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Full Version: Getting Started with Social Media
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Social media is playing a massive role in the lives of people all around the world. Facebook is dominating the social networks. Literally within minutes of joining up on Facebook, you can be connected to long lost friends, family, celebrities, old high school friends and even your high school sweetheart. Or you could be in the trenches of a massive natural disaster and the rest of the world can find out about it via a 140 character tweet before the traditional channels of television and radio can even break the news. Or you’re a professional looking for help and increasing your knowledge in different areas and where do you turn to – LinkedIn of course!
These are just a few of the social networks that people are using each and every day. Learning how to leverage the power of social media marketing is massive if you’re a professional, internet marketer, have your own business or you may be the marketing coordinator for a company.
So this is where I want to help you along your journey. This is where I want to guide you through what I’ve learnt in both social media marketing and search engine optimization. I own my own web design, social media and SEO company doing this stuff and consulting for hundreds of clients all around the world. That’s why it’s a passion of mine and that’s probably why you’re here too.
Ok so let’s begin. The first thing you need to learn are the benefits that social media marketing brings to the table. Once you understand this, then you can start to understand the various social networks out there and then finally to work out a strategy that will ultimately lead to more traffic to your website and in turn, more customers. Social media marketing allows you to:
1. Get more traffic to your website – for example, people can come and visit your Facebook fan page and of course, come and visit your website because your website’s web address is listed in the URL section.
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2. Create brand recognition and reputation management – the more people talking about your business on Facebook to their friends, tweeting about you on Twitter or sharing your website on LinkedIn or even pinning your work on Pinterest, is helping to create a brand awareness of who you are on the Internet. This plays heavily on the good old time and tested method of word of mouth except it’s now via the Internet.
3. Cheap – unlike traditional marketing channels such as television and radio, social media marketing is relatively cheap. For example, a radio or television ad could cost in the thousands where as a YouTube video can create huge amounts of publicity all for the cost of a flip video and your time.
4. Leverage – social media marketing is great for leveraging yourself by utilizing the power of word of mouth and viral sharing. People are in effect marketing your website or brand for you.
5. Relationships – social media allows you to connect directly to your customers so that you can form a relationship with them. For example, a lot of companies are using Facebook and Twitter to alert their customers of special deals, downtime of services, or any new product offerings. Moreover, companies are also responding to customer complaints via social media.
6. Social reach – social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have now opened the access door for you to reach millions of people around the world, not to mention in your own country. It’s scary what you can do with this. For example, if you look through my blog I talk about Facebook a lot especially creating Facebook ads. In doing so, you can use Facebook targeting features to narrow down exactly who can view your ad, right down to sex, country, whether they completed high school or not and according to what interests they have. This is market research at it’s best!
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Now the next step is to understand each of the different social media channels out there and which ones suit which niches and demographics. There are hundreds of social networks out there. I’m being serious – hundreds! If you don’t believe me, check out a website that has social media sharing icons on them, you can see some of them have hundreds of websites that you can post your content to. I’m also a big believer in leverage and time management and I honestly don’t have the time to go through every single social network out there so I only concentrate on a few (which I have personally tested to see what works and what doesn’t and also seeing what others are using as well). But with these few social networks that I do focus on, I do them well. The other thing to understand about social media marketing is that some social media channels don’t suit some niches. For example, if you’re in the building and construction niche, then Facebook won’t have as much as an effect as if you were in the retail niche.
So here are the social networks that I concentrate on and which this blog talks a lot about.
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This is the one that I focus on the most. Why? Because it’s the biggest by far. It’s become so big that a movie “The Social Network” was produced about the founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Many stores in shopping malls now advertise their Facebook fan page on their shop window more so than their website.
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Another huge social network where people can tweet hundreds of messages within seconds. Twitter has received huge amounts of publicity due to how fast a single 140 character tweet can be spread around the world before that piece of news can be broadcasted via television or radio.
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Anything developed by Google needs to be noticed. They dominate the Internet world with their search engine. Google+ has become huge because Google now uses it to integrate into their search results. So if you’re not on Google+ you are already behind your competitors.
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This is a great social network. I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn because whereas Facebook contains a huge range of people from 18 year olds to 70+ year olds. The demographics of Facebook users include students, parents, grand parents, professionals which is a huge broad range of demographics. In contrast, LinkedIn is predominantly professional people. People that want to present themselves the best way in a professional setting so you have a whole heap of CEOs, CTOs, engineers, lawyers, doctors, internet marketers and the list goes on. It’s a great network for networking with other professionals and people looking for new jobs and to share ideas and discussions with other people in your professional niche.
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Video is absolutely massive in marketing your brand and gaining traffic. For example, think of how many times a video has gone viral on YouTube with people sharing that video via email, news reports, Facebook and the list goes on. Not only that, Google owns YouTube so anything Google owns you need to take notice of. Videos actually rank in the search results so hence why YouTube is not only great from a viral and social sharing perspective, it can also help boost your traffic from search results rankings. A lot of the social media channels all integrate with video and especially YouTube.
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Digg is a social bookmarking website where you can share websites and content, then people can also “digg” it or like it. The more people that digg your website or content, the higher chance it will appear on the front news page. You can see that if it appears on the front news page, how much traffic you may potentially get. Not to mention the amount of people who will then onshare your website and content with their own social networks.
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StumbleUpon is similar to Digg in that you can share your website or content with other people all around the world. You can also follow other people’s stumbles and have people follow your stumbles. Just like Digg, StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking website so the effect is to get other people to onshare your content.
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Lastly, Pinterest is a great social network to leverage off. I’m a big fan of this network. This network allows you to pin images or videos onto what is known as a board where others can repin your pins or like your pins. Pinterest allows you to add a URL to each of these images, hence you can get massive amounts of traffic back to your website.
Social Media Strategy
The next step is to work out your social media strategy. How are you going to use the above networks to drive traffic to your website and to get people to social share your content. This is where you really need to know your target demographics, such as sex, age, country, professions etc. Don’t stress there are heaps of ways to get this information (I’ll share this in a blog post) just be aware of the the theory behind it. Know the people you are targeting, know what social networks they use the most, understand why they are using these social networks and then formulate your strategy around that.
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Part of your social media strategy should be working out what content you will share on Facebook, Twitter and the other social networks. This is where you need to be creative and smart. To keep your fans interacting and for people to on share your content, it has to be engaging and highly valuable. This is where you can set up Google alerts in your niche or it could be a magazine article you read. You need to be aware and look out for any interesting content.
Moreover, the key behind a successful social media strategy is developing a relationship with your fan base. For example, if you setup a Facebook fan page never ever post hard sells all the time such as “Buy 2 pairs of shoes and get another pair free.” People will get a bad taste in their mouth. Instead, do a couple of engaging and highly valuable posts and then do a soft sell. Ask your fans for their opinions and get them engaged. Post something controversial in your niche and see what they say. Tweet about an interesting article you read. Mix it up and develop that relationship. Be aware of what people are saying about you and your brand on the different social networks. Create alerts and respond to negative comments.
Thirdly, have a vision and goal in mind. This should really be your first step. What is the goal of what you want to achieve – is it more sales? Is it more brand awareness? Whatever it is, write it down. Then everything you do should be aligned to achieving that goal. Social media is merely the vehicle in helping you achieve that goal.
Fourthly, work out how you will accomplish all of the above. Will you outsource it? Will you do in-house? How will you leverage your time? Tools like HootSuite are great for posting the same content on multiple networks at once. Social media marketing is not set and forget. You must realize that it takes effort, yes effort! You have to be doing it daily and at least weekly. Imagine if you never talked to your dad, would your relationship with him be as strong as if you were in regular contact? That’s the same principle. You need to be developing that relationship with your customers and fan base.
Making It Happen
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Finally, read blogs, books and hang out in forums learning the tricks of the trade. The best form of learning is doing it yourself. For example, create a Facebook fan page and start attracting fans to it. Create a Twitter account and start tweeting. Install programs on your smart phone so that you can update your Facebook and Twitter accounts while you’re on the go. Install a program like HootSuite and play around with it. The more you practice and the more you read, the better you will become at social media marketing. I guarantee it! I’m a firm believer in that readers are leaders. So there you go, a short primer on getting started with social media marketing. Feel free to read through my blog, where I talk about different topics in social media marketing and also another passion of mine which is search engine optimization.

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