Social media can be a great marketing tool for your internet business if used correctly to build a following of people who know and trust you as well as a way for you to engage your followers. This is actually something I have only recently realized and started to learn myself. Up until a few months ago I had always written social media marketing off as a fad and a waste of time. But I started testing it out a bit more and little by little it grew on me until I finally found that it does have several benefits and can be a great addition to other internet marketing strategies. I still don’t have a huge following or a bunch of friends on any one social site but I am working to build them up right now.
Social networking and social bookmarking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg, Delicious, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Mixx, FriendFeed, and a bunch of others give you the opportunity to interact with an incredible amount of people that can be a huge potential market for your business. Plus, they are all free and easy to use. Not to mention the fact that they are very popular and used by just about everyone nowadays.
The most important part of social media marketing is to NOT treat it solely as an internet marketing tool. You must build a following, build trust, build relationships, interact with your friends/followers, give more than you take, and become someone they listen to and recommend to others. Then, you will be able to promote things to them every so often. Create value first and market later.
Too many people use whatever means possible to try and get as many followers/friends as they can so they can blast out links to their sites/offers and hope someone clicks them. That doesn’t work. It’s called “social” media or social “networking” for a reason! You must be social and truly network with others for this marketing strategy to work.
Marketing on social networks can be a very difficult path to take, but it can be very rewarding in the end if you do it correctly. You definitely shouldn’t tweet more than one marketing message per day on your main Twitter account or post more than one per day on your Facebook profile, or whatever other social networking site you use.
Social bookmarking sites are a little different because it is expected that you will “bookmark” links on them. However, you should still build up friendships and followings on them wherever possible so they will help you to vote up your content. And you should definitely not only post your own content to them. Bookmarking links to your own sites should be done sparingly or you won’t get far with the majority of users. Also, social bookmarking sites such as Delicious are typically much better to use than Twitter or Facebook for getting backlinks to your site.
The basis of social media marketing is to create value for your friends and followers on your social networks — give them an incentive of useful information, tips, giveaways, help, support, friendship, and general entertainment value in order to secure their trust and keep them as followers to which you can market (lightly) to in the future. This is one internet marketing strategy that must be handled with care and can’t be abused at all, or it won’t help you a bit.