sm4The key to every site’s success is through good marketing and promotion. Even if you have really good and substantial content on your site, you still need to promote it to avoid getting left behind the competition. In the internet community, the best way to achieve an increase in website traffic and revenue is to take advantage of social media. When used correctly, this tool can provide a platform for brand awareness, exposure, networking, and a huge boost in traffic & sales.

Since there are so many different definitions of social media, let’s clarify what we’re talking about here. Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.

Listening: Gathering intelligence on your market and your customer

  1. Build sentiment measurements – “showing how people feel about a subject and how those feelings are changing over time.” Listen on the web for people talking about your customers.
  2. Research into those bloggers that might care about your customer and their needs.
  3. Build conversation maps for your customers using Technorati.com, Google, Blogsearch, Summize, and FriendFeed.
  4. Search and collect bookmark statistics on social media success stories. Label them “social media stats”.
  5. Scan Summize.com for data listed in Twitter pertaining to your product, your space and your competition.
  6. Use WebsiteGrader.com as the first stop to understanding the SEO dynamics and on-page SEO quality of your website.
  7. Stop by Compete.com to help understand your site’s traffic. Then, compare it to your competitors’.
  8. Don't ask for too much information from your customers when giving away a freebie. Instead, spread it out and collect little bits of info over time.
  9. Track inbound links to your site. When they come from others blogs, be sure to comment on a few posts to develop a relationship with that blogger.
  10. Seek out those in your field and ask their opinions on your social media efforts. This is a great way to network and build relationships.

Talking: Engaging in a two-way discussion to get your message out (and get messages in)

  1. Build blogs and teach techniques for conversational marketing and business relationship building.
  2. Check out Twitter as a way to show a company’s personality. (Don’t fabricate this).
  3. Couple your email newsletter content with additional website content on a blog for improved commenting.
  4. Try out a short series of audio podcasts or video podcasts as content marketing and see how they draw.
  5. Experiment with the value of live video like uStream.tv and Mogulus, or Qik on a cell phone.
  6. Don’t forget early social sites like Yahoo groups and Craigslist. They still work remarkably well.
  7. Practice delivering quality content on your blogs, so that customers feel educated, equipped, and informed.
  8. Turn your blog into a mobile blog site with Mofuse.
  9. Ensure you offer the basics on your site, like an email alternative to an RSS subscription. In fact, the more ways you can spread and distribute your content, the better.
  10. Research how NOT to pitch to bloggers. A great source of info: Susan Getgood.
  11. Try your hand at video interviews, video press releases and podcasts to build more intimate relationships.
  12. Use your creative vision (or enlist someone to help you) experiment with different lengths and formats for you video. Is a brief and entertaining video better than a longer but more informative one? Test features in more than one hosting platform, browser, OS, etc.

Energizing: Letting your customers give testimonials on your behalf (viral, word of mouth)

  1. Add social bookmark links to your most important web pages and/or blog posts to improve sharing.
  2. For every video project purchased, ensure there’s an embeddable web version for improved sharing.
  3. Learn how tagging and other metadata improve your ability to search and measure the spread of information. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata)
  4. Download the Social Media Press Release (pdf) and see what parts you want to use in your traditional press releases.
  5. Help customers and prospects connect with you on your various networks. Consider a Lijit Wijit or another aggregator widget.
  6. Help spread good tips, articles, solutions for customers; Retweet, Digg, or Bookmark them. Others will thank you.

Supporting: Getting your customers to support each other

  1. Build community platforms around real communities of shared interest.
  2. Help companies participate in existing social networks, and build relationships on their turf.
  3. Experiment with Flickr and/or YouTube groups to build media for specific events.
  4. Start a community group on Facebook or Ning or MySpace or LinkedIn around the space where your customer does business. Good source of information is, Jeremiah Owyang.
  5. Learn what other free tools might work for community building, like MyBlogLog.
  6. Remember that the people on social networks are all people, have likely been there a while, might know each other, and know that you’re new. It’s important to try new territories, but tread gently.
  7. Voting mechanisms like those used on Digg.com show your customers you care about which information is useful to them.

Embracing: Building better products and services through collaboration with clients

  1. Investigate whether your product sells better by recommendation versus education. Use wikis and widgets to help recommend, or use videos and podcasts for education.
  2. Try using the same tools internally that your already using externally and learn how this social media can impact your business.

The bottom line is that you want to have a clear objective, be a valuable resource, and use the social media services in the ways they intend to be used. Anything else will get you filtered out, unfollowed, banned or blacklisted and ultimately be a complete waste of your time.