So what do we mean by social media? As the Internet has evolved increasing numbers of people have taken to sharing ideas, opinions and experiences through a combination of text, blogs, audio, video and message boards etc. More recently RSS and podcasts have also captured the imagination of many in their lust to get their message out to a wide audience. Social media has lead to a revolution in the way many people now interact and learn about world events. The repercussions are that the views of media giants are no longer taken for granted. Now almost anyone can put forward their perspective on any issue they wish. Some organisations have been quick to catch on and realise how their products or services can be promoted by this phenomenon, a kind of social marketing mix unlike anything which as gone before.
One of the simplest ways to begin social media marketing is by creating your own MySpace page. MySpace offers anyone the option to build a free web page where you can share your ideas or express your views in a particular topic. By inviting friends who share similar interests it’s possible to quickly build a cult like community while covertly linking them to your own website.
The social web revolves around sharing opinions…..be they good or bad. With this in mind, websites that are packed full of content can lever recommendations from readers in the form of bookmarking. Bookmarking has become popular with some web users who’ll share their lists with others who have a common interest. Assuming your website has some decent content, bookmarking sites such as Digg, Technorati, Del.icio.us and Reddit provide downloadable code and links etc that’ll soon get you stated. A wise alternative is to link up to AddThis.com, which will then save you alienating those with a bookmarking preference by giving access to numerous bookmarking sites in one go.
A great method of keeping users up to date with your content is to set up a RSS feed. Otherwise known as Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Syndication, RSS provides a notification to users that new content has been added to your site thereby keeping your visitors up to speed with new developments or product launches and so on.
Enabling people to communicate directly through your website is at the core of social media and forums can be a great way of providing just that. The best forums are well managed but not overly censored. Both good and bad comments should be encouraged. While it’s easy to assume that bad comments are best filtered out, leaving them in gives the forum greater credibility. A well managed forum provides an excellent, not to mention free, means of gathering customer feedback and carrying out market research etc. To give a forum momentum you may need to regularly stimulate discussion by starting new topics and by spending some regular time weeding out the spam and nonsense.
Showing your expertise through video is a clever way of grabbing an audience. Sometimes the only real way to demonstrate something is in a visual form. If you are dealing with something computerised it could be worth considering using screen capture software where you can easily take people through a lifelike demo. Video can be downloaded from your own website or posted on sites like YouTube for instance. Its always good to stamp your video with you website address so people know where it originated from. If your video impresses people they may want to seek you out. In much the same way still photographs, graphics and audio can be posted to websites; again not forgetting some kind of link back to your own website.
Lastly but by no means least you can get social media savvy by creating a blog. In essence blogs are little more than short articles often centred on current affairs, similar to writing a column for a newspaper. If you set up a blog it requires regular updating. Much like running a forum people expect blogs to evolve preferably on a daily basis. The biggest no no is to be lame on updates as any audience you’ve gained will soon be lost.
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