At this point in time, MySpace and Facebook have become household names. MySpace is still categorized as a website for the younger generation whereby individuals can chat with their friends, meet new people, and share photos and links, while Facebook has emerged as a more sophisticated, streamlined version, utilized by young and old alike. Other names and terms have worked themselves in many daily conversations: ?Social Networking?, ?Twitter?, ?LinkedIn?, and ?Web 2.0?, to name a few. Not everyone is entirely familiar with what these terms refer to, but if you own a business, or are involved marketing any sort of product or service, you definitely should. MySpace, Facebook, and other sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn are known as social networking sites; essentially a website in which an online community of individuals share information. The combination of social networking sites, along with other regularly updated information or file sharing sites, such as blogs and video sharing sites such as YouTube, are known as Web 2.0. For further clarification, you could say that websites in which the information rarely changes, such as a corporate website, is classified as Web 1.0 (even though there really isn?t such a term). But a website in which interaction with content and other visitors to the site is a key fundamental aspect, is a Web 2.0 site. Now that we understand the basic concept of Web 2.0 and social networking, let?s examine a few social networking sites in greater detail, and how they can benefit your business.
Facebook still suffers from a stigma of being a site mainly utilized by a younger generation, solely for the purpose of meeting and chatting with friends, and sharing pictures, videos, and other items of interest amongst those with similar tastes and hobbies. But don?t be so quick to categorize Facebook; not only is this perception false, the site can also be utilized as a highly effective marketing tool. As Facebook currently has over 125 million members worldwide, and many of them belonging to various groups and organizations centered around a particular interest, the opportunities for marketing a product or service, or increasing brand recognition is ripe and plentiful. For example, let?s say you sell jewelry, and you want to advertise on Facebook. Facebook advertising works similarly to Google?s Pay-Per-Click advertising; if a user posts an update with the word ?jewelry?, ?necklace?, ?diamond? or other keyword you may have chosen to attribute to your ad campaign, then your ad may appear along the sidebar of their Facebook page. However, a more important advantage of utilizing Facebook, and one that might not be too commonly known is that a Facebook page is SEO friendly. Create a Facebook page as an extension of your corporate website, and chances are you?ll show up fairly high in search engine results if someone performs a search for relevant keywords. Use your Facebook page quickly and easily post links to new articles, press releases, videos, and other information that others in your network will see almost immediately without even having to visit your main website. Be a Fan of AWG on Facebook >>
Consider LinkedIn to be the Facebook for professionals. Over 47 million members worldwide, including top executives from Fortune 500 companies, independent contractors, and experts in nearly every industry can be found on this social networking site. As such, the potential for marketing your business, service or product is only limited by the time you have to spend using the site to its fullest advantage. Individuals joining LinkedIn create a profile, detailing as little or as much information as they want. This normally includes a resume of experience, accomplishments, and a brief biography. Often the top executives of a corporation can be found, linked to a complete company profile. Making connections on LinkedIn not only increases the size of your network, but also your extended network; the connections of your connections. This means you?ll be able to contact, converse and share information with others in your industry, and also increases the potential for gaining new clients or prospects. However, simply creating a profile will not garner you the results you desire. You?ll need to remain active on the site to some degree, either by joining industry-related groups, starting discussions and answering questions about relevant topics, and tracking new leads. Join our network on LinkedIn >>
And then there?s Twitter, the latest social networking phenomenon whose membership includes everyone from celebrities, politicians, government agencies, news networks, corporate executives, college students, and everyone in between. Acting somewhat as a micro-blogging site, Twitter allows its members to post small updates instantaneously to their followers, which can number in the hundreds of thousands. Updates (referred to as ?Tweets?) can be submitted through the web, via mobile phone, or by instant messaging services. Some of the advantages of Twitter are obvious: you can post links to your corporate website, new articles and press releases, and other information, as increase online visibility and brand recognition, and connect with other industry professionals. But Twitter also allows you to market directly to those who actually want to hear what you have to say. If an individual doesn?t care about you, your company, or you updates, they won?t follow you, and won?t receive your tweets. So while a prominent advantage is being able to market directly to your target market, you?ll also need to make sure that your updates are interesting, informative, and fairly frequent, or you might find yourself losing some of your followers instead of gaining new ones. It goes without saying that the key to marketing success when using any of these social networking sites is to maintain consistent and frequent activity on your profile. Keeping content fresh not only increases your visibility in a search engine ranking algorithm, but it also keeps people coming back to your pages. It can sometimes be difficult to maintain an active profile on more than one social networking site, and not all of them may work best for you, depending upon your needs. But try to pick at least one to devote a certain amount of time to on a consistent basis. Twitter typically calls for daily updates, several times a day, while LinkedIn may only require you to be active once or twice a week. Many companies have opted to assign one or more employees to maintaining their profiles on social networking sites, while other corporations have sought the services of outside agencies to do the same. Be sure to subscribe to our Twitter feed, sign up to receive our newsletter, and check our website for upcoming articles regarding more detailed marketing capabilities of each social networking tool. Follow us on Twitter! >>