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June 4, 2008

Traffic for beginners: Social Networking

Let’s face it: it’s a big Internet out there, with millions and millions of websites. How are you going to get people to come to yours?

Social Networking

Social Networking websites are basically community websites. These are communities, on the internet, that you join and then search for people within the community with similar interests as you.

Some Social Networking websites are very small and focused, so by definition the people who join such websites are already members of a tightly focused interest group.

Such a group might be brought together by their political or religious beliefs. Or it could be something such as their hobbies, like… they love Ford Mustangs! Or making cheesecake! Sports or basically anything else that mankind has found it possible to be interested in!

So, in such a tightly focused group, almost all members without exception will be interested in the one common thing.

However, there are many other community websites where the only real common interest that most of the members could possibly ever have with one another is that they are all, members of the same site!

This is simply a function of the size and therefore the diversity of the websites in question, with websites like MySpace and FaceBook having literally millions of members all over the globe. (107 and 73 million members respectively).

Such websites generally have a membership that is wide open. Meaning that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are.

Thus, there is no general community wide commonality of beliefs or interests either.

It is therefore only natural that once you are a member, inside this online community, you can begin to create your own network of friends. Those people that have similar interest and/or beliefs to you and the products you are promoting.

This is where it gets interesting for you as an Internet Marketer!

Whatever your interests, given so many millions of members, then there inevitably will be others that have similar interests, people that you could potentially ‘bond’ with immediately. People who become prospects due to the commonality in interests.

For example, a MySpace search using the phrase ‘Crocheting’ returns plenty of results. All of them are people who might be interested in your website from a direct ‘match’ of my search term to the specific subject topic of my website.

However, run a search for a more generic (and broader) term like Internet Marketing, and you get 45,400 results. I know what your thiking… OMG how overwhelming! Take a deep breath and continue listening!

Now, it is a very reasonable assumption that anyone who is interested in Internet Marketing is trying to sell something on the web, and that they therefore need traffic to their website.

So, of course, these people would be legitimate ‘target prospects’ for what I am trying to promote.

Take it one stage further and use single word search ‘marketing’ and it returns 549,000 results.

Again, it is reasonable to assume that all of these people are at least interested in bringing their products or services to the marketplace, so, once again, traffic generation could be of immense interest to them.

So, all I need to do is to tell them about the great resource that I have available, and the deal is done… right?

Err… no! Not really… Unless the “deal” that you are talking about is having your MySpace account closed down immediately!

The thing is that the folks who run MySpace really do not want their ‘community site’ turning into a commercial free-for-all. A sort of online bazaar, and they will go to any lengths to protect their site.

So, you cannot just open your account one day and start bombarding people with your commercial messages the next.

It’s the same with any quality forum site. You have to establish yourself as a valid contributing member before you can start promoting your products. Once you have yourself established, then you can add a signature file with a redirect to a sales site, you must establish yourself on community websites too.

So, the first thing that you must do is to take some time and make an effort to create a proper profile, something that shows that there is a real person behind the newly opened account.

Then, you must start looking for ‘friends’ in the MySpace community, but you must do so gradually, as you are limited to so many friend invitations a day. Even if you weren’t inviting a thousand new friends a day… It hardly looks natural or normal. Does it?

Put it this way – if you saw that someone was inviting 1000 new friends a day, would you perhaps thinks that there was something a little bit strange or artificial about this person?

Yes – of course you would.

So, start out by becoming a real member of the community before you start promoting products. That is the bottom line.

Sure… By all means begin to invite people to be your friends, but do spend a little time getting to know them and building up a relationship before trying to get them interested or sell them in your business.

Now, the great thing about a blog site is that it is pretty natural that, after you have been someone’s ‘friend’ for a while, that you might invite them to take a look at your blog.

That is far less threatening and direct than asking them to look at a ‘full-on’ sales page, for example.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter what community site you are a member of, the secret is go gently and slowly, build relationships and try to nurture something at least vaguely like a ‘real’ friendship before trying to get people to visit your business themed blog site.

Use your common sense and the skills listed here and you should have success in making friends and prospects on social networking sites.

Erik Stafford is the creator of The Faster Webmaster, which shows beginners the fast, easy, affordable way to build their own website. You can visit Erik online at http://www.thefasterwebmaster.com

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