With the death of the local newspaper and the explosion of social media websites, people are changing how they seek information, share opinions, and research products/goods/services before they buy. On the internet are tools that allow consumers to share content and information as well as to exchange views and recommendations of those products and services they are buying. They can give starts, digs, and thumbs ups or downs on vendors and service providers that can be read by millions of people instantly. Social media sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Yelp, Jane’s Book, and Angie’s list are the new “word of mouth” that promote or disparage products and services online.
Social media marketing strategies have the potential to make a company’s products and services go viral if businesses are able to grasp the effectiveness of establishing a brand and a brand reputation online. Social media marketing strategies are a great method of branding who and what a business is and helping that business build relationships and build a sense of community with their target audience of consumers. So how do you build that sense of community and brand familiarity? How do you build a credible online presence that goes beyond your website? How do you use social media in a way that is inviting for consumers that sells your brand and your product without selling? By employing a few simple basic business strategies online you can create a credible and effective user-friendly web presence for your brand and your business.
How Social Networking Sites Benefit Your Business
LinkedIn, Twitter, Biznik, and Facebook are communities of people who have gathered together online to discuss similar topics or to share similar interests. Solidifying your social media community is a no brainer! The best part about social networking sites is that you don’t have to be online 24/7 to market and deliver your business to your audience anytime on time. Social networking sites let you build a business centered around a particular purpose: building brand credibility and creating zealots who will talk about your company and its products.
The first step in building a credible social networking presence is to build a credible profile that is associated with your brand. By creating a profile that represents your brand you are creating a credible presence in that social networking community. They will love the fact that you are reaching out to your audience where they “hang out” rather than waiting for them to come to you. Developing warm ‘fuzzies’ for your crowd is how you develop the ideal client. If your avatar (photo or brand symbol) is not clear or is of you in 1974 when you were a lot younger, thinner, and had more hair, then you suggest that you are hiding something or not very authentic and perhaps a person/company not worth knowing. If you are using social marketing as a component of your marketing strategy you want to give some thoughts to the photo or “avatar” that you use. Think about them as branding images that reside right beside your name, your latest entry, or your comments.
Besides using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, there are a myriad of other searchable social media sites. Flickr, Digg, YouTube, Viddlr, etc are great for depositing search engine geo-targeted images, video, and rich content that can drive your business to the top of the search results. Social bookmarks (Magnolia, Delicious, Diigo, StumbleUpon), niche social networks (CrowdVine, Naymz, ClaimID, Gooruze), location networks (Upcoming, Eventful, BarCamp, Meetup, Evite), and customer service networks (Yelp, JanesBook, Angie’s List, Google Local) all build search engine go juice for your business presence on the web.
Community Building is the Corner Stone of Business Success
The web’s social applications are growing rapidly and with a little effort you can pick two or three strategies to carve out your niche presence on it. By anchoring social media links on your business website you can engage your customers and create an atmosphere of “community” and begin to develop contacts with new and potential customers that encourage them to come back to your site and your business again and again. Post your profile on the social media sites that are appropriate for your business and where your potential audience is hanging out. Go in and foster community building through the exchange of information and knowledge while building business contacts and connections without selling. Remember, it is about developing a niche audience that is interested in your company and your goods and services. If you just start the conversation, the community will build the enthusiasm and drive the need for acquiring your products or services. Establishing your company and your brand as the leading “go to” authority in your industry will promote your website, set you apart from your competition, and ultimately increase your sales.
Shannon Evans is recognized in the Puget Sound as an expert in how to make your business have a web presence rather than just a web page. Her conversational marketing techniques and practices outlined by Practical Local Search, LLC you will see your small business presence on the web increase: [http://www.practicallocalsearch.com/] She is a consultant for social marketing campaigns that allow you to organize your marketing and sales efforts in an inexpensive delivery platform that is easy to set up and manage. The ability to send, deliver, and track any installed resource gives you the power to create a marketing program quickly and easily in a scalable format that can grow with your business.
Shannon is also a co-author of Get Found Now! Local Search Secrets Exposed: Learn How to Achieve High Rankings in Google, Yahoo and Bing and multiple business ebooks. Her books teach entrepreneurs how to leverage the internet to attract new clients.