A lot of marketers, once they figure out that social networking might be able to help their business, rush out to join every site they can find. As wonderful as their enthusiasm is, this is usually a bad idea. That’s because, as with most business activities, it’s a good idea to have a specific plan – and end goal – in mind before you start investing a lot of time and effort into it.
Spending your time wisely
Social networking is a very, very big field. You could easily spend all of your hours working on it. Would that be worth it for your business, though? For 99% or more of us, the answer would be a definite “no.” The trick, then, is in figuring out where the sweet spot is: we need to know what we’re trying to accomplish, and how we’re going to do that, before we begin.
I have already mentioned that the three biggest aims of social network marketing tend to be deepening customer relationships, finding referrals, and increasing your search engine profile. Which of those is most important to you? It’s likely that you’ll want to accomplish a little bit of each, but at the same time, realize that one of those goals is normally going to take priority over the others. And whichever one it is will dictate which tasks are most important.
Deepening customer relationships
If your major goal is to get closer to buyers, then you’re going to want to concentrate on putting out a steady stream of communication, as well as emphasizing depth in your social profiles. What does that actually mean? Usually, it means that you are going to enhance your online brand by letting customers take a peek behind the curtain. Whether you are a micro-sized startup or a multinational conglomerate, you’re going to try to engage your clients with a bit of personality. Your emphasis will be on getting to know people better, and vice versa, which makes you less of a vendor and more of an advisor or a friend.
Finding new referrals
When you’re looking to make and take contacts via social networking, you’ll want to take a slightly different approach. You’ll still need interesting profiles and frequent communication, but everything you do should be tilted towards widening the net a bit. Instead of beginning one-on-one conversations online, why not start a forum for feedback, or try to create “viral” material that’s likely to be passed on amongst friends and colleagues? It’s not hard to find new clients by using social networking sites and ideas, but it does take a conscious effort.
Search engine positioning
As with the other two major goals, some improvement in your search engine rankings is bound to come from a consistent social networking effort. But if crawling to the top of Google, Yahoo, and Bing is your primary goal, then your focus is going to be on a steady stream of interesting, keyword-rich content being distributed and linked throughout your social networking profiles. Because sites like Facebook and Twitter are being increasingly used by search engine spiders, adding new articles, videos, and other media can be a great way to improve your company’s SEO rankings.