Internet marketers have been trying to find a good social media marketing strategy since social networks like Facebook and Twitter gained widespread popularity.
John Reinan, a columnist at MinnPost.com, wrote a post that offers some insight into how best to market using social media. Reinan, who is also a director at a marketing agency in Minneapolis, responds to an article in New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell.
Gladwell’s article, “Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted,” argues that social networks are not effective for social activism.
“The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient,” he said. “They are not a natural enemy of the status quo.”
But social activism and social marketing are far from the same thing. And Reinan points out that Gladwell says in an online discussion that social media can be useful for selling because they provide a way of “reaching a large audience on a superficial level.”
Reinan goes on to quote media consultant Chris Jordan’s comparison of social media to “a digital, always-on, Chamber of Commerce where we go to meet others and cultivate relationships.”
So what does this mean for Internet marketers?
First, social media marketing can be beneficial.
There’s a reason successful businesspeople attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. They know the people they meet there can be valuable business contacts.
Second, social media marketing will be beneficial only if it’s done right.
Those businesspeople don’t spend all their time at those meetings. Neither should marketers spend too much time on social media. They’re useful for meeting people, but relationships are formed by more direct interaction.
Carson, one of the owners of Wealthy Affiliate University, talks about the importance of building relationships in a post on the Wealthy Affiliate blog. He mentions the value of becoming a “trusted source” to people who visit your website, blog or articles.
“The key is not only to be nice, but to create a long lasting channel of trust,” he said.
You do that by offering value to people you meet online, Carson said.
“Build relationships that last by focusing on ‘helping’ versus ‘selling,’” he said. “If you treat people like commodities, they won’t react to you in a way that will benefit you in the long run.”
Creating trust. Offering value. Focusing on helping. They can be accomplished on your website much easier than on Facebook or Twitter.
So, treat social networking sites like conversations with fellow businesspeople at a monthly Chamber luncheon. Your website, blog and articles would be like the advice you’d give that person if he or she came to you with an issue connected to your expertise.
The person trusts you because you gave valuable, helpful advice. When he or she needs to purchase something, they’ll come to you.
That’s a solid social media marketing strategy that will pay off for you and your new online friends.