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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Social-Media Marketing Essentials

How you can balance the need to be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media to build your business without letting them take over your life


Developing and managing a community can be time-intensive, but the effort can yield tangible results if the commitment is made. Online communities are different than newsletters in that greater interaction is required, including soliciting answers to questions (e.g., polls) and replying to comments to keep people engaged. The end payoff is usually a loyal following eager to share your work and access to a subscriber list that contains high-quality leads.

Curation
Another model to grow and keep an audience of fans engaged is to share interesting information from other sources in a curated fashion. While writing original content is a fast path to defining and sharing one's expertise, curating content that's of personal and professional interest gives people extra insights and ideas. This helps tie an audience into one's inner thinking and tastes while continuing to provide a venue to engage others who are interested in similar topics and content. Curated content is often shared with reference to the person who first noted the content; as a result, it's a great way to introduce yourself to other bloggers or social-media power users who can help you reach larger audiences. Curated content also allows you to tap into exponential follower growth. Followers share your content with their network who, in turn, share it with theirs, and so on.

Best Practices
Regardless of your strategy, the key to success for any, or all, of them is to be consistent, dedicated and creative, develop a schedule, plan ahead, use new online tools as they become available to streamline your efforts and always provide a link back to your website in your profile information. Most importantly, you should take note of two other best practices.

One, provide content of value to others, not just to you. Social-media marketing requires a delicate balance between sharing valuable content and self-promotion. To avoid turning off your audience, avoid too much self-promotion. A good rule of thumb is to share one item of self-promotion for every nine updates referencing content of value from other sources. Talking too much about yourself or being too pitchy quickly alienates your audience just as if you were to do so in person at a party.

Two, as much as possible, interact with and energize your audience. Unlike a regular website where you post content and move on, social-media sites allow you to converse with your audience. This is great for networking on both a personal and business level, allowing you to get a direct line to the interests and needs of your audience. An audience you connect with is more likely to be energized and share your content with their audience.

Jim Goldstein is a professional outdoor and travel photographer, as well as the VP of Marketing at BorrowLenses.com. Follow him on Twitter (@jimgoldstein), Facebook (www.facebook.com/jmggalleries) and Google+ (www.gplus.to/jimgoldstein).

 

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