How can you accomplish your online branding goals as efficiently as possible?
Social Media Marketing (SMM) has become a popular alternative for online business branding. Companies don't think of social sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin) as "websites for kids". They are valuable Internet marketing and networking resources for business. On the other hand, there are 4 major issues involved with diving into SMM without the proper knowledge and strategies. These can "make" or "break" your success in social media marketing:
GETTING STARTED IN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Make wise choices from the beginning and move forward with a "plan of action"!
Prior to getting started in social media marketing, you need to nip the urge to join every single social site on Google. It does not hurt to have a presence everywhere on the Internet, though there is no advantage in wasting time setting up a social account that is not used. The site owner may delete it - OR - it will get outdated and look unprofessional. Plus, there is no way that you can "work" them all unless you have a team to help you. You will still want to be discerning and make a "plan of action". You need this to properly brand your business through social media marketing. You also need this "plan of action" in order to "position" your company correctly from the beginning. This concept holds true in Internet marketing in general.
PROPER SET UP
Meet your social market where they work and play on the Internet!
You need to learn how to "set up" and "position" your company with the "best" social networks and websites. Some initial positioning details to consider: (a) determining which are the "best social sites" for your niche and interests, (d) choosing the right user name for your individual profile links, (c) choosing the most attractive profile information and media to share, (d) developing a knack for filtering activity according to what is appropriate at a particular social site, (e) establishing a time schedule that permits working as many networks as possible, (f) choosing the best initial connections ... and so on.
Keep in mind that "Account Settings", network protocol, niche and viral marketing all go hand in hand throughout time.
Additionally, some social sites have a more playful environment than others; even those with a professional focus. You need to select websites that not only fit your company's focus, but also the personal interests of the individual(s) that will "work" the social media marketing process for you. Note: Don't let the "playful" networks defer you. One of the goals of social media marketing is to reach your target markets where they work and "play" on the Internet.
IMPLEMENTATION: WHAT TO DO & WHAT NOT TO DO
Don't just "wing it"; move prepared to market effectively for your business.
Your activity should include a predefined social media optimization (SMO) strategy. This SMO is a combination of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM). It expedites the professional results that you require for your business. It is easy to assume that SMM is simply setting up social networks and marketing. Although this is part of the process, social networking is not all that is involved in social media marketing. It is suggested that you have a website and a blog. You need to search engine optimize any personal resources prior to SMM. You need a second set of keywords that do not conflict with your personal virtual properties, though compliment your efforts.
Content is key to this offsite marketing process, therefore blogs, articles, comments, discussions, images, videos, link ... everything SMM needs to correspond with the SEO.
There is a fine line to what is considered advertising and marketing; spam or valid content. Some social sites are flexible and others are not. You need to move into a virtual realm with a professional plan of action and work the network according to the infrastructure provided, though with intent to produce rapid conversions.
TESTING, TRACKING & REFINING
You will need to test, tread, track and refine before you can run with a strategy.
As with an offline business plan, your online branding strategy will need "tweaked" and updated for the following reasons:
(a) The Internet is constantly changing, you will need to update accordingly.
(b) Search engine rankings, blog / website traffic and subscribers mean absolutely nothing if you are not able to convert this activity into sales.
You cannot move forward if your plan of action is not working for you.
PRIORITIZING TASKS: MONEY & TIME MANAGEMENT
As the old saying goes, "time is money" ...
If you get one major point from this article, prioritizing "time" and "money" is what you should remember. Internet marketing is not easy for most; especially when you are merging into unfamiliar arenas. Time and money are the "double edge sword". Handling your own online branding is only time and cost effective if it is making you money. The reality is that you will not drive conversions nor make money at first because it takes time to learn Internet Marketing. This is time that busy professionals do not have, therefore you either have to put in the extra hours or hire an expert to do the work for you. If you choose to do your own search engine optimization and social media marketing, then you need to prioritize whether the bulk of your activity is on the Learning, Researching or the Implementation (Content, SEO, SMM) at any given time. The advantage is that you can adjust this as needed.
Regardless, a proper online branding strategy will include both the technical and social, therefore they are all one in the same, time consuming, process.
Online business branding and social networking appear to be easy, on the surface, though not a simple process. There are defined strategies that should include both search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) in order to create a process called social media optimization (SMO). This SMO is actually the online marketing that you want to do for your business. When done correctly, the SMO will produce immediate responses that are easy to track, increase sales and creates a popularity that contributes to fast branding success. You can change the sales / marketing conversions for your business within a few days or gradually "divide and conquer" your competitive online business arena. In other words, your business can market as aggressively or conservatively as needed. This is based on how your company is equipped to handle growth.
In this generation of Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, it is to your benefit to learn how to properly brand your business online or find someone that knows how to do this for you.