Marketing with Social Media
This post started off as a quick summary of my presentation about using Social Media for Search Engine Marketing, but has developed into something that expands on the presentation and offers a few more thoughts about Social Media.
Whilst Social Media technology is new, using it to market your business is based on the same marketing techniques business have used for centuries, however it is using these new technologies to develop these techniques to new levels that is bringing Social Media as a marketing tool to the fore.
What is Social Media?
Social Media covers the many new sites and communication tools that have been launched over the past few years.
This started initially with blogs and forums where people can interact with the information they are being given, and from that have grown into sophisticated systems which can be grouped into three areas (although many of these systems have aspects that span across these three areas); Community, Commentary and Review.
Community based systems allow you to join communities and communicate with them. These include websites like Facebook, MySpace, Linked In and they let people keep in touch, play games, share photos and publish information with friends and family or by joining groups of likeminded people.
Commentary systems allow you to publish comments, information or thoughts for others to see and in turn comment upon. These include more established systems like Blogs and new ones like Twitter. These systems offer ways to keep people up to date in a less formal way that other methods of communication and as such can be a useful way to keep people informed with up to the minute information that may not be valid for long enough to add to your website.
Review systems are where people can give their opinion about stuff they find on the web indicating what they like or dislike. Sites like Digg, Sphinn, StumbleUpon or Delicious all allow people to vote on content they come across. By joining these sites you can in turn get sent links to content that is related to what you like based on your profile being matched with other members profiles, and the content those other members have voted on.
What can Social Media offer as a marketing platform?
To understand this we need to review what we try to achieve when we are marketing our business. Although I’m sure there is a plethora of ways to describe the concept of marketing it boils down to one basic goal; building a need or desire for your offering.
To do this we use a host of tools to get our message in front of a market that wants what we do, or we develop a market by educating groups/communities that they need what we do to make their life better/safer. At the same time we develop our messaging to generate trust that we are the right people to deliver it (whatever ‘it’ is).
Once you have generated the need or desire, and built some initial trust that you can deliver then you have a prospect ready to be sold to.
As we all know marketing can be expensive, so over the years many supporting techniques have grown to help keep this process efficient and cost effective, here a few examples:
- Market research – to understand what it is people are really looking for, or what issues they have they need a solution for.
- PR – build awareness of your business and recognition of your brand both of which are designed to start building trust.
- Targeted marketing – putting the right message in front the right group/community in a format that appeals directly to them.
- Customer focus groups – engage with people who already use you offering to understand what they like (to help market it better) and what they dislike to help improve the offering.
- Etc etc…
So, Back to Social Media – How Does This Help?
Social Media offers us two key elements that can make our marketing much more efficient.
Firstly it allows us to get our message out to a wider audience quicker and cheaper than before. Many of the tools used are free and your messaging & images can be changed very quickly to react to the changing environment; keeping them current and compelling.
Secondly and probably more importantly it turns one important part of marketing on its head; you no longer need to identify different communities and determine how to communicate with them, they are already grouping themselves together for you, making it much easier to target them.
However at first glance it may appear that to make us of all this technology you would have to employ a team of people who did nothing all day but post stuff to a hundred different websites each day. Well fortunately other systems have been developed to help us out.
One blogging system in particular has a wealth of excellent add-ons that can take your posts and publish them to many different systems without you needing to do anything. By virtue of being an OpenSource system, WordPress has allowed many developers to create these add-ons to help us get our information written properly, have it optimised for the search engines, and publish it to many different systems all at the click of a button.
Here is an example of six very useful plug-ins:
- SEO Smart Links – This SEO-friendly plugin can automatically link keywords and phrases to related comments, posts, pages, and categories within your site. This makes less prominent pages or older content more relevant and crawl-able for search engines, and keeps site visitors engaged. It also lets you set “nofollow” tags on URL’s and create custom keyword lists with automated URL hyperlinks for individual terms.
- I Love Social Bookmarking – I.L.S.B. is a great way to encourage blog readers to rank your post on popular social media sites. In the past year, sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Sphinn have become major resources for driving relevant traffic to quality site content. This plug in inserts an attractive drop-down menu next to your blog posts that allows readers to submit or rank your site content on a number of popular social media sites, without leaving your blog.
- WP to Twitter —Twitter is an ideal space for (viral) content sharing since users are constantly engaged in niche conversations. Now that Google’s Social Search indexes tweets at the top of SERP’; more tweets/retweets = more indexing power. WP to Twitter is a plugin that automatically tweets a tiny URL link to new blog posts or blog edits on your site. Without any additional effort, your content is distributed to a relevant, willing audience; this can drive relevant traffic and increase your presence in social search results.
- WP-Super-Cache —This plug in contributes to your site speed and it helps your blog load faster. The number of pages on your blog that a search engine will index on a daily basis increases with speed. If indexing each page is a quicker endeavour, more pages will be indexed. WP-Super-Cache creates static html pages from your WordPress blog so your server will present this file instead of the much denser PHP script. This will also help fortify your server when it is receiving a high amount of traffic, which can result from all your other great SEO strategies! This is because this plug in serves a static html page to 99% of your site visitors.
- Robots Meta — Robots Meta automatically inserts “nofollow” tags on internal site links that are irrelevant to search crawlers; this keeps search engines from wasting time indexing unimportant pages like results, login, and admin pages, instead directing crawlers to index primary site content.
- SEO Slug — Blog post titles typically get an h1-h3 heading, which makes them very important in terms of keyword optimization. SEOSlug optimizes blog post titles to improve search engine visibility by editing keyword strings. It removes conjunctions from titles, (words like “as” and “if”) to allow crawlers to more readily crawl main content keywords as a fluid string.
OK I Get It – Now What?
Well the first step is to identify which of these Social Media options work best for you business. For example of the Community based sites, Linked In is particularly focused on the business community and Facebook has an already vast and still growing number of self-created communities of member spanning every interest you could image. To make use of these set up a Facebook profile (if you haven’t already) then join the groups who you think would benefit from your offering and then you can post information to those people.
If your industry is constantly changing and regular quick updates and snippets of news would be useful to your customers and prospects then Twitter may be for you.
Once you’ve decided which systems you will use, get a WordPress blog (if you don’t already have one) and find these various add-ons that will help you do what you need to. To find these start here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ or Google WordPress Plugins – there are loads! Get to know these and learn how to get them working for you.
Then start blogging and get that information posted to on your account on all the other places
So there really is no excuse for you to not make use of this technology and let your business grow.