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    0 Replies Latest reply on Jul 21, 2009 11:05 AM by ChrisKinetic

    Use of Social Media for Business

    ChrisKinetic Newbie

      Worried About Available Time Versus A Changing Landscape for Advertising?


      Are you worried about the effort involved in blogging, search optimization and now participation in so many important social networks? If so, you're not unlike most small to medium sized business owners who, frankly, are already busy. And, without getting ahead of ourselves, we shouldn't confuse search or even web optimization with actual conversion either; however, one does support the other... so first things first.


      Just the other day I was sitting in a business association meeting where we're endorsed and, amongst attendees, concern for social networking was a common theme. To a degree, folks are resisting change and a new landscape for advertising. Did you know your blog can easily be the center of your social media presence online, pushing content out to the search engines and simultaneously into various social media environments? In fact most social networks accept automated blog feeds into your http://Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. account, virtually eliminating any duplication of effort. Not to suggest you shouldn't participate. You should! At least some and we'll talk a little about it below, but good business blog sites are powerful search & social network advertising tools! If the content is useful, good blog posts distinguish your brand everywhere they go!


      What Exactly is Social Networking For Business Purposes Sake?


      Don't make social media any more complicated than it truly is. Social media could be defined as the interaction with your content in any way that establishes your presence online. It's really just business folks publishing useful content to various network or blog sites for others to consume. It's people communicating with each other, virtually. While blogs can establish depth and a unique brand for your presence online, social networks are more a realtime form of coverage. They're both tools you can use to develop trust with empowered people, who have an ability nowadays to gather information at will. And here's the value proposition: people aren't just looking for what you offer every day, they may appreciate a more human or differentiated message. Maybe they'll subscribe directly? Maybe they will forward to someone else or, better yet, expose you to an entire audience via link? Maybe they'll buy something?


      Let's explore a social network example. While we work with all types of small to medium sized business, a lions' share are in the real estate industry. I try to follow their social networks, like Active Rain, via feeds I subscribe too. My participation, admittedly, has been less blogging and more commenting lately. It's the case mostly because, unlike those networks mentioned above, AR hasn't allowed an incoming blog feed unless it's coming via their own product. So, to copy, paste and then format is time... and I'm trying to manage mine. I do it some, for instance here but the value of our times must be weighed in. Anyway, I comment where I hope I can add value. The other day a person blogged in AR on being relevant online. I commented, linking back to a piece I had written called ‘Confused By Search Engine Optimization? Try This ‘Laypersons Guide To Understanding SEO' No sooner had I, traffic poured in to the post and we benefited from several new lead conversions.


      Here's a second example based on blogs & RSS. Amongst others, I subscribe to Matt Furey's Super Human Success Blog, which is ‘power of positive thinking' brilliance. SHSB, by the way, was pointed out to me by a gentleman who found us searching. Ever since then, I've subscribed to Furey's RSS feed. Now I'm linking see back links below to him so that you to can enjoy his work and I've even read enough to buy one of his books.


      Are you beginning to get this?


      We speak with folks every day about Social Networking. They want to jump into social networks & blogs, mostly because of the pressure they feel from business media coverage and all the gurus out there. Ultimately, the successful networker will share the kind of coverage that distinguishes and that future clients appreciate By the way, be careful when taking what is subjective social network advice from anyone giving it. There are so many variables out of your control, so there's not necessarily any exact formula. There is a leap of faith involved! A good rule might be to ask yourself, "Because there are so many variables, has this person's income ever been tied to actual participation in social media?"


      So, while it all sounds possible and it's certainly the most cost effective advertising, nothing worth doing is ever easy. There's competition! It's important to get a strategy... or risk wasting valuable time and effort!


      Can Blogs Feed Social Media & search, Search Feed Social Media and Social Media Feed Search?


      Sure! They can all support each other for you and, to a degree, they can do it simultaneously! Says Fastcompany, "Search engine optimization and social media are both powerful marketing tools for small businesses, but when you combine them they become even better: they're the peanut butter & jelly of Web marketing."


      Search optimization is really based upon key phrases, relevance and authority. It stems from your content. Maybe you're being discovered in the search engines via your blog or maybe for your social network presence. We've certainly written about how business blogs' are the means to generate broad & competitive organic search indexing. Social media is also a way to generate more presence with large audiences, but it's also a way to generate back links. Sites with incoming links are often perceived by search engines to be more relevant. Back links are a signal that can move your key phrases upward in the rankings. And people certainly search!


      Advice: don't get carried away with building back links. The search engines understand the manipulation of back links, so they've built algorithmic filters to grade and to weed out poor or excessive back linking. They've also moved a lot of algorithmic emphasis to how your content is reacted too, lessening some of the weight for links. To add some more caution, some social networks are nofollow http://i.e. prevent search spidering meaning you should be there for the audience AND NOT the search indexing. Why do they nofollow? Well, they want to remain relevant as a network and the nofollow policy cuts down on the incentive to spam the network with bad links. Obviously, no one considers spam a value so spammy networks get less and less traffic. Other social sites, like twitter, are search indexing friendly http://...for the time being. Twitter is a great example of a social network that a number of business people use to be Twitter audience visible; to be findable in the search indexes and also to drive links back to their primary brand.


      And the end of the day, add value... or don't expect much to happen. Your time is valuable and the goal is new business, so go into this with a sincere long term view!


      Your Blog Is Your Brand


      Again, the purpose here is to bring some logic to what amounts to a changing landscape for small to medium sized business advertising. Part of the message above is beware of the hype or a short term fix. Focus on building trustworthy & sustainable brand! And the other part is that it doesn't have to be the ‘time suck' many perceive it to be.


      It's time consuming to write in so many different places all of the time. Just copying and pasting, then reformatting requires it; however, pushing branded content out to the search engines, as well as into the various social media environments simultaneously, broadens your presence without eating up your time. Blogging, strategic participation in different networks, keeping an eye on important feeds and commenting where you can add value for a target market is a very general, but manageable, approach. Just diving into a social environment isn't necessarily strategic, but ‘taking a leap of faith' and focusing on adding value for new business in return is a healthy trustworthy approach. Better yet, it's proven!


      We're bias yes, but we feel your advertorial business blog should be the center of your overall social media presence. We feel it's the single best place to establish depth for your business brand! Your time is valuable and the goal is new business. If you're concerned, let us know. We'd love to discuss simple, sustainable, cost effective strategies.