Join the Conversation

If you’re looking for social marketing strategies, you probably already understand some advantages of social networking. Ask social marketing experts where to start, and you’ll get dozens of answers. Most of those answers are probably good ones, but don’t take any of them lightly.

While it’s a huge business blunder not to incorporate social media in your marketing plan, it’s an even bigger blunder to do social marketing badly… and there are plenty of bad ways to do social marketing. Even if your budget allows for only the tiniest initiative, you can find effective social marketing strategies.

The Fundamental Strategy

Whatever anyone tells you about social marketing, the single most important strategy to employ is this: Join the conversation. What conversation? It’s almost certain that somewhere on the Internet, people are talking about what you sell. They may not know they’re talking about it, but they are… and your business will benefit when you find those people and join their conversation.

If you can’t find a conversation in progress, you can start one yourself and, if you make the conversation interesting enough, people will join in.

Three ways to join a Conversation

Some places to start

Forums: Forums abound on the Internet. Some companies manage forums having very involved memberships. Check out Microsoft’s technical forums for a decent example of a well-managed corporate presence; if your business involves managing Microsoft products for others, you can get valuable exposure by visiting these forums and answering questions posted by other visitors. Check out Yahoo Groups for conversations about just about any topic.

Blogs: This is self-serving, but please visit my blog Your Small Kitchen Garden. It’s just a year old, but it gets a lot of traffic. Visitors are participating more and more by leaving comments and finding me on Twitter. It’s a reasonable example of a blog that encourages conversation while providing useful information for its participants.

Social Networking: If you’re not yet on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter, tread lightly. Go ahead and sign up, but spend some time lurking before you jump into the conversation. I’m very active on Twitter as @cityslipper, and I invite you to follow me. Understand that my use of twitter is one of my social marketing strategies to become established as a garden writer and foodie… most of my conversations on Twitter have to do with gardening.

Forums – Before there was Web 2.0 there were on-line forums. Once you join a forum, you converse by answering questions of other participants and by asking questions to which you don’t know the answers. By answering questions accurately and politely, you establish yourself as an expert, and participants may ask you for more information—or even for specific attention to their problems. To help people connect with you, most forums let you publish a link to your own web site, or at least include contact information in the messages you post.

Blogs – Precursors to Web 2.0, blogs are directed conversations: the blog owner sets the topic, and followers chime in with comments. Very animated exchanges can ensue in which the blogger responds to reader comments, readers respond to the blogger’s comments, and readers respond to each others’ comments. Of course, a blog’s owner typically becomes established as an expert on the blog’s topic… which suggests one great reason for a company to sponsor its own blog, but we’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts. For this discussion, the simplest social marketing strategy related to blogs is to read blogs that talk about the types of products or services you sell, and participate by leaving constructive comments.

Social Networking Sites – Look especially at Facebook and Twitter. Twitter provided a simple interface that lets people converse smoothly with selected friends and with the general population of Twitter users. Facebook has features that also make conversation easy, but it’s a bit more daunting to get started and use effectively. Twitter has a search feature that lets you find everything anyone tweets using specific words or phrases. Facebook isn’t so smooth, but it lets people organize into groups or create pages dedicated to specific topics.

Yes, there are other ways to join conversations on social networks. Learn a few and represent your company through social media. Upcoming posts will explore these and other social marketing strategies in greater depth. Please join this conversation: Leave a comment to tell me whether you found this post useful or to suggest specific topics you’d like me to address in upcoming blog posts.

I hope to hear from you.



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