Article by Collyn Floyd
Social Media Marketing: Why You Need to Join the Conversation – Marketing – Social Marketing
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Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Digg, blogging…with so many social media possibilities, what’s a marketer to do? New social media websites are popping up on a seemingly daily basis, and it can be overwhelming just trying to keep up with all of them, much less determining which ones will make the most sense for your business.
The good news is that you don’t have to – and shouldn’t – do it all. Because social media is so vast and varied, you’re better off picking a few types of social media that are the best fit for your business and then doing those well. But you may need to be convinced that social media is a worthwhile endeavor in the first place…
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Social media is a “must” in any marketing strategy, but especially in a down economy when your marketing budget may be tight or even nonexistent. Most social media sites are free, so while they’ll definitely require an investment of your time and energy, they won’t require any cash.
Plus, social media marketing is interactive, so you’ll be able to target your demographic in new and interesting ways outside of traditional marketing techniques. In other words, you may actually be able to catch someone’s attention!
Many social media websites actually rank well in the search engines, so you may get the added bonus of increased search engine visibility.
If you’re still not convinced to give social media a try, consider that social media marketing can help you:
* Save money. It’s ridiculously inexpensive!
* Increase visitor traffic to your site
* Increase your website’s link popularity
* Increase your company’s brand awareness
* Increase your website’s search engine rankings
* Connect to throngs of people
* Build an online community
* Find out what your customers are thinking
Can you say all these things about billboards, radio spots, or other traditional marketing techniques? From blogging to photo-sharing to article distribution, social media gives you a platform to connect with potential customers, build your brand, and drive new sources of traffic to your site.
Types of Social Media Marketing
Blogs, similar to online journaling or diary-keeping, are sort of the “grandfather” of social media. They’re updated from a few times a day to a few times a week, and if you love to write and have time to keep up with blogging, it can be a great way to build community and establish yourself as an authority. Check out WordPress or Blogger, both of which allow you to set up a free blog in a matter of minutes. Once you know that blogging is for you, you’ll probably want to switch to a custom blogging solution on your own domain.
Microblogging is similar to sending text messages or IMs. These “entries” are limited to 140 characters (about one sentence) and are great for mobile device interaction, sharing quick thoughts/ideas, and promoting website or blog content. If you don’t like writing lengthy blog entries, try microblogging! Twitter dominates the microblogging sphere, but Pownce and Jaiku are players, too.
Social Networks allow you to interact and network with friends and/or colleagues online. Just a friendly warning: there’s a lot of professional/personal crossover on these sites, so it pays to be careful. Remember that your future boss or client may be looking at all those wild photos you’ve posted! Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace each have their own unique demographics within this social networking niche.
Article distribution sites lets you submit professionally written, helpful content, which they distribute it to their network of web content managers and editors looking for content. If you are able to write original articles, this is a great way to establish yourself as an authority and develop a nice following on the web. Popular sites for article distribution include Ezinearticles.com and Squidoo. You can also hand-pick websites looking for content within your own market niche.
Photo, Video, & Podcasting sites allow you to distribute and share your content in a visual and more interactive format. If you have photos of your products or from an event, add them to a photo-sharing site. If you are able to demo a product, add the video to YouTube. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or videographer. Flickr and Photobucket are popular photo-sharing sites, while YouTube and Vimeo are great for video.
Social News sites let users submit content, articles or news stories that they find on the web and then these stories are voted on by the online community. Unique story angles and “top ten” lists are particularly popular and can drive lots of traffic to your site. Popular social news sites include Digg & Reddit.
Social Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Delicious let their users share their favorite sites. The idea is that the more your site is recommended, the more traffic you’ll see from curious users who trust the online recommendations.
Online forums and message boards are out there on just about every topic imaginable. So even if you’re not a prolific writer, you can probably at least answer questions that others have posted. Maybe you’re a contractor or technical expert? This is an easy way to establish yourself as an authority and even drive traffic to your website. One of the most popular sites in this area is Yahoo! Answers.
So there you have it; a quick look at the why and what of social media. From healthcare to high-tech, there’s a social media fit that’s right for almost every type of business. It’s just a matter of taking the time to assess your strengths and then investing some time and energy. And in the current economic climate, who can’t afford that?
About the Author
Collyn Floyd is a marketing and public relations specialist with The Karcher Group, a web development and search engine marketing firm based in North Canton, OH. She is passionate about helping The Karcher Group’s clients achieve greater online traffic, leads and sales through search engine optimization and marketing.
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