Social media is emerging as an essential component of the online business funnel for the purpose of growing your network and building quality back links to your blogs and web pages. There are many who are just starting to become familiar with social media and this post will serve as a fast start guide to help get you started and for seasoned participant online I will share a few best practices that I feel are critical for success.
There are thousands of social media websites online that generally fall into two basic categories; it is important that you understand each one and how to utilize them to build your business. I will define what these are with a few examples of each type and share a few tactics to enable you to make the most of your time investment in social media.
I. Two Primary Categories of Social Media Sites
1. Networking Sites: Networking Sites are designed to build networks of individuals “friends” and to connect with large groups of people with common interest. This catagory include Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. The characteristics of these sites provide you with the ability to create a rich highly personal profile, to search for and add associates or friends to your profile, allows you to search for and join groups and encourages interaction through direct messages and comments on the profiles of your friends.
2. Link Building Sites: Link Building Sites are designed to build links back to your websites and blogs allowing you to create single page mini-sites on a specific topic. The entries are informational or editorial in nature as opposed to promotional; the opportunity is to demonstrate your authority or share your experiences on a topic and provide one or two links back to your site for reference. Sites like Squidoo and HUB Pages are among the most popular link building sites and are my favorite among link building sites available free to join on the Internet
It is essential to develop a social media strategy a “game plan” to ensure that your investment of time in social media is effective and allows you to efficiently attract a network, build your back-links and grow your business.
Here are the steps I recommend to successfully create your game plan:
1. Decide if you are going to work with Networking Sites, Link Building Sites, or both
2. Brand yourself FIRST, not your company
3. Find your voice
4. Be Consistent
5. Be honest acting with integrity
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps to create a sound foundation to build your social media program.
1. Networking, Link Building or Both: I personally do both because this is where the leverage exist and every action you take can create multiple outcomes for your business. If you decide to build both, you will need to select three to five sites of both types meaning you will be managing six to ten sites per day which can be done with an hour of focused time by utilizing tools that I will share with you in a future post.
Once you have selected the sites that you are going to build you will need to create complete and consistent profiles for each site, search for groups and connect to friends on your networking sites. For link building sites you will need to create your profile and begin to add content be creating your mini-sites being careful to weave your links in with relevant content.
2. Brand Yourself First: One of the biggest mistakes I see network marketers, affiliate marketers, and direct sales professionals make is enthusiastically branding their company instead of themselves thereby giving control of their most valuable business asset to a third party whom they cannot control. If you are known in the marketplace as the “juice guy,” or the “travel lady,” or the “vitamin guy” instead of the “home-based business professional,” you are putting your business at risk.
How often do you read about a company falling under negative media scrutiny, suddenly closing it’s doors, or making operational changes causing a distributor or reseller to leave and begin with a new company. The problem is that a large part of their brand is no longer relevant so they need to reeducate their marketplace and in many cases contradict prior statements about their former company and their undying loyalty to that company. I could go on and on concerning this point because it is critical to get this right and avoid damaging your brand.
3. Find Your Voice: Carefully determine which parts of your personalty you are going to bring to your brand to make yourself standout from the online crowd. There is a great marketer named Perry Belcher who has a very strong image as a “really great dude!” He wears crazy shirts, talks in a down-home no non-sense fashion and people easy relate to his rebel style – this is his brand. On the other extreme is Eben Pagan, a brilliant marketer who presents a very businesslike clean cut suit and tie image; Eben speaks like a Harvard MBA and relates very well with like minded people who value what he represents. There is no right or wrong; when Perry wears a shirt covered in flames, I am sure he loves his shirt, when Eben slips into an Armani suit, I am sure he loves his suit. We all have diverse personalities, just decide what aspect of your personality you want to amplify.
4. Be consistent: Remember that every picture you post and word you write leaves a footprint on the internet. Mistakenly many people believe if they delete something online that it is gone for ever, this is not the case at all. For this reason make sure that you have consistency and continuity in the all of your postings, comments, recommendations, photographs and videos placed online as you build your brand. Make it your practice to ask the questions “how does this reflect on my brand” before adding content to the internet.
5. Be Honest and Act with Integrity: From time to time a few marketers in social media communities tend to exaggerate their track record or results for fear of not attracting prospects. If you are new or do not have results simply leverage the story and results of your up line and mentors. People will respect your honesty and will likely relate to you more than if they believe you make a million dollars a year. Remember this simple concept there are two simple statements that you can make with integrity; 1. This is what I have done, do this and 2. This is what I am doing, do this. Anything else is outside of your integrity including NOT sharing what is working with your team members.
In closing, I want to give you a few pointers to help you grow your social media following and to keep you from becoming a social media outcast on networking sites.
1. Start adding people you know as friends in your network; relatives, co-workers, friends and family.
2. Utilize the search function within each community to locate people you know,people in your profession, people who share common interest. Send them a friendship connection request and whatever you do, don’t solicit them until you have built rapport.
3. Utilize the search “Groups” function within each community to locate large groups of people who share a common interest and join them.
4. Be active and conversational in each community. Freely share ideas, complement others and engage in conversations using the message and chat features.
5. Be interested and others will find you interesting.
By implementing these practices you will build a large vibrant social identity and a community that grows organically. When the time is right you will know how best to approach individuals who are qualified to view your opportunity. You might also be surprised by how many ask you to show them what you do.
(c) Copyright 2008 James A. Holmes. All Rights Reserved.
James Holmes, Global Team Builder, Coach and Trainer, combining online and offline strategies to help you grow your business. To request a free 30 minute consultation contact James by phone at 303-523-9503 or email at james@AskJamesHolmes.com
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