There are three major online marketing channels for any business these days: blogging, social media, and email. If you haven’t read the first post in this series, check it out. It covers blog marketing for business. In this post, we’re going to cover the second point in what I call the Golden Triangle of Online Marketing: social media.
To someone who hasn’t been steeped in web culture from its beginnings in the early 90s (and even earlier in some cases), social media doesn’t seem like an appropriate business marketing channel. After all, it’s… social. It seems like a waste of valuable time: we’re just shooting the breeze or even playing games with people and other silliness.
Where Does “Social” Happen?
Pretend we’re back in the old days before the advent of telecommunications. Where did a lot of business actually take place? In places of business? Sure, of course, but where else? Star for you if you said cocktail parties, pubs, conventions, golf courses, hunting trips… in other words, social gatherings of some type.
Let’s jump back to the present day (whew… the hygiene is much better here!). Same question: where does business actually happen? A high percentage of it still takes place in social settings. It’s just that now we have a new social setting: the web. And because people are social creatures, this new social “setting” (or tools, depending on how you look at it–kind of like the whole photon vs. particle thing with light, but I digress…) is where business takes place. It’s available to us 24/7 on any internet-connected device.
It’s possible for web-based social settings & tools to be the only ones we use, but using “real life” settings & tools along with the web still gives us the best relationships with other people. And that’s what matters, and what gives us the best results in the long run (if we were to be so focused on the bottom line).
The Two-fold Job of Social Media in Online Marketing
Social media has two jobs to accomplish for us in online marketing:
- Build relationships for mutual benefit
- Send traffic back to your blog
These two goals reinforce each other, too. Each needs the other for social media as an online marketing channel to be effective. And while these two points are the “job” of social media in online marketing, there are a number of benefits wrapped up in this:
- You have listening posts in social media so you can always understand how your business is perceived and what your market is really hungry for.
- Opportunities will come from your social interactions online just like they do from offline social activities.
- You will get greater traffic to your money-making online properties, resulting in greater sales.
- Your authority in your market will grow.
How Social Media Accomplishes This
Here’s a quick rundown of how, exactly, using social media accomplishes all this wonderfulness for you:
- Each social media site you belong to gives you a profile page with links back to your blog and often a biography and picture.
- Your interactions with others in social media, if done correctly, will cause people to want to know more about you, so they will visit your profile page to do so. From here they can add you as a friend and/or visit your blog.
- Profile pages tend to show up in search results, too, which means that even if someone else has the same name as you, your name will show up top in search if you have a bigger social media footprint. There are other Michael Martines out there, but none of them are ever going to beat me in a search for that name.
- In your interactions with others on social media, your goal is to provide information your market wants and to be helpful to your market. This builds trust, traffic, and, ultimately… sales.
- One of easiest ways to do this is to simply post links to helpful information in your social streams. Some of those links (the minority) should be to your own blog posts in order to create value for your market and send traffic back to your blog.
- Engaging in chat-style conversations to help others is another easy way to do this: just be there for people and offer a helping hand when you can.
- One of the goals of social media is to drive traffic back to the blog. Make this easier by adding in social media tools to your blog so that your readers can help you with this.
What About Tools? Which Ones?
You’ll notice that in all of this I haven’t mentioned a single specific social media tool, like Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter. There are good reasons for that. This is not a “how to” article for any tool. The main tools right now (note that emphasis) are Facebook and Twitter. There are plenty of others that resonate with some folks but not others (Reddit vs. Digg vs. LinkedIn, for example).
New tools are created, old tools fall out of favor. The tools aren’t the important thing, it’s what they do for us: they help us connect with other human beings. There are a bazillion posts out there on specific tools and even blogs dedicated to them. The top ones are good, just google it and you’ll be golden.
How is it Working for You?
How are social media and blogging working for you as closely related online marketing channels? Any frustrations or insights you’d like to share? Have at it in the comments!