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What is Social Media? A Guide to Profiting From Social Networking

SM is an umbrella term that encompasses the technologies and the activities that people use to share experiences, ideas and information with each other. The term is still evolving. The term “SOCIAL MEDIA” most often refers to activities that integrate technology, social (or human) interaction, and the edulize construction of words, pictures, videos and audio – better known as “user generated content” [an example of UGC would be videos on YouTube.]

Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing (crowd outsourcing), and voice over IP, to name a few.

Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Youmeo (social network aggregation), Last.fm (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging) and other microblogs such as Jaiku and Pownce.

— What is Social Media Marketing (SMM)?

SMM is where you use social media networking and user-generated content platforms to promote a product, service or content. SMM typically involves creating and participating in a “conversation” with the target audience, rather than blatantly advertising to them.

SMM can also include creating and promoting viral content that is meant to be shared by users. Many marketers are not comfortable with the lack of control over social media but when approached properly, social networks can be extremely effective channels for building product evangelism, reputation management or corporate branding

— Why is it becoming so popular?

I believe it’s simply because it mirrors our true nature. We are gregarious by nature and for once we are able to use technology easily to reach out and connect in new and exciting ways. It’s still all so new too, there are new frontiers popping up regularly and it’s a bit like the early Internet “gold rush” days during the 90’s

— Is every Social Media site for every entrepreneur?

They might not think so, but it is. You do it naturally every day, SM online is simply the same thing applied technologically.

— How does a business owner determine which site is the best match for them?

Good question. Not all SM Sites are equal. I typically advise people to think “classical marketing” and don’t let the ‘flashing lights’ fool you. Visit the site, pat attention to the conversation. “Lurk” for a while. Ask a question, see what happens. Each environment has its own rules. Blunder in and start shouting and you’ll get flamed. Respect the environments ‘sub culture’ and you’ll do fine. An obvious example of this in action is a site that caters to “gamers” – you instinctively know that if you’re selling insurance you would have a tough time in that environment. Like I said, think like a classical marketer.

— Are there some “best practices” steps to starting and maintaining your SMM sites? And how do I make social networking work for me?

– Social Media Marketing

Many a company has forgotten the old maxim, “Act in haste, repent at your leisure…” The same warning should be applied to companies rushing to get in on the social media marketing wave.

If you hear things at work like “We should have a blog,” or “Let’s join Facebook,” I suggest [respectfully] that maybe you are about to make a whopper of a mistake.

Here’s why…

– Backwards is bad

You are starting your social media strategy design backwards – and this will lead to trouble.

In any other business endeavor we start by figuring out what we want to accomplish. Social media technologies are not magical. They’re just tools too. It’s time to stop doing social media marketing because it’s trendy and instead do it because it works!

– 4 Things to Remember

(1) The web is about people. You need to know your audience. Understand their capabilities, their hangouts online, their language and behaviors. If you’re targeting business travelers then consider rating and review sites for example. Just don’t guess…

(2) Figure out what will be different when you are done. This is the “why” behind your plans. Do you want to create a close knit community or a product testing ground. Understand the motive’s behind your actions.

(3) What outcomes and objectives are you seeking to achieve. Consider the end result and how you will measure it. A fuzzy or fluffy end result is almost as bad as not specifying one at all. How will you measure success?

(4) What technology to choose. Only answer this question when you’ve completed the others because then you’ll know with clarity and confidence.

In conclusion, if you recognize classic business planning and management principles amongst these notes you’d be correct. The game may have changed, but the rules are still the same. Plan first, then act with confidence.

— How long is this new type of marketing going to take to master?

The actual skills are quite simple – you likely already have them mastered. What you need to learn is the PROCESS. That takes a little time, but frankly not that much.

— What if I don’t know many people to invite to my network?

No problem. Answer this question “If you are the ANSWER, what was the QUESTION?” Armed with that answer you can locate groups of people who would need what you offer. You can then invite them to participate and you can SHARE your knowledge and expertise to PROVE you are the answer to their problem. Use your favourite search engine to locate these people – simply type in the QUESTION or problem. Remember, if people knew the answer they wouldn’t be looking 🙂

— How can I get business through SMM?

It’s a funny thing when I’m asked this. We do it daily, so I marvel at the fact people think it’s different online. Sure there’s a layer of technology in the mix, but it’s still about people getting to know people. Remember the old maxim, people buy from people they like and trust.

SMM simply enables (or should I say empowers) you to do this more effectively.

 

 

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