Are you making full use of social media?

08/05/2009 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

I don’t mind admitting that when I read that Tony Treacy had listed social media sites ordered by Google Page Rank in his Guide to Social Media Master Directories I shuddered; using social media for backlinks to try and improve how your website is listed to get you more traffic is missing what social media is all about. For many, web marketing means getting website traffic and ensuring your are Number 1 for your relevant search terms can become an obsession. There can only be one Number 1 and chasing the top slot can be time consuming; or expensive, if you throw money at Google Adwords or a search engine expert to get you there and keep you there. But clicks aren’t currency: you can’t bank them, pay staff with them or pay suppliers with them. Traffic is a means to an end. The only reason we chase traffic is in the hope that some of those who click through will engage with us.

Social media takes the whole task of engaging with customers and potential customers to a different plane. Build a network of meaningful relationships on a social network and you can find people approaching you because they’re interested in what you do and want you to help them. They’ll happily share their needs with you, inviting your help. You don’t need them to go to your website because you’re already in dialogue with them.

Get social media right and you can easily have dialogue with potential customers or suppliers straight off, achieving the point that you ultimately aim to reach through e-mail marketing, telephone cold calling and search engine placement in a flash. Get it wrong by attempting to use your relationship with others to get them to your website, to click this or that and you risk pushing them away when you really have the ideal platform to start conversation with them — and many of them at once.

Social networking isn’t an aim in itself, but a means to an end. The same as any marketing, offline or online. Any business’s real goal is to be in dialogue with people who have a need for what they do. Make that your goal through social networking and focus on the quality of what you post as a conversation starter, not as a way of getting clicks or seeding networks with links.

With this in mind, it makes sense to choose with care where you network. Don’t focus on the sites that are most popular if they don’t give you access to your target market. Post on subjects of interest to your market; ask questions and encourage responses; get them to share what they need and what interests they have. These are classic selling techniques, but don’t obviously “sell” — social networks are for building relationships, not putting people off by being pushy.

The potential for small businesses to use networks to make new contacts and build relationships are enormous, even if you haven’t found your website achieving all you expected. But don’t worry about your website, as social networks could provide a much more effective web presence if you take the time and formulate the strategy to get it right.

Feel welcome to post your own thoughts on this below — I’d love to read them.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

LinkedIn and data portability – Part III Poll: Which of your online identities would you prefer to use to log into your business focused social networks?

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