The Essential Social Media Marketing Plan for Any Website - Part 2
How to Get Started
Jonathon Crow commented when he first started going onto networking sites It feels like I just went into a single's bar and shouted will someone be my friend?!'
It can be scary getting started.
It can also be a disappointing experience, taking a lot of your time for very little reward.
However, you need to remember building relationships online is no different to building them in the real world. It takes time to find people you like and trust, and then it takes more time to get to know them.
1. Have a Business Goal
Before starting out you must ask yourself why am I doing this and what do I want the results to be? Be clear about your commercial goals. If you don't have a website which sells something or promotes your services get one setup. Try these services:
Website publishing tool with built-in membership, paid subscription, ability to display ads, simple shops and affiliate links, try SubHub (www.subhub.com)
For an ecommerce service for selling physical products try Volusion (www.volusion.com)
2. Build Your Profile on the Most Important Sites
Build your profile on Facebook and LinkedIn. These are the two most important sites for the business community. Start building your list of friends by contacting people you know well.
3. Start a Blog
Get a blog up and running and make a commitment to yourself that you will keep it updated at least once a week, preferably daily. You don't need to always write long feature articles, but make sure what you do write is valuable to your audience. Make your blog posts highly focused on your niche subject. Don't dilute the content with stuff about your family and hobbies.
Make sure your blog links to your commercial website without promoting it too aggressively.
Services you can use for your blog include:
Wordpress.com www.wordpress.com - the world leader. Simple and flexible (paid)
Wordpress.org www.wordpress.org - free software you can use to set up your own blog. Needs some technical expertise (free, but you will need to pay for hosting)
Typepad www.typepad.com - fairly simple. Blogs look professional
Blogger www.blogger.com - free and very easy to setup but inflexible
4. Start Becoming Visible
Once you've got your website and blog set up it's time to get visible.
Start by participating in the most relevant blogs and forums. Make thoughtful comments which build your credibility. If appropriate, link to articles on your blog.
Whenever you make a comment ensure you link to either your blog or commercial website (or both) in the signature.
5. Settle into a Routine
Don't try to conquer the social media world in a week. Get into a routine with your blog and a few key sites. Start networking and building your list of friends.
6. Monitor Your Community. Expand Your Visibility
Remember it is better to participate regularly is a few sites rather than spread your expertise thinly across a lot of sites. However, you should continually keep an eye on what is happening in the broader community that impacts your niche.
The best way to do this is to set up tools that help you monitor a lot of blogs, forums and websites, with the minimum of effort. The tools you should consider are:
Netvibes www.netvibes.com - create your own home page with feeds from your favourite sites
Google Reader and iGoogle www.google.com/reader - a single place where you can setup your own page with information from lots of online sources
7. Focus on Your Credibility
Once you have started to make your presence felt you will start to build a list of followers. This is the time to focus on credibility because you have people who will listen.
Take articles from your blog and publish pages on Squidoo, Hubpages, Wikipedia and eHow
Setup a Twitter account and start Twittering
Join and become very active in any directly relevant communities
8. Enjoy it!
The reason why SMM has become so successful is because so many people enjoy being part of these online communities and mixing with people around the world who share their passion.
Evolve your SMM activity in a way that ensures you enjoy what you're doing.
Most SMM etiquette is common sense:
Help others with advice and support
If you've got nothing to say, say nothing
If you don't like the direction of chat, either be constructive or walk away. Avoid arguments and insulting people
Remember, whatever you publish on the web is there forever. Think before clicking publish'
SMM is important, but it is not some sort of magic bullet that will suddenly propel you or your company to stardom.
In fact, it is dangerous to call it marketing. It is closer to customer service, than it is to marketing and sales. It has to be driven by a real desire to help others, with no guarantee of receiving anything in return.
You can't jump in and out; it requires immersion and continual participation.
Most people underestimate the resources, time, dedication and passion it takes to build relationships across multiple communities.
But, if you persist, you will be rewarded.
Reputations take time to build, but once built they become opportunity magnets. As the old saying goes success breeds success'.
Lastly, it is worth saying; social media is not a passing trend.
It will evolve and change, but online networking will become as much a part of people's lives as the phone and email. You and your business will have to embrace it one day, so you might as well get used to it now.
Appendix 1 A List of the Most Popular Social Media Marketing Websites
I have mentioned in this article the sites and services that I think you should focus on. However, if you want to have a look around the web at what is happening in the social media space, here are some further sites to look at.
Publishing Websites and Services
Flickr www.flickr.com Photo publishing and sharing website
Twitter www.twitter.com Micro-blogging service
Wordpress www.wordpress.com Managed blogging service
Wordpress (free software) www.wordpress.org blogging software
Typepad www.typepad.com Managed blogging service
Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org world's biggest user-created online encyclopaedia
YouTube www.youtube.com video publishing and sharing website
Google Groups www.google.com/groups - online groups covering thousands of subjects
Squidoo www.squidoo.com site for publishing expert articles
Hubpages www.hubpages.com site for publishing expert articles
Yelp www.yelp.com online review website
Amazon www.amazon.com eCommerce site with the ability to write reviews
Sharing Websites and Services
Slashdot www.slashdot.org news site for techies
Propeller www.propeller.com bookmarking and aggregation site
Digg www.digg.com bookmarking and aggregation site
Socialmedian - www.socialmedian.com - bookmarking, discussion and aggregation site
StumbleUpon www.stumbleupon.com bookmarking and recommendations site
Newsvine www.newsvine.com news aggregation site
Skirt www.skirt.com news site for women
Reddit www.reddit.com bookmarking and aggregation site
Del.icio.us www.delicious.com social bookmarking website
Fark www.fark.com news aggregation and networking website
MySpace www.myspace.com world's biggest social network. Tends to be more focused on younger generation
Facebook www.facebook.com world's second largest social network. Older member profile
Bebo www.bebo.com social network. UK focus with younger members
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com networking site. Business focus
Friendster www.friendster.com social network. Aggregates communication with friends
Eons www.eons.com social network for older generation
Gather.com www.gather.com social network
Hi5 www.hi5.com social network
Previous: Part 1 - Introduction and Background to Social Media Marketing