Social Media Marketing

Description: Social media marketing is the new way to be found and promote your business online. If you aren't exploiting this area you need to start thinking about how you can do it - and the sooner the better.

Do you have a MySpace account? Have you ever posted a video on YouTube? What about recommending a website to Digg?

If you haven't done any of these things then you are missing out on a potentially huge group of people who could drive your business forward with the minimum of effort and for no cost at all.

It stands to reason that internet marketers should make the most of using all the free resources available to them, and if there is a golden opportunity to reach a large audience for no cost then it makes sense to take it.

Social media marketing has become the latest and most talked about form of advertising among internet marketers all over the world. It gives you the chance to reach more people and in a more direct and personal way, by marketing yourself as well as your business.

There are two main types of social media that are available online. These are:

  • Networking sites such as MySpace
  • Bookmarking sites such as Digg and del.icio.us

Both of these can be used to great effect to spread the word about your website, and if you devote some regular time to these free resources you can experience an impressive surge in your website's traffic over time. Think of it as making an effort to create a fresh web of links all over the internet, all leading back to your website and blog. The creation of new links will obviously be of benefit as far as your website is concerned, since every one will be an incoming link. These are more valuable than any other link according to the search engines criteria.

So where should you start?

Bookmarking sites are perhaps the easiest route into social media marketing because once you have registered with each site it only takes a minute or two to make a submission. The three top sites to register with are probably Digg, del.icio.us and Stumble Upon.

Since you are not supposed to make multiple submissions of the same web page, it's a good idea to start with your website's home page and go from there. You can also submit your blog; make a point of submitting each post whenever you make a fresh one, since each one will lead to a slightly different URL. If you link your blog into your website there is a good chance the traffic your blog receives will travel over to your website anyway.

It also pays to be creative when you are trying to raise the profile of your site in this way. A lot of people simply submit their website to all the bookmarking sites they can think of and then sit back and do nothing else. While you will get traffic in this manner there is a lot more you can do to vastly increase your chances of raising your profile and being found more and more online.

First of all you should submit a link to everything else you have an interest in online. You can submit your MySpace profile, the page of another website on which one of your articles appears, and the URL to a video you have posted on YouTube. So long as your website URL appears somewhere on the page you are linking to, it's worth putting on a bookmarking site.

Think about any forums you are a member of. Do you ever get involved in any heated or controversial discussions that relate to up to the minute news stories or anything that people in your particular business would be interested to hear about? Make sure you have a link to your website in your signature line on the forum and put the URL of that thread on the bookmarking sites.

Social networking sites are a little more involved, but they are no less useful for that. Once you have joined and done the initial work that is involved in setting up your profile, you can start exploring each site in turn and deciding how you can start reaching out to the people who would be interested in the products you are promoting and selling.

A typical example of a more involved social networking site is Squidoo. You can build any number of pages (or lenses) with this site, and it gives you free access to a wide range of tools that will help you to attract visitors who are interested in your subject. It is one of the better networking sites because it is designed to help you earn money from the site itself, as well as directing people towards your affiliate links, your website and your blog, plus any other interests you may have.

Squidoo pages rank very well in the search engines, and if you take heed of the plethora of useful information they give you about building worthwhile pages on your interests and business, you stand a great chance of getting a steady flow of visitors to your lenses, and you can then funnel them towards your website. It is a great place to build a solid and worthwhile reputation.

MySpace is the other huge site which it's advisable to get in on in the near future. The search facility at the top of the page allows people to search MySpace for any users who relate to their own interests. So if your website is all about classic cars and you want to find more people who are interested in classic cars to sign up for your website, make sure you include all the relevant keywords in your content. This will ensure that your profile shows up in the results when people search for anything under that particular interest.

In this sense keywords are just as important at social networking sites as they are when you are writing content for your website. Make sure you are found in the search results on MySpace by incorporating plenty of keywords in your Networking, About Me and Interests sections.

You also have the opportunity to start blogging on MySpace. This is an excellent opportunity and you may even find that if you stick to the tried and tested search engine optimization techniques your blog may eventually show up in search engine results.

If you already have a blog you can link your MySpace blog up to your existing one. If you do this it's a good idea to have a slightly different angle for each blog so that people have an incentive to subscribe to each one. For example for your classic cars interest your main blog might be about classic cars in general, while your MySpace blog could be about restoring classic cars.

It's important to remember that while social networking gives you the chance to share a little of yourself with other people all around the world, you are also still representing and promoting your business. For this reason it is vital that you remain 100% professional and courteous to others at all times. Take the opportunity to help others wherever you can, because it helps to brand your business as a worthwhile and helpful one. If people know you are there to serve and help them, they will very likely reward you with their business in the future.

Social networking sites may have been intended to be used purely for social reasons to begin with, but things didn't stay that way for long. As the internet developed and more and more people started their own online businesses on shoestring budgets (or no budget at all), it became necessary to be more creative where advertising was concerned.

As the first few marketers saw the potential of sites like MySpace, Digg and del.icio.us for spreading the word about their business, people started to realize that this was a whole new opportunity for reaching people in different environments by using different techniques to the ones more commonly used in advertising.

Social networking is more subtle than traditional advertising because it allows you the luxury of building up a following and attracting people who will come back and visit on a regular basis. Once that relationship begins it becomes a lot easier to persuade them to visit your website to see what else you have to offer.

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