Friday, June 26, 2009

What Is Social Networking? (And Why Does My Business Need It?)

"Social networking" is a product of what is called "Web 2.0." Social networking has become a huge component of Internet marketing strategies, and it will only get bigger. By participating in social networking on the Internet, you are humanizing your brand and developing relationships with others who are relevant to your niche. This of course includes potential customers, so "targeted social networking" involves identifying your desired demographic and positioning yourself among them "socially" on the net. Social networking is something like a big networking cocktail party where you are being friendly and socializing...but where you also have your business cards at the ready.

"Keeping it real" is one of the aims of effective social networking. The whole thing is evolving, but I think our Content Dude understands the perfect balance. You want to further your business aims through relationship building without coming across like a pitchman.

How do you do all of this? To network at a cocktail party, you have to show have to be "present." So to participate in social networking on the web, you need "presences" within popular social networking sites. You build a presence and animate it with content that is borne of participation in ongoing discussions. This ongoing interactive content becomes the persona or voice of your company as it exists in the social network.

Which social networks a particular business should participate in can vary depending on the niche of the business and their desired demographic.

Having a company blog is square one, because unlike most e-commerce websites, which are marketing vehicles, a blog contains dynamic content with a human voice behind it. You can comment on other blogs, get your blog listed in relevant directories, and use it to build relationships.

Twitter is huge. Twitter is what it is, but it is also going to be used more and more as a search engine. Rumors abound that Google is trying to buy Twitter. Cultivating a Twitter presence and gaining authority in your niche is a must, sooner rather than later.

Businesses can have a Facebook page. They can also have a MySpace page and use it for networking. Linked In groups are great targeted social networking vehicles. YouTube provides another extremely valuable social networking channel.

Squidoo is a blogging platform and social network
of sorts that is very useful and well conceived.

Internet Content Providers offer our clients a suite of social networking services tailored to their particular niche with a primary focus on the ones that I touched on above. We would love to help you get the word out about the incredibly fantastic stuff that you have to offer the world!

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