Online Marketing Through Social Networking Sites (Part 2

In part 1, I introduced the concept of social networking sites and how to begin online networking. This month, in part 2, I detail some more specific networking and marketing techniques.

Keep it Real

Just as with every new communication technology, there are those who use the medium in overbearing, unwanted ways. Social networking sites are no different. The key term here is “networking,” give and take. According to Bob Baker, author of MySpace Music Marketing, social networking success stories have one thing in common: “They’re all about the ping-pong effect ? It’s you sharing yourself with and getting to know dozens, and then perhaps hundreds of people. In turn, those people mention you to their friends.”

It’s NOT about posting, sending and otherwise spamming hundreds or thousands of others. Because interaction is a key feature of these sites, the potential for backlash is enormous. Social networking sites are back-and-forth communication forums, not broadcast media. Annoy or abuse people and they’ll tell the world.

So what can you do on these sites? How exactly does one share his/herself and get to know people?

Basic Online Marketing Principles

There are certain basic online marketing principles that apply when networking online. Among them:

- First and foremost, no spam. Communication should be individual and meaningful, not bulk, impersonal nonsense.

- On a related note, do not use automated software to post generic comments or messages in bulk.

- When emailing or messaging, unobtrusively remind people of what you do through your signature. Include your name; clickable Website URL; tagline or short mission statement; and/or other contact information in the signature.

Finding Connections

—– Sidebar on Terminology. Those you connect with are termed differently across different social networking sites. “Friends,” “connections,” your “network” and “subscribers” all describe online associates. Here, I use “network” and “connections.” —–

A critical component of successful networking (both in the physical and cyber worlds) is finding quality connections. On social networking sites, first think about the types of people you want to connect with (see “Whom to Interact With” in part 1. Then use a variety of methods to find them:

- Use the site’s search features to find connections by their psychographic or demographic features (religion, age, gender, geographic location, interests, likes/dislikes, etc.)

- Each time you find a new connection, look for additional connections in her or his network.

- Study comments on your connections’ pages ? or those outside your network with similar interests ? for potential new connections.

Approaching People to Become a Part of your Online Network

After finding potential connections, approach them about becoming part of your network. Ways to do this include:

- Send a friend request to each.

- Post thoughtful, relevant comments on their pages (which also creates new links to your page).

- Return comments on your page with relevant ones on the commenter’s’ page.

- When contacting someone, send a private message and leave a comment on her or his page.

Working your Network

The flip side of finding potential connections is having potential connections find you. There are several things you can do to become more approachable:

- Your page is the first thing people see when researching you, so keep it appealing. Regularly review comments others have left and delete irrelevant or crude remarks.

- Add new content to your page often, giving people a reason to visit regularly.

- Set aside time to respond to comments and messages.

Like all worthwhile business relationships, online networks must be nurtured. Make the effort to do so, and over time you will reap the rewards.



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