Social networking is the process of using social tools and networks, which are widely available to the general public. Some of the most common and widely used social networks are sites such as Myspace, Squidoo, Classmates and Hi5. Some of the most common social tools are blogs, social book marking sites, social search engines and user driven news and content sites. This article describes the many different ways to take advantage of these free resources and use them to generate high quality traffic and leads to build your business.
Social network integration is the process of plugging into the existing online structure of different social networks such as Myspace, Squidoo and Hi5. To effectively integrate into the above mentioned networks you must forget everything you know about marketing and direct sales. These social sites are not marketer friendly; instead they are "friend" friendly, meaning that these sites are built on the concept of "friends" and you, as the marketer must approach the users as such.
Heavy sale pitches and bulletin spamming are not effective methods to advertise and market in Myspace and other similar networks. On the other hand building a great list of friends, which you actually help on a regular basis, will generate a huge amount of interest in you and your business.
Think of these social networks as a huge popularity contest where all people want is to be liked. Why do you think people put their pictures on their profiles and ask users for their comments? It is for the simple reason that they love to get positive feedback because it makes them feel good about themselves. Your job in these social networks as a marketer is to help people feel good about themselves and develop meaningful relationships.
In order to find like-minded individuals to add as friends you should take a look at the thousands of groups that people form. In all of the above-mentioned social networks, there are options to start and join user groups. These groups will have a main theme such as "online marketing," "body building" and many more. These groups are a great resource to find tons of other people who are interested in similar activities. This makes it much easier to develop relationships because you already relate to the other users by having similar interest.
Once you have a loyal group of friends you can them begin effectively using the bulletin system to send out Special Offers and Promotions. The reason the bulleting will work now, is because you now mean something to the other person, they have put your face to your name and are on a first name basis with you, so they are much more willing to open and read your bulletin than some random Joe you are spamming with your offer.
Another great use of groups is to create a joint venture with the owner of the group, as they have already established themselves as an authority and friend to their group members. Offer the group owners a percentage of sales in exchange for their endorsement of your product or offer to their group. This offer will benefit both you and the group owner and ultimately help build your credibility and popularity in the group.
-Blogging and RSS Feeds:
Blogs are great social tools because of their informal and personal approach to content. Instead of a visitor reading a formal sales pitch from a sales page, the visitor can read the actual thoughts and see the daily activities of the same marketer who wrote the sales pitch. This helps the marketer relate to the visitor on a more personal level, which in turn creates a sense of trust that ultimately helps to make the sale.
Blogs are responsible for the majority of your return traffic and backend sales. With that being said you should make daily post in your blog to keep your visitors coming back for more. Your post should be short and informative, but not boring and they should be written in your own voice and as informal as possible.
Social Bookmarking is a new phenomenon to hit the Internet and it is catching on very fast. Social Bookmarking sites are places where users can save and label (tag) their favorite websites. Some examples of Social Bookmarking websites are Del.icio.us, Furl, and Technoratti. These sites are great because the user can access these bookmarks from any computer with an Internet connection instead of having to be at a particular computer where their favorites are saved. These sites also allow users to share their book marked sites with one another, which gets the bookmarked sites extra traffic.
Recently it was released that Google's algorithm gives points to websites, which are socialized into these social bookmarking websites. This means hat the more occurrences of your website in these bookmarking engines the better ranking you get in Google. A quick way increase your website's rank, is by signing up for a lot of these sites and bookmarking your website. I recommend onlyweb.com because it has 20 of the most popular bundled into one so you only have to bookmark your websites once and it is updated in over 20 social bookmarking sites. You can also subscribe to groups such as the Social Bookmarking yahoo group in which all of the users help each other out by bookmarking each other's websites.
-Social Search Engines:
Social Search engines are user driven search engines in which users vote on the most relevant content. These have not become main stream, but you can bet that in the near future they will be. You can see that Google has already integrated some aspects of a user based voting system when you take a closer look at the Google toolbar. If activated, the users have access to a voting interface where they can vote positively or negatively on any website they land on. As of now this voting system does not hold too much weight in the algorithm, but you can bet that it will very soon. For a quick rank helper, install the Google toolbar and vote positively for each and every web page of your website.
-User Driven Content:
User driven content is another new phenomenon in which users can vote or digg on their favorite articles, news stories, videos and blogs. This Digg system can best be seen on Digg.com where the most popular stories will stay at the top where they will get a good amount of free publicity. This free publicity and digg voting system also tends to get the story indexed much higher in Google and other search engines. This user driven content site can be used to get your newly written articles voted to a popular level where they will get free publicity and ultimately bring free traffic to your website.
Social networking will be an integral part of the internet and it is up to you to either get on board or watch the wave pass you by. Don't wait, start your social networking campaign today, signup and start developing your profiles and making friends. Spend at least one day a week advancing your network of friends and using the tools to promote your business.