Monday, 1 October 2007

Understanding social media & social network marketing optimisation

It is important to think beyond Google, Yahoo, MSN (main road) as traffic drivers to your site (via search engine marketing) and to consider the potential of the social side streets (new neighbourhoods).

Hitwise (June 07) state:

“Social networking has firmly established itself as one of the most popular online activities, with the top 20 social networks accounting for 4% of UK Internet visit, up 79% year on year”.

This growth has increased the amount of traffic that they distribute to commercial websites as Social networks are not just about finding friends, they are also about sharing interesting content. Businesses can take advantage of the networks by listening to what their target market is saying and engaging them with relevant content.

Social marketing is about making your data/messages available to potential site visitors no matter where they are on the web (ie:YouTube, Directories, Flickr, Image search). It allows for the design of more targeted messages to groups found in online communities.

For further information on implementing social media into your marketing strategy read on:

Social Marketing Optimisation

The main goal in social marketing optimisation should be, to deliver the right message to the right people and for those then to pass the message onto others. That is known as viral. An additional benefit of Social Marketing Optimisation is increased presence in the search result pages & increased traffic into your website. Two tactics for optimising social media are listed below;

*Create Compelling copy that people want to pass on.
*Optimise on Text, Images and Videos by tagging and indexing them properly.

Words of advice for people new to social media

Before you can determine social media goals it is important for you to:

*Go online without an agenda and listen to conversions – especially those around your brand.

*Participate in conversations

*Comment in blogs

*Set up own blog, group, community based on popular themes or possibly missing themes.

*Start to use social media sites that will be useful for you: such as Digg or Del.icio.us, Stumble upon.

*Consider how social networks can be matched to your target audience ie: for SEO audience Sphinn better than Digg.

*Consider how much time you can invest to communicate to your target audience.

*Don’t jump straight in and promote your company in the networks, this is bad practice, it is important to pay attention to the ongoing conversions, spend time their, build up your authority to ‘related or unrelated to your brand’ answers. This will provide you with credibility & trust which on click on link through to your website, will lead to improved ROI.

*Note that in the terms and conditions on the majority of social network sites, it states that profiles made are for personal and non commercial use only, so strong word of advice: make sure you don’t directly sell and are using it for the objective to increase awareness and traffic to your site.

Interested in social media optimisation steps to take

Seek help as to why you need to move into social media and how it could benefit you. Link the social media planning into the goals in which you are trying to accomplish within your own marketing campaigns. For example should you wish to promote your brand then YouTube (engaging videos) may be the most successful place for you to send out a viral message.
Alternatively if a major focus is that you wish to generate more links and increase your reach then creating content that can be promoted on a social news-site could be best. As well as compelling text it is also important to make sure that all the social media campaigns are optimised for search engines.

Should you be running an E-commerce site, then note that several recent studies have indicated that word of mouth has the greatest impact in purchase decisions. If a customer can see on/off your site what people with similar interest and needs are buying then this is likely to sway their decision.

In summary it is important to:

*Identify where your influencers are online
*Create the right content
*Let the consumer take control.

Create your own network

The biggest opportunity within the social network arena is to build a community within your own site, so your visitors can share their experiences and if applicable shopping lists.

Word of advice would be to set the tone right for your target market, to make sure you reach out to those people who have a particular admiration or enthusiasm for your product or service.

Should you be running an E-commerce site then you will know that consumers no longer just shop, but they also share insights into their shopping experiences and purchases. This has been named ‘social retailing’. Social retailing on or off your site can be used as an information gathering tool. Example of social retailing on a site could be: “Save products in your locker, share you locker with a friend or someone who is interested in same products as you”.

To entice this activity provide a reward scheme, where they receive points for contributions and best answers. Possibly you could provide incentive if reach X amount of reward points.

Should you run a social network off your site then it is important you make sure you follow the rules (T&Cs) at the social network sites, as several state that use of page can be for personal use only meaning no direct selling.

Did you know ? that Expedia have a Myspace page – in which they invite customers to share their travel experiences with the opportunity to win a holiday. Travelocity & Priceline also have MySpace pages. I wonder which page has the most friends……

If your social network site / page has a non commercial focus, make sure on launch you invite your readers/visitors to let you know what they would like to see on the group, whether an application (Facebook) would be useful and whether they have any ideas. Get the community involved, create a dialogue and build a relationship. Never sell directly, but do engage and build trust.

Spread the love

Best practice to spread links in the social marketing arena is to create compelling copy that people would want to share and discuss. Consider the potential of creating a simple way for your readers who have other Web sites to easily syndicate your content on their own pages.
Also if creating your own social network remember that constant innovation/something different is key to capture and keep your target.

Developing a social media plan

*Learn what people are looking for online and give it to them.

*Understand about the different target markets in social networks, ie; how does Facebook differ from Myspace & Bebo.

*Identify who are the major social influencers in social media in your industry.

*Consider creating an index, feedreader to track what they are saying. Utilise Google Alerts.

*Consider that these influencers are additional targets to reach.

*Develop a plan should you fail to deliver and people comment on poor service /product. Make sure all acknowledgements are dealt with promptly & honestly.

*Consider creating an internal blog for your employees, they can share tips and ideas on how to grow the site and consumer base.

Challenges in measuring the success of a social media campaign

*Instead of tracking page views, engagement has become the new buzz word in social marketing ROI tracking.

*Review whether visitors arrived from a social network? Which network?

*Review whether there been an influx of visitors 3 months after posting RSS news story on company.

*Review any interaction with marketing messages on and off the site?

2 comments:

SarahG said...

Top Ten Reasons: Why I think companies should leverage off the power of social networks?

1. Hard sell is out of vogue
2. Companies are seeking out ways to engage with client base
3. They can create strong connections with client base online, (brand affinity!)
4. Great place to identify trends and consumer wants
5. Their competitors may not be there or be using social networks
6. By visiting brand evangelist groups companies can be more in tune with target market
7. More and more people/potential future customers on facebook (daily/weekly)
8. Recommendations from friends are surely the greatest form of marketing
9. Word of Web marketing – pass the message on.
10. Less spam in FB than email accounts, customers in better frame of mind to receive messages.

Vasu Dev said...

very nice information
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