Marketing with Social Media 101

Alright, you’ve heard your business or organization should have a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, right? Whether you’ve barely heard it or already started, here’s a quick primer on what, why, and how.

To start, here’s some important background information, starting with why you should care about social media.

Why

Because that’s where your audience is. And they’re out there spreading the word to each other about everything — faster, wider, and easier than phone or email.

If you don’t believe your customers are there, check out this free and reliable Social Technology Profile Tool to see who is doing what with social media.

Another reason to try social media marketing is because there’s a number of things you can do with a little time and no cash. No wonder it’s so popular!

And if nothing else, you’ll gain some high-powered links to your website, which could help your search engine rankings.

So What Is Social Media?

Social media refers to people using technology to interact and post their own content — including text, videos, photos, and audio. Forms of social media include:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts and videocasts
  • Online forums or bulletin boards
  • Instant messaging
  • Wikis (e.g., Wikipedia)
  • Social networking (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Social bookmarking (e.g., StumbleUpon, Delicious)
  • Audio and video sharing (e.g., YouTube)
  • Virtual worlds and much more

You might already have social media aspects to your website, such as a method for site visitors to post comments (as available below), or you might use other websites or applications to connect with your target audience.

Here are 3 major social networking applications that you should definitely know about. They all offer a way for you to get involved that is easy, effective, and free.

  1. Twitter is ideal for learning and for marketing if used correctly and consistently. Think of it as a giant public chat room or bulletin board that you can access anytime. (more on Twitter)
  2. Facebook is the largest social networking site. It offers easy free tools for businesses/organizations/causes to get listed on this phenomenally popular website. Facebook has active members of all ages including grandmothers.
  3. LinkedIn is a professional networking website for posting individual and organizational profiles. Posting a profile and making a little effort can draw new referrals and new contacts.

I use all three regularly and am glad I do.

How

How to make social media work for you is where it gets a little tricky. Some uses of social media tools can backfire, or simply be a waste of time, so don’t jump in without educating yourself on do’s and don’ts.

One of the ways I help my clients is to help them choose where to focus and then customize efforts in order to get the best results.

For starters, check out how some businesses have been using social media with good success:
Presenting: 10 of the Smartest Big Brands in Social Media (Mashable)

Another way to learn is to lurk a little. You can follow me on Twitter or follow me on Facebook where I post my mini-discoveries and suggestions.

See related posts below for additional help.

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