By now I’m sure everyone has heard that social media and online communities can be profitable for companies to pursue as part of an online marketing strategy. Many understand the value, but often don’t think they have time to incorporate this into their schedules. The whole idea of social media is to be social, to communicate with others, and to expand your online network. So yes, engagement is everything. Unless you take just a few minutes each day or each week to participate, you won’t be able to maximize the benefits that can result. Lately as I have talked with clients about social media channels, I often hear that they just don’t have the time. Today, I wanted to take a few moments to suggest some simple ways to partake in social media.
1) Blogging — Write a new post on your blog. We recommend that this should be done at least once per week. Blogs are great from a search engine optimization perspective as they add fresh content to the site that the spiders will recognize, but they also enable you to engage in a dialogue with potential customers. If you don’t allow for comments on your blog, this fresh content is still great to have and is another way to work a few of your important keywords into the content. You could also comment on other blogs within your industry. If it’s appropriate, reference your site, which will result in an inbound link and additional visitors. This allows you to get your name out there and provide information to educate others about you or your company.
2) Connect — If you’re already a member of a social media site, as most of us are, take a few minutes each week to update your profile. Do your Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn profiles contain the most up to date information about you? Set a goal to make a connection with someone new each week; even if it is just one or two more people. The more connections you have through these channels, the better. This networking and reaching out to others is just another way to build relationships with others in your industry. You never know who you might meet.
3) Write Reviews — We are all customers in some way, shape or form, and I am sure we can all agree that reviews have an impact on our consumer behavior. For example, if you’re looking for a hotel and in doing so, come across a bad review on a particular hotel; are you likely to stay there? What about a restaurant, a specific product or service? The point is that reviews can definitely have an impact on your business. I would suggest that you frequently look for reviews about your company, product, or service. This can be a great way to understand what people are saying about you. Also, do the same for others. If you have a good experience, write a review. Google Maps, Yelp, and CitySearch are a few great places to start.
4) Share — There are many sites such as Flickr and Picasa that are great for photo sharing. By uploading photos, you can interact with hundreds, even thousands of people who are interested in similar topics. This is great place to join groups and comment on others’ photos. Again, this circles back to joining and making connections within these online communities. Although Flickr has “nofollow” tags to picture captions and comments, participating in this community and others that are similar, can still be beneficial from a search engine optimization perspective. There are areas such as personal or group profiles and discussion boards that do not contain these “nofollow” tags, and including links back to your site here will enable you to benefit from the link juice. Take a few minutes and browse through these photo sharing sites. You’ll see that there are groups for almost anyone and there’s sure to be a place that’s a good fit for you as well.
Social media marketing can be very effective, but engagement is the most important component. You’re not going to be an expert in all of the social media channels overnight, and no one expects you to be, but the only way to gain a better understanding about how to best benefit from these channels is to get involved. If you’re not familiar with a certain social media channel that you think may be applicable to your industry, see what it’s all about. Yes, it may take some time out of your day, but who knows, it could lead you to a new friend or even new customer.