Social Networking Sites – How They Can Help your Business

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People mistakenly think of social networking as a way to market – to quickly make an impact. They want to be on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other sites. They want to try every new technique they read about.

The way most people approach social networking sites is like hiring people to hand out business cards to as many people as possible. They want to advertise, not be social. Social networking sites are about being social – which means interacting – but rather than to one person at a time it’s to a group.

I recommend that you go deep rather than wide. Choose one social network or platform and do that well. Social networking is high touch – it takes time and expertise. If you go too wide and shallow you likely won’t see results. Instead go deeper.

Guidelines for social networking – ways to be more social online:

  • Find people in your target market who are already popular and try to get noticed by them. Add them to your network and see who their friends are so you can add them too.
    Example: It’s like you’re new in town and you need to find who the happening people are and work up to hanging out and being seen with them. Just by being seen with them you’ll get noticed and be more popular. While you’re street team might not be online, there might be someone they know who is very well connected on Facebook or online. Find that person. Friend them. On Facebook, you can suggest other friends.
  • Interact with popular people who are in your target market online. Comment on their blog, their videos, their pictures. Leave a comment on their Facebook Wall. Follow them on Twitter. Read their blog.
  • Track (use Google Alerts with your business name and perhaps the names of people or names in your space you hope to reach) so you can keep in touch with what’s happening and find new people to reach and news to talk about. If you get a Google Alert and find someone has blogged about you, write about it on Facebook and link to the post. Blog about it if you have a blog. Link to it on your MySpace page. Put it on your web site. Twitter about it, etc.
  • Create content you can use on social networks – collect pictures (Flickr), video (YouTube), audio files. Use this content across the social media platforms you are on.
  • Ask your network to teach you by asking their opinion. They have egos if they’re popular and by asking them you are showing that you recognize that they’re in the know. Example: Today I asked my Twitter network which headline they like best out of two I wrote. I got about 10 answers and #2 was the clear winner. This took less than 30 mins. But I had to build a network first. When you write about other people you compliment them (whether you blog about them, Twitter about them, or have a picture or video that has them in it).
  • When you get a decent following or a lot of content, add links to your web site. So you might have a “find us on” Facebook (logo and link to your profile), MySpace, etc. You could feed in your Titter updates to your home page, etc. In other words, you can integrate all the channels. Blog updates can auto post to your Facebook page, Twitter can automatically produce a blog post of your recent tweets…all to reinforce what you’re doing and bring you buzz.

There is a learning curve and it takes time to build relationships, just get momentum going by starting to communicate and by communicating regularly on social networks. Once you start communicating you need to have a commitment to continuing to engage.

Choose one or two places to focus (places where your demographic is hanging out) and go. Here’s a press release about a large study of social networks that is find helpful to decide where your target market is hanging out online: