5 Things You Must Do To Dominate Social Media and 3 Things You Must Avoid Like The Plague
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter aren't just for telling everyone how drunk you got last night at your best friend's girlfriend's house. Businesses can also use social media to improve penetration into their marketplace. By connecting directly with customers, businesses can get valuable feedback about which products the market craves.
Businesses can also interact with customers, and make the whole process of buying and selling more informal. When a customer buys because of social media interaction, it should feel more like a friend recommending a good product or service instead of a faceless, nameless company pushing products to anyone that fogs a mirror.
Since social media didn't grow up as a marketplace for blatant advertising, users may be put off by overt product pushing. If you're tactful and mindful of how social media works, however, you'll be successful in your marketing attempts over the long-term.
1. Make yourself linkable. Being linkable means that you have content that you can share and that is updated frequently on your website. If you don't post often to your site, or you don't even have a blog, you should reconsider your business marketing strategy. Some websites are nothing more than a virtual storefront. That may have worked in the '90s, but it's just not going to cut it in today's world. Without backlinks, your site is going to languish in the search engine results pages, and you're not going to have any kind of social element to market on social media websites.
2. Make it easy for other people to tag or bookmark you. If you add buttons to your site, especially to blog posts, that allow people to easily bookmark you in their del.icio.us account, or some other social bookmarking website, then you make it easier for people to tag or bookmark you. If you make it easy for people to tag or bookmark you, then they won't forget about you. Do you see where this is going? It's much easier for people to share your website if it's easy for your site to be shared. Most people are interesting creatures who take the path of least resistance. If you make something hard for them to do, they won't do it. Highlighting a URL, copying it, then pasting it somewhere is must harder than just clicking a button. It might sound ridiculous, but you're welcomed to test it. See which method gets your site shared more: the one-click method vs a 3 or 4-step method.
3. Incentivize inbound links appropriately. Have you ever been to a website that displayed who was linking to that website? It's pretty rare. However, imagine this: you link to another website that you like, as a normal Internet user. Then, that website, be it Pepsi, or General Mills, or Apple, decides to say "thank you" by generously displaying your name on their website. Pretty cool huh? Now, think about how cool that would be to your visitors if, when they linked to your site, they got a mention on your website. This, by the way, can be automated using some tricky coding on your website. When you reward people for doing something, they tend to want to do it. When you turn that thing into a contest or a game, you institutionalize it. That's a very good thing for you. Can you somehow turn linking to your website into a game, of sorts, for prizes being awarded for the most relevant links or for sharing your very best posts and having other bloggers explain why they enjoyed that post? If you can, you just transformed linkbuilding from being a chore to something that people actually want to do.
4. Make your content viral. The format of your content matters. If you create content in a PDF format, or as a video, it can be shared via email easily. This is especially true of PDF files. A PDF also comes with the perception of professionalism. Blog posts are a dime a dozen. However, a PDF of a really good (and long) post could become a special report, pamphlet, or a even a book. If it's really good, it could be passed around to thousands of people. A video can accomplish the same thing. The key to making your content go viral is to offer something of legitimate value. Solve a problem that your market is experiencing right now. Show them how to solve it, in principle. You can give them something useful without giving away "the farm." What's important is that your piece not become just another thinly-veiled sales pitch.
5. Be generous with your content. When you create content, it's OK to copyright it. However, you might want to be a bit more generous with your content and allow other people to share it, mash it up with other content, and deliver it to a mailing list or some other social media site that they participate in. As long as the mashup is reasonable, and you retain the credit for the work you did, this can be an excellent promotion strategy. By having someone else promote your stuff through social media, it really is like a friend telling other friends about you. It's classic referral marketing - one of the best forms of advertising known to man.
While there are many things you can do to improve your business using social media, there are also some things you want to avoid like the plague. These things will likely only turn your customer base off, and scare away any potential customers. Plus, you'll look like a total scumbag using them.
1. Don't create sock-puppet accounts to boost your rank. Creating a "fake" Facebook or Twitter account for the sole purpose of boosting your search rank makes you look phony and could border on being unethical. The whole point of social media marketing is to spread the word about your business in a way that allows you to connect with people. If you're using it to linkspam the search engines, no one will follow your Twitter, like your business page on Facebook, add you to their Google+ circle, or Digg your latest blog post. You'll become socially retarded in your marketplace, and eventually Google (and other search engines) will punish you in the search results by pushing you down in the rankings.
2. Avoid paying for fame. If you Digg your own post, and even if you ask a few friends to do the same, there's probably no harm in that. However, if you have to call up all of your family and friends and ask them to like your Facebook page, or retweet your latest post, then there's something wrong with your strategy. People should want to share your stuff because it's cool, not because you had to ask them to.
3. Don't abuse tags. Use a little discretion when tagging your posts on social bookmarking sites. When you tag posts with keywords, make sure you're using tags that accurately describe what your post is about. If your most recent post is about improving your golf swing, think about what visitors will be looking for. Try to avoid tagging your post with "golf balls" or something like that to widen your reach. It just won't help you. Even tagging your post with the general "golf" term doesn't really help you. You want people interested in improving their golf swing so that they become good candidates for buying your special golf video or latest ebook on improving a person's golf swing.
If you use social media wisely, it can become in invaluable resource that can eventually take on a life of its own. Because of the nature of social media, your business could spread by word of mouth and reduce the amount of work you have to do to promote your brand. However, if you try to force it and game the system, you'll only end up working harder for less profit. Even unsavvy Internet users know what spam is.