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In the age of new media, how can we use them effectively to increase sales/business? How can you use new-age social media as a marketing channel?
Letâ€™s start from some basics to have a thought on this subject. People always neglect some simple facts, and thatâ€™s why most people fail in building a social media brand. This article is about how can we use even our simplest web activity as a marketing effort. Itâ€™s about how to use the power of social media as a powerful inbound marketing tool.
How to Select Your Media
This is an important and primary question to answer. Social media ranges from forums, blogs, vlogs, social bookmarks, social networks, micro blogs, etc. The type of media you select depends on how it relates to your industry/market. For example, if your business is based on automobiles, obviously you should find social media sites/portals aboutÂ the automotive industry (related to cars, bikes, automobile reviews, etc). If your business is hospitality, find media related to tourism, travels, etc. What you must consider is whether the social media you selected fits to your business and its market. If answer is YES, then go on. It doesn’t matter if it’s a forum, blog or social network, just make sure it’s niche-related.
How to Use Forums as Marketing Channels
Most people consider forums as cheap or donâ€™t value them much as powerful tool for marketing. Actually, forums can do something â€œbigâ€ if you use them properly. Itâ€™s obvious that all the new age web 2.0 social media we see today are an extension/expansion from the basic concept of forums in one way or another. What many people do is just register in some forums, participate in some threads and they might not bother much.
How can you generate some business from your participation in forums? Here are some basic suggestions:
- The first thing you must do is complete your personal profile when you register on any social media site (this is the most basic stuff).
- The next big thing is to find out where you can place a link to your official/personal website. This is highly important, as this â€œlinkâ€ acts as the key to contact you for any means (sometimes a potential client).
- Make your profile look original and personalize it to any extent you can.
- Put a signature link (a link to your official/personal website) in every forum you join.
Simply registering in a forum with a complete profile will not help you generate business. You must actively participate in discussion boards, reply to active threads, and create appealing new articles/threads.
Build your brand!
This is a universal law. For the industry/media/people you choose, the value you get for your words depends highly on your â€œbrand.â€ For example: American presidents’ words appeals more than Russian presidents. The case is similar in forums — if you are reputable, if you have a large number of posts/threads, if people value your words, you will build your brand gradually. Â When someone contacts you for business, you will enjoy this brand value for sure.
This plays another key role in branding/developing a smart profile. Your attitude should be based on one & only one â€œHELPâ€. Other members in the forums must feel you are here to â€œhelp.â€ When someone asks some doubts or some questions, give them quiet, good answers and you will see your reputation building up.
Making personal relationships
Making good human relationships with other active members of the forum and disclosing your identity will surely help. When you introduce yourself to a new person, immediately say, “Who you are? What company do you work for? What are your companyâ€™s products/services?” If possible, try to tell your new contact how you can help him/her with your products/services to improve his business. Try to re-connect with many useful members frequently.
Thereâ€™s a lot more to write about forums, but I need to go through many other media so I’ll move on. However, what I have written about forums applies to all other media–it’s all basic stuff that helps with Internet marketing.
How Blogs Can Bring You Business
A deep understanding of your business and market will let you know what niche you should blog about. It’s better to start blogging on your companyâ€™s official website — this will increase credibility of your content and blog and add value to your company.
Design and content
A beautiful, attractively designed blog with compelling content will drive natural, relevant traffic to your blog. You need to update this blog daily with the latest, worthy content of your niche. People from different locations may visit your blog via organic results, referrals, or some other social media channels. Some 3 to 5% of these visitors might be looking for products/services that you sell. This may certainly lead to conversions. You must also do SEO/SEM/SMO to bring traffic to your blog. Invite other brand people in your niche to do guest blogging, which can also improve your referral traffic.
- A complete, personalised â€œAbout Meâ€ page on your blog (add your photo too).
- A special dedicated page â€œAbout your company,â€ detailing your products/services with beautiful pictures.
- A good â€œContact Me/Contact Usâ€ page. You should also include your email and contact links in social networking profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
How blog commenting will help
You might have heard of/worked with many people offering â€œDo follow blog commentingâ€ services. But I donâ€™t worry about whether the commenting is do follow or no follow. What you must do is make appealing comments to blog posts related to your niche, but don’t forget to type in your name and website. If your comment is very good or appealing, people may look to know more about you by visiting your website, which may lead to conversions. You are lucky if you can get into healthy fights in â€œcommentingâ€ (like comment baiting) because such activities will make you noticeable. Chances are that people may visit your blog/website/social profile more often.
How guest blogging helps in marketing
Find some good blogs related to your niche and contact them for guest blogging (most people will agree to let you blog since it provides them with free content). Now write a compelling article related to your industry/market, revealing who you are with a link to your website. Also, donâ€™t forget to write a one liner on what you do and what your company is about.
How to Use Social Networks
Social networks can help in different ways, but the most helpful one is LinkedIn, as it’s dedicated to business networking. Facebook also needs to be considered. Here too, the basic stuff is creating an appealing profile. In LinkedIn, complete your profile with all the achievements/expertise/credentials you can show. After building a profile, start building your network by adding new connections. While selecting a new connection to add, be sure itâ€™s worthy. Always select people related to your industry, and consider who can refer you some business, who can bring you sales, etc. Be helpful in LinkedIn as well–your attitude plays a key role!
Participating in Groups/Communities
LinkedIn offers a good platform for active discussion in Groups. You can also bring traffic to your blog via LinkedIn groups. Write an appealing/controversial post in your blog, and then post that link in a LinkedIn discussion board with a catchy excerpt/one liner. While writing controversial posts, be sure to take a neutral stand or not to hurt a person, which is not a good practice. Similar activity can be done in forums, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform.
Using Social Bookmarks
How to use Digg, StumbleUpon, etc is a well discussed topic everywhere. If you can get enough diggs to bump your submission to the front page/”popularâ€ category, you can receive a load of traffic.Â You can follow this link for a great article about social bookmarks.
Create an attractive complete profile with links to your personal blog/official website. Here the difference is only in what to create. So far you were to write articles/content, but here it’s a video which can help in marketing. Create a video (shoot a new one) or an animation related to your industry and then upload. Donâ€™t forget to add credits to the video. You can get more traffic if you can create the video based on a good concept/story. Creating fun/satirical videos will also win huge traffic. People watching this video may look at your profile or visit the website shown in the credits, so you are improving your chances of a sale.
Using Micro Blogging Services for Marketing
I will start with a recent example. Last week Dell, using its Twitter account, announced a sale. The discount sale was only for Twitter users, and it worked! Dell has about 50K+ followers on Twitter, and their sale announcements have always worked well. Each of the Twitter users who follow Dell will alert their followers by tweeting them about the offer. With a single tweet, Dell got a chance to expose their offer to 50K people and, additionally, got another 50K tweets about the offer. What an awesome idea! Dell’s decision to limit its sale to Twitter users is another key point because it gives a personalised discount feeling, which will work far better than a general offer.
I hope the Dell story alone is enough to make you aware of the power of social media as a marketing channel. I am winding up my article here and will share my new thoughts in coming articles. To end, practicing the tips given above gives you a chance to expose your products and services via social media marketing. Today I’ve written about the basics of inbound marketing. Studies have proven that Inbound marketing efforts have a 60% chance on closure of a sale, whilst outbound techniques have less than 30%.