Social Media Marketing, often lovingly shortened to SMM by us SEO types, is kind of the cool new kid in class. There is nothing really too new about it, but these days more and more SEOs and internet marketers are jumping on the social media bandwagon, and a bit haphazardly. Sure, SMM can be a very powerful tool in your internet marketing arsenal, but like any other weapon, if used incorrectly it can be dangerous (in the very least, it’s a waste of time). Let’s talk about the 5 most obvious (yet more important) things you ABSOLUTELY need to be doing in social media in order for it to work for you.
I know… how trite. But seriously folks, signing up for a social media site, adding a link to your homepage, and never logging back in will do nothing for you. If you want to see some rewards for your efforts, you’ve got to make some extra efforts. Fair enough, right? Let’s just for a second, examine the terminology here…”social” media: Implying the need for some sort of socialization. So get out there, and get active. Leave comments on people’s pages, respond to blogs and videos, add images, and make friends. People are on these networks to do exactly that: network. If you just look at the time spent on these major social networking sites, you’ll see that in spite of all the nay-saying that these networks are solely a waste of time, obviously the users (your potential customers) see the value in it. So be a part and add to their experience.
-Choose the Right Neighborhood
There are hundreds, and I literally mean hundreds of social networking sites out there. Of course we all know the big players, MySpace, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Technorati, etc. But there are countless others that might have more qualified users for you to interact with. Do a little research, find out what demographic of consumers are using your products or services, and find where they are hanging out. Be a staple within the right group. Sure you might get a laugh for the hormone charged 14 year old boys on digg who read your article about your new line of gridles, but they are not the demographic buying your products. Finding the right demographic can really make the time you invest into social marketing worth you while.
-Consistency is Paramount
Brand yourself! Being active across multiple social media networks is important, but it’s also important to portray a consistent brand, theme, and message. Make sure the users who see you on MySpace see the same type of company as they see on LinkedIn and Facebook. Use your company’s logo, and consistent images. Make sure if multiple employees are representing themselves across the social networks, they do so in a uniform fashion. It’s important to be personable within the community, but remember even though you’re on MySpace; you are still representing your business. Now, if your business is a fortune 500 accounting firm, you may have a slightly different look and feel in these networks than a company that sells roller derby equipment. Again, know your brand, and marketing it to YOUR customers.
-Communication is it Key to Success
Like all relationships, the ones founded across the social media space rely on open communication to flourish. And like all relationships, the ones that lack communication are doomed for epic failure. Talk to your customers about their needs, what do they want out of your products or services? How can you make them better? Be willing to listen to their needs, desires, and advice, and add your two cents. The Opinion Research Corporation recently released a study by Cone showing that a whopping 85% of Americans want businesses to have a presence in social media. They are looking to interact with employees at their favorite businesses, and now social media is making that possible.
-Show Some Love to Your Friends
Make friends. Make a LOT of friends. And show them you appreciate their friendship by commenting on their pages, pictures, and promoting their articles in social bookmarking sites. By doing this, it eliminates the impression you are a shameless self-promoter, and it should keep the trolls and problem starters off your back. By proving you are involved in this community to add to it, not just to gain from it, you are much more likely to see those efforts rewarded by more interaction, and possibly, more sales from your targeted clientele. So get out there, get social, and make a difference for your business in 2009.