Social network marketing is the latest craze. You can hardly visit any Internet business site these days without hearing about how it’s a “must have,” “a revolutionary way of finding customers,” or “the next chapter in advertising and public relations.”
But is it?
Everyone agrees that sites like Facebook and Twitter are cool, but the path for serious business owners and self-employed professionals – the men and women who actually need to show a profit on what they do – is less clear. Sending tweets all day might keep you busy and make you seem cutting-edge, but there’s no guarantee it’s going to put any money in your bank account.
With that in mind, one of the first steps in putting together a social network marketing plan is knowing what you can realistically expect to get out of it. Here are the three main ways it can help you increase sales:
Deepening customer relationships. The give and take nature of social media sites enables business owners and the self-employed let buyers get to know them better and strengthen their brands at the same time. For that reason, it works best for those who have products or services that are highly technical and/or constantly changing, and not as well for businesses that sell pure commodities.
Finding referrals. The major advantage of social networking sites is that they allow for information, advice, and reviews to be passed on to huge numbers of people almost instantaneously – even more quickly than traditional e-mail. That means if you can entice your customers to spread the word, you can get new buyers coming to you in a hurry.
Search engine positioning. Social marketing requires a nearly continuous flow of fresh content. Not only does that help your company stay on top of breaking trends, but it’s enormously helpful when trying to reach the top positions on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines. In fact, many companies start social network marketing campaigns for this reason alone. A top spot on a major search engine can be worth tens of thousands of dollars per year in business, or even a lot more, so it can be well worth the effort.
If you are in a business or industry that can benefit from one or more of these, then continue reading, because we are going to show you how to use social networking sites to achieve these goals. If they don’t matter to you or your company, however, then take a moment to ask yourself whether the effort is really worth the trouble. Like a lot of marketing techniques, social media can be fun or interesting, but only if you are actually making money from it.