Social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and blogs consistently rank high in search results. This means you have more opportunities to increase visibility, build your brand and learn about your audience if you’re utilizing social media. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are a few simple steps to get started.
Create Your Profile
Major social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have large and diverse audiences. Smaller social networks offer a more targeted group. First, do some research and decide which social networks are right for your business based on what you know about your target audience and what social networks out there fit their demographics and interests. Then visit the social sites you choose, sign up and start adding content to your profiles. Make sure you include relevant business information, contact info and a link to your website. Look at other businesses’ profiles for inspiration first.
Business networking sites offer the same benefits in search position and help you grow your professional network and establish credibility in your industry. Create a profile on LinkedIn, IncBizNet, ZoomInfo, Spoke, Jigsaw and others to start networking.
- Do: Complete your profile and make sure the design and tone reflects your business, marketing and branding strategies.
- Don’t: Forget to link to your website and keep your profiles up-to-date and consistent across sites.
You don’t have to have your own blog to start blogging. There are millions out there that allow you to participate in the conversation by posting and commenting. Ask colleagues what blogs they read, or use Google’s Blog Search to find blogs and posts your audience is likely reading. Check the blogrolls (a list of that blogger’s favorite blogs) of the blogs you like. It’s a great way to find other, related blogs.
- Do: Be consistent and develop a dialogue. You won’t see results by dropping a comment here or there.
- Don’t: Get involved in conversations about competitors. Focus on building the visibility of your company and talking with your audience.
Share Photos and Video
Whether you have existing videos or photos on your website or just a few photos of company events, posting them on photo and video sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube is another opportunity to appear in search results and show your audience who you are.
- Do: Post content that your audience wants to see. These are not places to share internal training videos.
- Don’t: Disappoint visitors who return regularly looking for more videos or photos. Keeping adding to your collection.
Planning Can Make the Difference
Social media is an ongoing process. You’re participating in an online conversation, and you’ll only benefit from social media as long as you stay involved. Make a plan for long-term success.
- What are your goals? Are you looking to increase your rank in search results, communicate with your audience or build your professional reputation?
- Who are you talking to? Do you want to reach your customer, or are you looking to build your reputation in your industry by communicating with other professionals?
- Where is your audience? In addition to large social networks, blogging, video and photo sharing sites, there are many niche options that target more specific groups. Look around to find your best options.
- Who will participate? Will one or a few company representatives be participating and keeping up with your social media strategy? With fewer people, it’s easier to assure rules are followed and your message is consistent.
- What are your guidelines? Lay down some basic rules for your social media communications. What do you want discussed online?
In very little time you can be a part of the social media marketing movement -communicating, building your brand and hearing the voice of your audience.