The idea of more personal searched results is also a trend we’re seeing more of. You can see evidence of this in some search results where the listings will be appended with any of your contacts that have a relationship with the result, for example if they have re-tweeted something on Twitter. You can use this to your advantage by building relationships with your customers through your social network channels. When their contacts search for similar terms you get the equivalent of an “as used by” stamp of someone they trust.
So moving away from the direct effect on your search positions social networks can also have a positive effect on how many visitors you get to your site and as a marketing channel even when your website isn’t ranking so well. Imagine you make a new widget to help new mothers. If no one knows that these new widgets exist it’s going to be pretty hard to get people to search for it and find them in search results. However if you can get your happy customers to share the link through Facebook, Twitter etc. There’s a pretty good possibility that they will have friends who are also mothers and also interested in your product and attracted to your site. Obviously press releases and traditional marketing are still going to play a part in your marketing strategy but having your customers spread your message is a very powerful tool I’m sure you’ll agree.
At this point I want to point out that although there a big gains to be made from social networks it’s not enough to just spam out links and expect a flurry of new customers. The rules haven’t really changed much from the traditional offline world. You still need to create interesting content that people want to engage in, you have to respect your customers and not bombard them. Just getting a load of auto responders isn’t going to get you very far in the long run. One important difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing is that social media marketing often carries with it the message of those that share and pass your on your message. For instance if you were to take out an add in a magazine you could have a pretty good idea of how many people would see it no matter how good your product was. However in a social media situation if your product isn’t any good or the way it’s presented isn’t interesting it’s unlikely to get shared nor attract strong recommendations.
So assuming you’ve got a good product how do you start building your social profile. Well the two big social networks in the UK are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is generally considered more of a personal network with connections usually staying between people who have a stronger “real” connection with each other. But they do allow profile pages for products and businesses and this is also where you can host Facebook Apps. Twitter is more like a pub conversation; there’s often people you know but also random strangers and often someone trying to sell you something from the back of their van (don’t be one of those people). If you or your company don’t already have a presence on Facebook or Twitter my advice is to sign up for an account and just have a look around and observe what other people are doing see if any of your competition or businesses you respect are there and how they use it. This will give you pretty good idea of the unwritten rules of engagement. If you decide not to use social media after your in initial toe dipping it might still be an idea to claim a good account name for your company. The last thing you want is for someone to open an account in your name and start spoiling your reputation. Fill in the profile information and perhaps enough up to date information so people know how to contact you and your account doesn’t look completely abandoned.
For help and advice on how you can integrate social networks into your site, including marketing strategies and Facebook application drop us a line.
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