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April 30, 2012

Emphasize The “Social” In Social Media Marketing

Internet marketers, webmasters and business owners have used the popularity and power of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, to expand their brands and advertise directly to their prospective customers. The marketing strategy, known as Social Media Marketing, or SMM, forms a direct line of communication between the business and the consumer, allowing companies to personally shape and control their brand online.

While the potential is there for social media branding, many companies and businesses fall far short of their goals due to poor planning and implementation. They forget about what makes social media so powerful: socializing.

Anyone can set up a social media account and start posting updates, links and pictures. But it takes strategy to make a social media profile work for your business, strategy that many brands miss. Facebook and Twitter are riddled with posts and links that are strictly promotional. They post links to their newest items for sale, special offers and discounts, inspirational quotes from famous people, and links to their latest articles.

While the above posts are an important aspect of social media marketing strategies, they fall short if left unbalanced without the social aspect. Good social media gurus don’t just share their links and promotions with their potential customers, they share conversations and create friendships with their loyal followers.

How to Really Connect With Followers

Effective Social Media Marketers should:

1. Promote products, services, and deals less often and instead share advice, tips, and tools that enrich their followers’ lives, inspiring them to share those same tips with their followers and friends. Thus begins the viral marketing campaign via social media.

2. Never ignore messages, comments, and posts from followers and fans. Social media gurus are responsible for reaching out to followers as friends and equals, emphasizing the “social” in social media.

3. Repost and share helpful information and tips from followers, fans and customers. For example, if a business focuses on the sale of baking products, featuring recipes and photos from fans via social media will excite followers and promote more sharing, growing the brand online.

4. Actively engage in conversations with fans and followers; thank them for sharing the company’s message, products, services, and posts; and form relationships and strategic alliances with customers. Make followers and customers feel important while remembering that they are important to the survival of the business.

5. Reach out to bloggers via social media, offering compensation such as free products and services in exchange for a rave review or hosting a giveaway, which will then be shared via social media. This turns the follower’s audience into the company’s audience for very little investment.

6. Put a face to the social media profile, especially on Twitter. Social media users want to know they are conversing with a person, not an entity. By giving the company an individual’s voice, it enables a true bond to be formed. This could mean having multiple accounts so that the CEO, CMO, and head of customer relations are all involved in SMM efforts.

By employing the ideas above and brainstorming potential strategies unique to a business’s brand, companies can, and often do, execute successful social media campaigns for Internet marketing that go above and beyond their own expectations.

Article by Helen Palmer. For a ton of information, social media marketing tips and expert advice on online marketing for your small business, the author recommends