opportunity.

Create profile pages on all social media sites that make me want to learn more about you and/or your business. Don’t make me fill in the blanks. Are you someone I want to connect to? Someone worth following around various social sites? Your profile page should be crafted with great care.

Avoid hype and any hard sell. Talk about yourself and, as an “afterthought,” add a paragraph or two, along with a subtle call to action, that directs readers to contact you for a chat, i.e. “Hey, drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about virtual assistants and how I can help your business grow. And FAST!”

5. Add site keywords to all profiles and posts.

An SEO benefit to go along with all of the business development benefits to social media. Bots index your various profiles from the different social media sites to which you belong, so using the same keywords in your profiles that you use to optimize your web site or blog will have you showing up on more SERPs faster.

Whether you’re a CPA or an SEO, the same keywords should appear in your social media profiles and on your web site or blog.

6. Become an authority and build creds using social media web sites.

LinkedIn Answers, Yahoo! Answers and other social media sites’ “Help Desks” are a great way to frame your expertise within the context of an authority – the owner, founder and head custodian of your one-person biz.

By providing answers, you build credibility among readers of these site features. You develop name recognition and are branded an “authority” by the social web site.

7. Take this opportunity to “Toot your own horn.” Just not too much.

Billionaire and authority on self-promotion, Donald Trump, once said, “Toot your own horn. No one else will.” Good advice from The Donald and a strategy that has clearly worked for him.

Use social media to instruct, educate, motivate and inspire through your insightful insights and unbridled generosity at giving advice and helping others. It’s a great way to toot your own horn without it looking like you’re hyping yourself or your business.

A word of caution: Avoid too much self-promotion. Social media sites are open to anyone and in many cases any anonymous jerk can flame you for posting business-related content. I’ve had people complain that Facebook is “supposed to be fun,” not a place to announce new blog posts.

One contact actually dropped me a line explaining why he was going to have to block me on Facebook because my daily announcements of blog posts, interesting sites, articles and other contributions made him miss some important messages.

So, I got the message and cut back on my postings. Oh, I still toot my own horn.

Just a little more softly and not quite as often.

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