If your an internet marketer, affiliate marketer, entrepreneur or someone who wants to use internet marketing on social networks, there are a few tactics and strategies you'll need to consider before going after your intended target market.
Taking the time to carefully construct a social marketing campaign plan can be the difference between success and dismal results. Here are 7 marketing strategies, tactics and questions I would consider before attempting to use social media and social networks for marketing online.
1. What is the Ultimate Goal you are Wanting to Achieve?
Are you wanting to use social networks to brand yourself or your company? If so, then your approach would be entirely different than someone who is simply wishing to create numerous backlinks from high authority page ranked social sites. A branding campaign would obviously require a bit more time and effort. If your simply taking the shotgun approach and trying to get backlinks in an effort to rank highly in the search engines, then you may want to create a buffer between your social network profiles and social bookmarking efforts. In other words, once you have used the social bookmarking sites and have created social network profiles that have a link pointing back to your site, promote and link those sites which already have authority in order to give your main site a little extra boost.
2. Hobby or Money Site?
If your utilizing social networks to promote your hobby/special interest site then you probably don't need to overthink your overall social media campaign. On the other hand, if your in this to make money, then your social networking profile and efforts need to reflect this in a balanced way. Add a fair amount of info, photos, videos and content to your profiles so that you do not give off the vibe that your simply on the social site to promote yourself or your site. Take the time to search out friends with relevant interests, as opposed to getting trigger happy with friends requests. Join groups that fall within the target market you should have already identified. Lastly, although you need to add content to your profiles to mix it up a bit, remember that your trying to drive potential prospects into your sales funnel or your offer. Your overall goal of your social networking profile should be focused on this, otherwise you might as well just consider your efforts a hobby.
3. Who is your Target Audience / Market / Niche?
This may seem obvious to some, but you should consider who it is your trying to market to on social networks. Hopefully you've done your homework, researched your niche and determined the demographics of who is most likely to be interested in your offer or what your promoting. For example, lets say you've identified that males between the ages of 45-55 are more likely to be interested in your offer, website your promoting, etc. It would not make much sense to spend an enormous amount of time on a social network who's main user audience generally tends to be 14-21 years old. It's a lot like traffic generation. Untargeted traffic, at the end of the day, will only eat up your bandwidth and focusing your efforts on social networks that don't match up with your target audience will only eat up your time.
It can be quite tedious and time consuming to create profiles, upload content, manage friends requests, and everything else that goes along with participating and marketing on social networks. If you have the financial means to do so, you may want to consider outsourcing the tasks of signing up on social networks and maintaining the day to day activities that go with it. If your just starting out, and have more time on your hands than money in your pocket to burn, you'll probably want to manage your social profiles yourself. On the other hand, only you can determine what your time is worth. You may just find that its worth spending X amount of dollars per month to outsource your social networking efforts so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
5. Consider Purchasing Advertising Space
Most social networks offer advertising space and in most cases it's relatively inexpensive. Maybe you would like to determine whether its even worth creating a presence on a certain social site. Why not run a small test campaign to see how responsive your target audience is on a given network? Most sites enable you to drill down by various demographics for your ad campaigns, use that to your advantage and test the waters out. If your ads and offers are converting, keep the ad running and then take the time to either create a presence on that social network or outsource that task.
6. Remember Why Your There in the First Place
It's easy to get distracted in our day to day lives. Nowhere is that probably more evident than on the web, and it could be argued that social networks are the biggest time waster of them all for some people. It's very easy to look up from your monitor and realize you just spent 30 minutes Twittering about nothing, an hour and a half watching and rating viral videos on YouTube, adding friends, blocking friends that turn out to be spammers, ignoring spammy bulletins and friends statuses on MySpace, installing apps on Facebook, stumbling on StumbleUpon, Sphinning hoping others Sphinn you back...and before you know it 3 hours have gone by and what have you accomplished? Oh and don't forget, you haven't even checked your email yet. After you skim through the spam that made it past your junk folder, and the emails from all the social sites, the "so-and-so" is now following you on Twitter (who happens to be following 3,000 other people while only being followed by perhaps 5 people). Are your beginning to get the picture?
Social Networks can be a great place to market your offers, brand yourself and your companies considering the sheer number of people who hangout and interact on these sites. Just remember not to loose track of time, stay focused on your original reason for being on these sites in the first place. It can be a great to make some new friends, network a little and all that. But if your main reason for using social networks is to market yourself or your services and lead people into your sales funnel, remember that and focus your time strategically.
7. Create a Presence on Smaller Niche Based Social Networks
If you came across a social network that happened to consist of a small group of avid enthusiasts pertaining to the niche market you just happened to be targeting or had an particular interest in yourself, for example, a golfing social network and you were trying to market a golfing product online as an affiliate... would you consider creating a social profile presence on that particular site? Would you consider buying advertising space on that niche based social site? What if the site was just launched and had not yet built up a member base yet, but the site looked like it had a lot of potential? There are numerous niched based social networking sites coming online these days. While there is obviously room for more than just one or two players in any given niche based social networking site category, the ones that come across as complete cookie-cutter sites, out-of the box scripts and that are never able to attain a decent sized member base will eventually fold and close up shop if the niche is a fairly competitive one. Others will grow over time, evolve and be a gathering point of people who share similar interests. Why not create a profile on these niche based sites before there are 100's if not 1000's of members so that your profile is the one new members see first? Some of these niched based social sites are like diamonds in the rough, just waiting to be mined, that will grow over time into a highly targeted user base just waiting to be marketed to with a relevant offer. Personally, I'd much rather market to 50 - 100 people on a smaller network whom were obviously prequalified, targeted leads as opposed to joining a social site with millions of members and have a 1000 friends to contend with whom are not the least bit interested in the niche I was targeting or the offer I was trying to present. While your creating a presence on the larger social sites like Facebook and MySpace, try to identify some of the smaller social networking sites coming online that pertain to your market/target niche and create a presence there while these sites are in their infancy. Who knows, you may just discover a few niche based social networks that turn out to be hidden goldmines for your market before your competitors do.
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