Seven is a magic number. Why? Because there are seven simple strategies every small business can employ to jump on the social marketing bandwagon. The best part: most require only a moderate investment of time and/or money.
1. Start Blogging – Blogging is old news to many. Not quite the distant past, but still not the future… sort of a Web 1.5. Is blogging what’s ‘hot’ at the moment? Well, no. It certainly doesn’t compare with chasing a link from the front page of Digg. But blogging is alive and well! It continues to be a great way to get interactively connected with your customers. ‘Dialoguing’ is the reason social marketing exists. How much time you invest in your blog is up to you, but you’ll get out what you put in. You don’t have to drive yourself crazy putting in daily entries, but you should establish a regular schedule for your blog updates. Otherwise, when people check your blog they’ll see the same-old/same-old so often that they’ll stop visiting your site… which is the whole reason you started the blog! So don’t shoot yourself in the foot by creating a blog that’s a visitor-repellent rather than a visitor-magnet.
Blogging is not a monologue. Your blog is not the electronic equivalent of Hamlet’s soliloquy. Just the opposite! Blogging is about creating conversations and joining others in progress. Take time to read what others in your industry are saying. Get in on the discussion (and get your name out there) by posting your comments on other blogs. It’s free, and again, the amount of time you invest can bring some very big returns. The beauty of blog posts is that you’ll almost always be encouraged to supply your name and URL when leaving a comment. This is a great way to build visibility and create a springboard to catapult traffic from other blogs to yours.
2. Take and Share Digital Photos – Flickr can be a tremendous marketing tool thanks to its incredibly active photo groups. The time and cost investment are minimal, and you can use Flickr to reach thousands of highly targeted prospects with compelling images of your product.
3. Be The Answer Man (or Woman) at Yahoo Answers – There’s one thing you have to provide that no one else does – your expertise. If you’re a service-based business, your knowledge is your #1 marketing tool. Yahoo Answers is a great place for you to hammer away at prospects. Imagine being the go-to person that people seek out. That’s who you’ll be at Yahoo Answers.
There’s no better way to share your expertise and make an instant and direct connection with potential customers. I know dozens of marketing pros like me who spent as little as an hour or two each week answering SEO and promotÃon-oriented questions there. They tell me that they’ve been able to track big results from even that small investment of time.
4. Get Into the Movie Business – Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but moving pictures are worth their weight in solid gold marketing. Fortunately, good video cameras are cheap these days, and a short video needs little editing/production work in today’s “everyone’s a filmmaker” environment. And if you’ve got the creative “chops” to add some sizzle to a video, go for it! Be the next Scorsese, if you can. Fortunately, the software you need to add special effects won’t break the bank. The most “viral” videos are usually spontaneous and unproduced… merely “captured” by a videographer. For marketing purposes, however, a produced video is the way to go… and a how-to video featuring your product is a good choice. If the look or location of your business is a selling point, “tour” videos – of a workplace , a restaurant, the homes you sell, the real estate you landscape, etc. – are your best bet.
Marketing videos are finding a home on local search portals like CitySearch. The find-it-in-your-town site announced that local video ads will be added to its listings. YellowPages.com is also exploring the idea of video opportunities.
Upload your videos to a unique page on your website or add them to your blog page. But don’t stop there! YouTube is the most obvious – and the most active – sharing destination. And there are so many others. Just nose around the web and you’ll find ’em.
5. Don’t Wait To Visit StumbleUpon.com – There are many so-called ‘discovery’ type sites in social marketing. The best-known are Digg, Reddit, and Netscape, but they’re also a bit complicated. StumbleUpon requires the lowest time investment. The site’s functionality makes it much quicker and easier to join groups related to your industry and add friends from those groups.
Once you’ve joined and created your lists, you can start to upload “sticky” (appealing to visitors) content and before you know it, other users will “stumble upon” what you’ve added. That’s when the “magic begins”. When visitors give your pages good feedback, your content is shown to even more users.
You can’t sell your product or service on StumbleUpon. The benefit it offers is increased traffic, which can lead to increased profÃts. Those profÃts are just a click away because your site is just a click away. Think of StumbleUpon as a way to raise awareness, Blog readership, grow subscribers, etc… all of which ultimately feed into your profit stream.
6. Join Up – A HUGE part of social marketing is detective work. You need to find your customers where they like to hang out. Well, if your customers are like most people on the planet, it’s pretty likely that they hang out at Yahoo Groups or Google Groups to share interests and opinions.
Fetch, Marketer! Go get those prospects.
Like Flickr, the groups at Yahoo and Google are organised into interest-based lists. When you join the lists and discussions, you can provide your expertise (there’s that word again) and become a trusted member of the community… the person that other people will want to do business with. There’s no better outcome to marketing than that!
7. Make Friends, Not Noise – As you explore social marketing opportunities across the web, be sensitive to the rules and regulations posted on various websites. As a member of a social community, it’s your obligation to play by the rules… so make sure you know them and follow them! But here’s one general rule for using these sites as marketing tools: Don’t spam the system. Flickr doesn’t want your entire product inventory posted, and they have rules against doing so. But a few high-quality photo submissions that add to the community are fine.
Whatever social marketing you do, make a contribution to the community. Try to add content and comments of value, not an endless spew of “Buy my product” messages. In other words, don’t be a leech that’s merely there to suck up prospects. Give back a little. Or, better yet, give back a lot! When you do that, you’re on the road to social marketing success. (Translation: more money than you’ll know what to do with!)
And remember, with social marketing we’re not talking about any old traffic. We’re talk about platinum, USDA Prime, pre-qualified, eager to do business, trusting, ready and willing prospects who don’t think of you as a business… they think of you as a friend.
So be a good friend. Deliver on the promise of quality and service. If you do that, social marketing will make you rÃch beyond your wildest dreams.
So stop dreaming and start marketing… socially.
About The Author
By Jonathan Jay: Founder and Managing Director of SuccessTrack. Helping Business Owners Make More Profit in Less Time With Less Effort. Strategies like that can explode your small business quickly, that’s why you should go right now to www.freemarketingbook.org and request a copy of Jonathan Jay’s new book “Marketing Secrets of a Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur”, a 72 page book with hundreds of practical ideas. About SuccessTrack – www.successtrackonline.com