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It use to be enough for a small business to market its services with advertising and public relations. But in the last few years, an avalanche of new opportunities has cascaded on the Internet in the form of social networking sites.
These sites give businesses more opportunities to get the word out about their companies, but they’ve also made most of us feel overwhelmed, trying to keep up.
1. Identify the advantages and limitations of social networking sites. Identify the sites where you should be putting your time. You can’t be everywhere, by researching the advantages and disadvantages, you have a better chance to reach them your audience.
2. Research the competition. What is your position in the market and how are you going to convey that to your customers online. See who else is out there and what they are going. It may not just be a local business, but a similar business in another city may be doing something you can leverage in your market.
3. Listen. Before you can do much more, get on the email lists, join the groups, connect with people, and follow them. Get involved by listening to what others are doing. Be cautious when getting into social media, you don’t want your first impression to be a bad one.
4. Determine your goals. What do you want to get out of the social networking site? Realistic expectations will lay the foundation for success. Do you want to drive 10% more traffic to your site? Increase the number of download a white paper by x number of visitors? Drive traffic (x customers) to your location ? Be specific in your goals and make them realistic. You should have both short and long term goals.
5. Make a plan. Managing your social networking visibility can be a full-time job. Making a plan and strategically integrating it into your marketing efforts will help to define your expectations and make your social networking intentional. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are a start but don’t forget on commenting on blogs and posting to groups.
6. Build on results. Keep track of where you are getting leads, comments and responses.
While there may be an attraction to “free” social networking, you can waste time and efforts if you are not intentional and have a plan.
© 2009 LaChapelle Design