Three Ways to Harness the Power of Social Media
Seventy percent of American homes are connected to the Internet in 2008, according to eMarketer. But what are they doing? Americans are engaged in four main tasks:
You may notice that your business can fit into all of these categories. But did you know that you have a much better chance of getting in front of your target audience when you use the right tools and techniques? In this article, you will learn how to take advantage of the new communication dynamics to benefit from social networks. We have been networking for over 100,000 years. Now is the time to go one step further and go online to expand your contacts, moth word marketing and your online visibility.
What are social networks and why should you care?
Some benefits you can consider:
- Reach a larger market
- Deepen engagement with your audience
- Quickly achieve expert status
- Expand your network online and get qualified leads
- Get instant feedback
If any of these goals are important to you, read on and you’ll gain new insights. You’ve heard of Facebook with nearly 70 million users worldwide, LinkedIn (the professional networking site with 21 million members and growing), MySpace which has around 117 million unique visitors each month, CraigsList, YouTube, and Wikipideia, right? Just look at some of these numbers. These are some of the largest and fastest growing websites with inherent characteristics: sharing information with like-minded communities in a measurable efficient way. Surprisingly, they are not limited to a young audience either. Remember that sharing information is the second most popular reason people connect. That means they could be sharing your information. Social media is all about “User Generated Content” (UGC), which means that the user is the one who creates and posts the content. It’s a great way to share information, whether it’s through photos, videos, and/or text. You can share profiles, business information, recommendations, opinions, etc. That is essentially the same as word-of-mouth marketing whereby people share and express their opinions, experiences, and recommendations of professionals, products, and practitioners. Given the sheer amount of activity online, doesn’t it stand to reason that you have a greater opportunity to reach a broader and more targeted audience when you use these tools?
I read an article last week in the Wall Street Journal about how a couple was requesting information on all the important details related to their wedding through social media. The bride was asking people to share her suggestions for all the details of that special day; from choosing the type of wedding cake to which song they should dance to first. Surprisingly, the white chocolate cake and the carrot cake were the best choices. What an easy way to eliminate the guesswork and make your life easier. Everyone wants to stay connected and share information online, whether it’s videos, most read articles, or voting for their favorite Dancing with the Stars couple. So how does this translate to opportunity for you? Let’s start with some eye-opening statistics, and then we’ll see how you can get in front of an audience hungry for your services. Remember: if your business benefits from word of mouth, then you can benefit from social media.
New digital marketing tools are available now more than ever, and sometimes it’s hard to understand which ones are best for your business. These are resources like blogs, online PR, Google Ads, email marketing, social media, videos, RSS, and more. How can you incorporate them into your business to attract more customers and elevate your image?
As I blog on “Internet Marketing Trends”, I keep abreast of new technologies to find innovative solutions to use in marketing programs. I admit I avoided social media last year thinking this was really for people under 30. But it was not going away. In fact, it’s getting stronger by the minute. Ironically, a few years ago I jumped on blogging right away and it has been shown to improve website rankings and generate a lot of free publicity. Blogs that are updated help drive targeted traffic to your website. I just couldn’t see the business benefits of social media.
Then I kept hearing about the huge number of baby boomers and seniors joining the social media revolution. I researched and interviewed top experts to get their views on how to use social media for people over 40. Many did not have actual case studies, although they agreed that the field is open to the pioneering and creative thinker. This remains an untapped opportunity and ideal for the professional who wants an edge and is willing to join and participate in these rapidly growing communities.
There are three ways to start:
No. 1: Create a short video online in minutes and get thousands of views. I just bought the best selling “flip” camcorder which is the easiest camcorder you will ever find. No instructions or software needed. Just record your video clip and with its built-in USB port, it connects directly to your computer. You can share your video via email or instantly upload it to YouTube. How would you use this to promote your services? Well, three ways to start:
- Promote your next seminar or webinar
- Interview your customers and share your feedback
- Introduce a new product, tip, or trend to share with PR professionals, trade magazines, and your prospects and prospects. More journalists are scouring the Internet for videos and news ideas. Even Google video search is becoming extremely popular.
Why you should post a video on YouTube
More than 50 percent of internet users watch video online, and video is a great way to improve your email response rates – up to 40 percent according to recent case studies. You can create a 3-4 minute video with some financial tips and spread your message that way. Videos are also a quick way to get others to market to you through their viral effect. Why not post that video on http://www.youtube.com with your keywords so more people can find it? If nothing else, it’s free advertising. To view a video I recently created to promote a seminar, click here
YouTube, the online video-sharing site that was bought by Google for $1.65 billion last year now gets about 100 billion downloads a day up from 3,000 in 2006, just two years ago. This will help you glimpse the explosive growth in information sharing, one of the top four reasons people connect. With an audience of 57 million, it is the seventh most popular online brand in the US according to Nielsen Online as of October 2007.
ProducersWEB.com does a great job of using social media to offer its subscribers many ways to share information with its 200,000+ members. They use articles, forums, and videos, and encourage two-way communication. This is what social media is all about.
It’s easy to start and brand your own channel and establish a vertical niche market. This also helps you get found online faster when someone searches for your keywords or your business name on Google or YouTube. So there are inherent search engine optimization benefits by simply uploading your video and inserting keywords.
No. 2: Create a profile on the fastest growing professional networking site: http://www.linkedin.com. According to its website, LinkedIn is an online network of more than 20 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. It is a free service. I recently heard how a company won a $1 million contract through one of their referrals on their LinkedIn network. This is also a great way to find a new job or change careers, if you know someone in that situation. You can even start or join your own group.
No. 3: Sign up on websites like http://www.loladex.com, Yahoo (list in your local directory), and yelp.com. Loladex is all about word of mouth, and these are the businesses people tend to seek advice for.
I recently met this creative entrepreneur, Edith Young, co-founder of SF Entrepreneur. She can see how her company is using social media to facilitate professional networking through a contest, the equivalent of American Idol for entrepreneurs. Her website is San Francisco’s first social networking community focused on raising awareness of entrepreneurs, their passion and their businesses.
In conclusion, why not spend a few minutes exploring these sites and then spend an hour or less listing your company name and website on these sites or have your teen do it for you? Simply following the three recommended strategies will increase your online exposure and keep you well ahead of the competition. Many financial professionals mistakenly limit their marketing to direct mail or seminars to promote their services, but new digital techniques will get you better results in a cost-effective way. Be willing to experiment a bit and add a few new strategies each quarter.