Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learning to Use Social Networking Sites for Business

Social networking sites where originally intended to be merely online communities where people can gather and share interests and opinions. Due to the growing popularity of many social networks they soon caught the eye of the internet marketing community. A social platform with a large membership base represented fertile grounds for marketing goods and services.

Now many entrepreneurs have flooded these social sites for the purpose of marketing online. The splash they have made however has often times been awkward and unwelcome by many site members. The need to keep in mind that these online communities are really intended for socializing is crucial. There is a way to effectively conduct your business in a way that is less awkward for you and more welcomed by site members.

Here are 3 points you'll need to keep in mind when approaching any social platform for the purpose of marketing online:

You Can't Please Everybody

If you're use to hiding behind copywriting then the interacting can be a bit of a shock. Guess what, that is why they call it 'social' marketing. Remember this is how you interrelate with people offline … has it been that long?

Expect a healthy amount of 'give and take' in and amongst site members. This interaction should also include you and don't expect that everybody will agree with your views or opinions. What makes social marketing so effective is the immediate feedback you can expect and this likely will be directed right at you. Take nothing personal and learn to benefit from any criticism you may receive.

Engage in Discussions

When I mention engaging in conversations I don't mean listening in on them. Make yourself known and offer input where you feel you can contribute in a positive manner. If the subject is popular yet you're not that familiar with it then listen up and learn.

Don't be afraid to ask a question being this is a great way to meet and bond with others. The person you ask questions of today may be your customer or even mentor tomorrow!

Don't Overextend Yourself

As you become more comfortable interacting on various social networks you may be tempted to join some others and you should. However do keep in mind that to get the most out of any one site will take some time and effort on your part since you need to be building relationships with the other members. Be reasonable with the number of sites you choose to become active at so that you don't overextend yourself thereby diminishing your own efforts.

To conduct business on any of the social networking sites you first need to gain the acceptance of other members. Participating in discussions and making positive contributions with your comments or opinions is a key first step. Social sites are based upon the members building relationships. If your initial focus is business any future marketing efforts likely will be ineffective. So make yourself comfortable, make some friends, and then use this base to grow your business into the future.

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