Increasing numbers of people are looking to the Internet for information, opportunities and entertainment and that trend will continue. Understanding that a website is an increasingly effective strategy to reach a larger community, expand brand awareness and build relationships and trust in your target market is key to maintaining a successful website. Any person or organization that lacks a strong Internet presence will lose valuable market share to competitors willing to embrace this concept.
Strong websites are viewed by the public as a resource, and as such the resource must focus on providing valuable information along with a mix of entertainment and education. This goal should be primary to any organization or individual engaged in maintaining a serious online presence. If done correctly this strategy will become the cornerstone of building a growing community of visitors who come back to the site regularly, share the site with their friends and even influence search engines through their activity. Search engines are always looking for portals that are valuable to the Internet community and rank those that are most popular higher in their search results. An effective campaign can greatly improve a sites ranking and increase brand awareness.
Using social media to promote your website is a vital step in the process of building an online community and is really not hard to do, but it does take quite a bit of work. Keep in mind that online marketing is not a one-time event. You can not expect results if you simply run a single campaign for a couple weeks and then stop. Even with Pay-per-click advertising you will only get results as long as you are running the campaign. So remember with Internet marketing it’s about long term commitment and consistency.
Equally important to remember is that online marketing can not be turned on and left idle if you want to benefit from it. Maintaining a continuous connection with your target audience, even if nobody is listening is a critical point that many fail to realize. Persistence is a key component to a successful campaign so be prepared to work your campaign a minimum of 2 to 3 times per week and several times each day if possible.
With these principles in mind, I’ve put together a short list of social media sites that I consider to be most important when starting a social media campaign.
My favorite and most used social networking tool is Twitter. I’m constantly sharing links to interesting articles that I read online, as well as articles I write myself. It’s good to stay active in any social network that you become involved with, since others are there for similar reasons. It’s best to approach social networking with a giving attitude, since followers will quickly get tired of self promotion, or lack of activity, and leave you behind for someone more interesting. Be sure to customize your Twitter profile with a background image, profile image and short bio along with the URL to your personal website.
Feel free to checkout my personal Twitter page for some ideas
Facebook is the number two most visited website in the world and to ignore it’s popularity and not have a presence there is just not good business. Anyone interested in building an online community, gaining readers for your blog, visitors for your website or subscribers for your online newsletter should absolutely have a Facebook profile. Additionally, Facebook allows it’s members to setup custom pages for projects, events, branding and anything else that might be interesting to Facebook users. Facebook pages can also be advertised within the vast Facebook website for a very reasonable cost per click. Here’s my company Facebook Page if you’d like to see it.
I first discovered About.me while it was still in beta and now it’s quickly becoming one of the faster growing social media sites on the web. It’s a simple to use free portal where you can display links to your other online places.
Again I’ve included a link to my personal About.me profile for you to see
Not much needs to be said about LinkedIn other then it’s continuing to grow and it’s another popular place to network and grow your brand. It’s also slightly more business oriented then FB and Twitter so many people are choosing to use their LinkedIn as a professional online profile over the other options. LinkedIn
Google’s approach to the social media trend is definitely a twist from what everyone else is doing, in my opinion. By integrating social media tools directly into Gmail, I think G has taken a step in the right direction. This move certainly won’t hurt FB or Twitter, but I’m likin it none the less. GooglePlus
I’ve been running Internet marketing campaigns for several years and have found that the best results are obtained when you think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. A phrase I’ve always liked is “it doesn’t matter how you start, it only matters how you finish”. In other words starting strong is good, but maintaining a strong steady pace and finishing strong, is far more important to achieving your goals.
How does this apply to Social Media? Don’t post 10 times in one day and then nothing for the next three weeks. Instead, breakup your posts and do one or two every other day. maintaining a constant connection with your online community is more likely to bring positive results then if you just reach out to them occasionally. Not that an occasional message is a bad thing, but that strategy works better with an online newsletter or blog post, not with social networking but that’s a different topic.