Social Media: Marketing Yourself to the Masses

Social media networking sites have become HUGE over the last decade. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google + have gained MILLIONS of users and followers. Virtually everyone over the age of 16 is connected to the world through at least one network or another. As such, social media networking sites have become ESSENTIAL when it comes to marketing a business.      

What is so unique about social networking sites?

Social media has revolutionized the process of marketing your business. The main thing that makes social networking sites stand apart from other internet sites is the clear advantage in numbers. Facebook alone has hundreds of millions of members. These networking sites allow business owners to reach far more people than they could before, and through just ONE site.

Another huge advantage that social media has over other websites and web marketing strategies is that it really allows you to showcase your personality and focus on how you differ from the masses. In a human centric society like ours today, clients want to work with someone that they trust and someone that they feel can understand and relate to them. Social media sites are much more personal and often much less formal than specific business sites. Although both are essential to the success of your business, your social networking profiles should focus more on who you are and what you stand for and your business site should focus more on your services and your business. It is all about creating deeper connections and more credibility.

Social networking sites have many other advantages, including the facts that they are extremely simple to set up, very fast and easy to manage, require only very basic computer knowledge, hold a ton of information and are almost all 100% FREE. There is no other marketing strategy that can boast all of the same benefits. That being said, it is important to realize that social media networking is not the only means that you need to implement in order to create a successful business.

It is just ONE of the MANY important steps in marketing yourself and business.          

Top Four Sites you MUST Join:

Of course I’m never going to tell you that you’re absolutely required to do anything, because it’s your life, your business, your choice…but let’s call it a strong recommendation…

1.  Facebook Facebook is the top social media networking site in the whole World Wide Web at the moment. It has more followers and is visited more often than any other site.

It is unique in that it supports a number of pages and features that other sites don’t. There is an info page that allows you to write a little bit about yourself and introduce your business and vision behind that business. On your main page you can write and post different statuses and post links to pictures or articles that you like. You can add a profile picture and create separate picture albums that best represent you and your business. You can add an unlimited number of friends, and can gain an unlimited number of followers.

Now, you can subscribe to different RSS feeds and follow them through your Facebook page. There is a notes page where you can create posts that pertain to what you are about. Your homepage is complete with a news feed that allows you to view the most recent and most pertinent posts that your friends have made. There are thousands of apps that you can add to your profile. If you do not want to maintain a separate profile for your business, you have the options of creating a group or business page as well.

The options almost seem limitless, and are growing every day. If you are only going to join one social networking site, it should be this one.       

2.  Twitter:Twitter also allows you to create a personal profile complete with a section that introduces you and your life. Rather than collecting friends, your aim is to gain “followers.” These are people who have subscribed to your feed and who have found what you have to say interesting and engaging enough to want to come back on a regular basis.

Twitter is essentially a microblogging service that allows you to make short and frequent posts about whatever you would like in 140 character bursts. It is also extremely popular, and a great way to distribute your thoughts and ideas to the masses. It is less diverse than Facebook, but serves its own purpose very well.

3.  LinkedIn: LinkedIn is unique in that it is a social networking site that focuses specifically on business. Rather than using it for social networking in general, people us it mainly for professional networking.

It is used worldwide and has millions of subscribers. Rather than friends or followers, you maintain contact through “connections.” These are people that you know, invite, or that add you that have interest in your page. It also allows you to create or join interest groups.

You can use it to post or find jobs, people and business opportunities through mutual contacts and recommendations. You can add pictures and view others’ photos. Unlike the above sites, this one focuses less on personal information and should be used to really promote your business and set you apart by highlighting your differences, strengths and specialties. It is another important resource for marketing your business and getting your name out there.

4.  Google Profiles:Google profiles is an important part of Google + and extremely new in the social media network (it was launched in June of 2011). However, it is quickly gaining more and more popularity and members.

One thing unique to Google Profiles is that you can create your own profile, and in doing so you insure that your profile is displayed on the FIRST page of Google search results when someone searches you by first and last name. That in itself is a very strong incentive to become a member.

There are sections specifically designated to introducing yourself, listing your occupation and introducing your business, adding pictures, gaining friends and joining circles, and displaying links to sites that you support or like. You can attach a blog to your page, and/or post articles that you have written. And lastly, you can connect your profile page to other Google offshoots that you use; such as Google Buzz, Google Mail and Google Blogger.

By creating a Google + account, you can join and partake in hangouts (group video chats), use the messenger function that allows you to chat with other members of your circles via SMS like messages, create sparks which allows users identify topics that they are interested in sharing with others, and recommend specific site by clicking on the “+1” button. It is becoming an increasingly important resource for business marketing and is continuously being added to and improved.

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Marketing:

DO create a profile for at least all five of the most popular social media networking sites. In order to reach the most people possible, it is important to join multiple networking sites. Just joining one will not be nearly as beneficial.

DO update them regularly. If you put the time and effort into creating a profile, and then do not maintain it, you will come off as lazy and as if you do not really care. You need to update each of your profiles on a regular basis. I’d recommend starting off with 30 to 60 minutes a week engaging with people on your social media profiles. If you have more time than that, great. But don’t feel like you have to put priority tasks on the back burner for multiple hours every week just to get your social on. J

DO encourage suggestions and conversation from your followers. By getting to know potential clients and how they think, you will better be able to relate to them and their needs and to use that information to better serve them. Along with that, DO be open to suggestions. Sometimes one of your followers will come up with a brilliant insight. None of us know everything, and getting an outside view or opinion could very well help you improve, especially since it’s easy to get myopic and stuck inside of our own frame.  

DO act professionally and DON’T write about inappropriate things or subjects that do not pertain at all to your business life. Your Facebook statuses should not focus on what you ate for dinner, but should announce business achievements or revelations.   

DO present your readers/followers with your passions and the vision behind what you do.

DON’T discuss controversial topics on your profile. Although it may help some people to relate to you, it will also cause many to discount what you have to say and to never look back

DON’T mix your personal life in with your business life. If you have a personal profile within a social networking site, make sure that it is both separate from your business profile and that your personal profile is private. As much credibility as you can create through a business profile, you can destroy it just as easily if negative elements of your personal life become public. Nobody wants to see pictures of the person that they have entrusted their money and life to drinking or making a fool of themselves. They also do not want to get pulled into personal drama or situations. 

In conclusion, I recommend that you join social networking sites to help improve your visibility and credibility. Just remember why you’re doing it. I promise you won’t regret it. Social Media is such an important and powerful tool to reach huge numbers of people and to gain substantially more clients. 

Tell us about the benefits you’ve seen from using social media. We’d love to get your perspective, and you can leave your comment by clicking the bubble icon on the top right hand side of this post.

Thanks, and make it a great week!