Friday, January 29, 2010

10 Commandments of Social Networking By Melanie J Rivera

Businesses need a cost-effective way to stay afloat in the recession, to stay in the forefront of customers' minds. The easiest way? Social media marketing. To some business owners, this seems like an impossible maze. Read below for 10 commandments of social media marketing.

People were talking about your company last month - on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Digg, Technorati, and the list goes on. Social media is here to stay. Make a plan, or better yet - work with someone who can help you with this plan, and put it into action. Professional marketers and virtual assistants are trained to work with this type of ever-changing medium. Your customers are expecting a social media presence from you - give it to them!

10 Commandments of Social Networking

1) Use It! Top companies such as Starbucks, Dell and Ford use social media to communicate and market to their customers. Creating stellar content for your marketing materials is great. But great content doesn't distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss it, blog it and tweet it, which is where social media comes in.

2) Find Them! Locate the exact people you want to talk to. Companies can select specifics - moms of teenagers, young professionals, those looking to buy a new car. Learn how to search for people based on their age, location and preferences. For example, a wedding planner could look up everyone in the area that is engaged!

3) Foster the Trust! You know your customers have choices when it comes to where they do business. You also know customers buy from people they like and trust. Social media marketing is the way to build relationships.

4) Hear What they Are Saying! People are talking about your brand and your company. Be a part of the conversation. Keep a close eye on the ongoing online conversations about your dealership - blogs, posts, tweets and more. It's important to enter the conversation to listen and participate. You make your customers feel connected to you and your business.

5) Blog Like Crazy! Blog about your new employee. Blog about next month's special. Even blog about the company's history. Lots of business owners think that they cannot blog, but they are wrong. Existing blogger sites - Blogger.com, GoingOn.com or WordPress.com - offer customized templates, to get you started.

6) Make it Easier! Use programs like Tweet Deck to set up Twitter messages in advance, just one time a month. Use PingFM or SocialPoster to distribute a message that you only have to type in once. Use WordPress to create a customized blog with the same design as your website.

7) Let Them See You! Photos, videos and podcasts. They are free to create and upload; they only cost you time. Try BlogTalk Radio to create your own free radio show which can be archived into a podcast. Set yourself apart from the competition by making your pages active and engaging; include MP3s of your top customers talking about their favorite parts of the company.

8) Know When It's Happening! Set a Google Alert for your name or your company. Google will then automatically send you an email every time something gets indexed with your name. It is vital to know what people are saying about you on the web so that you can participate in the conversations.

9) Do It Often! The social profiles that come up highest on the search engines are the ones who are most active. Spend time 3 times a week sending updates, making creative posts and sharing news. Schedule it into your calendar. Jot down ideas throughout the week of various posts that you can make.

10) Know the benefits! Social media is cost-effective marketing! You can use LinkedIn to send the message that you are hiring new employees and use Twitter to send out quick messages about short specials. By staying involved in social, you show your customers that you are transparent, authentic, up-to-date and most of all, you are a real person!