Social Media Marketing - online business networking

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, Video Channels etc... provide website owners with new ways to both increase visibility to their sites without relying strictly on the search engines and engage people in an online networking environment that they may not have engaged with before.

Social media is a powerful tool for building brand recognition and increasing visibility but don't mistake Social Media Optimisation for a substitute to Search Engine Optimization. Social media optimization simply gives site owners another set of tools to add to their marketing toolbox but it needs to be built on a strong Search Engine Optimisation foundation and aligned with a clearly defined Marketing Strategy.

Essentially, done right Social media can do 3 primary things for a business.

1: Take a message (event, observation, tip, referral, advice etc...) and send that message to multiple places on the internet where millions of people everyday pay attention (at some level) to whats being said.

2: Listen to whats going on in the Social media world, what are your customers saying about your brand, products or services, what are your competitors doing, what opportunities are there, who needs help.

3: Help, whether its providing a formal support channel using social media or just simply taking time out to offer some free advice to someone posting a question, being seen as helpful and approachable online will go a long way.

Social media - You do it daily in the real world.

Anybody serious about their business probably gets actively involved in some form of networking where they can find opportunities to create new business. Business networking is about building relationships, both reinforcing with old acquaintances and creating new relationships which ultimately have the potential to end up with some kind of new business through referrals. Social media networking/marketing is not really that different, you probably won't make your sales go through the roof if you tweet furiously, nor will you likely have streams of people banging on your shop doors if you have 600 fans on Facebook. What you will have however is the ability to build a referential presence to both increase your online presence and provide credibility by maintaining regular online networking activities.

1: Start with less activity than you plan to implement - Too often I see clients get so immersed in social media for about three to five weeks of furious activity that is hard to sustain and ultimately leads to that dropping off substantially. Instead you should consider, watch and learn, try it out slowly, and build up steadily to a point you can sustain easily.

2: Have a strategy - Without a strategy i.e. "What is the goal I want to achieve by immersing myself and my business into social media?" you will spend a lot of time furnishing little result and get frustrated very quickly. Be clear about why you tweet or post on facebook or write a blog and ensure that everytime you hit the keyboard theres a reason behind it. "This is helping me achieve my Social Media business goals of xxxxxx"