No matter what you sell on the Internet today whether it is eBooks, products you have to mail out for services that you provide yourself you need to find customers. That much is certain but the more creative you are at finding those customers the more successful you are likely to be. And that’s why it is in your best interests to become familiar with social networking sites. Not to tell people all about what you do in your spare time or to share the intimate details of your life with, but to use as a method to gain more business. Yes, there are thousands of customers to be found on these sites. Despite the fact that they are intended for social purposes, they can be used for business purposes too. You just need to know how to do it. And there is no doubt that the people who are doing it already are reaping the rewards. There are such a high proportion of internet users who are members of at least one social networking site that you are ignoring a huge number of potential customers if you don’t at least try it. Facebook alone has over a hundred million users as of the middle of 2008, so you can see just how big an opportunity this is.
But I can guarantee that once you HAVE tried marketing to your audience in this way, you won’t want to stop.
TO START WITH – DO YOUR HOMEWORK
This is vital if you are going to get some good results. Some social networking sites are quite lenient when it comes to members using them for business purposes. Others are completely against it. You need to know exactly where you stand with each one before you get started, because if you take a laid back approach with a site that doesn’t like it, you won’t get anywhere. This part is easy though. All you need to do is read the terms and conditions of each site that you are interested in, to see how promotional you are allowed to be. The more you know up front, the better you will be able to integrate yourself into each website. You should also take a look round and see what other people have done. But be careful with this approach because you may well come across people who have broken the rules and haven’t been discovered yet. And you certainly don’t want to join them, do you?
DON’T OVERDO IT
Before we get into how to make the most of social networking for business purposes, we should cover one important point. There are a lot of social networking sites online today, and it can be tempting to join them all. But this can actually harm your chances of marketing successfully through them. It works far better to join just two or three social networking sites rather than as many as you can. Just think about the amount of free time you have available each week. If you focus your efforts on a few sites rather than a lot, you’ll get far better results. Why? Simply because the people who start to follow you on the sites you do use will expect you to be reasonably active on there. And if you are trying to keep up with half a dozen or more sites, you will naturally be spreading yourself a lot thinner. And that means the effect will be diluted as well. So make sure you choose the best networks with the most people – and stick with them. And here we’re talking about the networks that have millions of followers. You won’t be aiming to connect with all of them, but you’ll soon find that you have a bigger niche audience to aim at – which is good news when it comes to making money. Incidentally when you are thinking about the sites that you should be joining, think about the type and age group of people who are using each site. You may need to do a bit of research here but it will be worth it. One site may have a huge audience comprised of college graduates, while another may feature a lot more young professionals. And if you are aiming at young professionals, then that first site – no matter how many users it has – won’t be the ideal one for you to join.
•TWO POPULAR SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY THINK ABOUT JOINING
Please note that these are my personal favorites. They are well worth considering for different reasons, which I shall reveal as we take a quick look at each one. So let’s take the guided tour, shall we?FACEBOOK
The biggest social networking site out there today. And it doesn’t mind you promoting your business either – the right way, which is why it gets on my top three list. You can actually join by proclaiming that you are a business and opening a business account, but you should be aware that you can’t then have a personal account as well. The rules regarding this are quite complex, so it’s worth checking out the help section before joining.
If you want big results for less work, then Twitter is the site for you. Why write a long message to people who are interested in what you have to say when 140 characters will do? That’s all you get to communicate with on Twitter, but it makes it easy to keep busy on the site. A minute or two here and there and you will soon have plenty of followers hanging onto your every word. Some people have even created a series of necessarily short pieces of advice, labeling them ‘1 of 12’ and so on, to create interest. It works well, too, and simply experimenting with using the 140 character limit to your advantage can create some good results.
•THINK SEO – BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Very few people think of putting keywords into their profiles at the various social networking sites. But keywords can bring you traffic on these sites just as they can all across the web. Most if not all social networking sites give you the opportunity to search for other members. Now think about how you would do this. If you knew the screen name of a specific member you’d type that in. But if you wanted to find other people who were as interested in your hobby or favorite subject as you are, you’d type in the name of your hobby, right? So if you have written a book on cars, type the word ‘cars’ into the search box and see what you get back. The same applies to whatever subject you might be promoting. So what you need to do is to make a list of the most popular keywords that are connected to your subject. Think about what people will look for and make sure those keywords are carefully peppered through your profile and your description. For example, you might describe yourself as an eBook writer who specializes in books about saving money. You can then add that in your spare time you focus on scouring the internet for new ways to save money on your household bills and so on. Do you get the idea? You’re presenting that professional face to people, but integrating it into your profile in a way that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch. If you overdo it you will certainly get the opposite effect that you are after. People know when they are being sold to, so you should always ensure that your writing comes across naturally. That should come before anything else. The same goes for any comments you add to your profile, or entries you add to your blog in the case of MySpace, or tweets you make in the case of Twitter. Don’t overdo it, but the odd keyword slipped in here and there won’t do anyone any harm – least of all you.
All these experience will pay off as you move forward with your Blog or website. Each of them is critical and getting your brand out there and getting recognized. It might take a few months but before you know it people with know you as an expert in your chosen Niche!