Like it or not, social media is here to stay. Facebook has over 600 million users worldwide; Twitter claims to have over 200 million and LinkedIn hit 100 million users back in March. Long before Facebook and Bing joined forces in May, both Google and Bing were incorporating social signals into their search results. Social profiles can rank in the search engines, increasing your online brand presence; trending topics on Twitter on complied in the RealTime results section of Google, Bing now shows you which of your friends have “liked” a link and more. There is no denying that social media will have a lasting effect on search marketing and SEO.
But just because social media seems to be heralded as the second coming, it is not the end-all-be-all magic bullet to your online marketing needs. A social networking profile is only as good and as useful as you make it to be. Just like SEO, social media marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it marketing technique. Social media is 24-7, which means you better be an active participant if you want to make any headway. Social networking is all about making connections and establishing relationships. It is not the place to make a sales push. As a critical component of inbound marketing (along with SEO) social media marketing gives you the chance to connect with your consumers on a personal level, monitor your online brand reputation, build your brand presence and more. But you have to be smart about it!
I know that Wikipedia is never supposed to be used as a source, but there is a great list of social networking sites that you should check out. There are hundreds of social networking sites for every kind of niche audience! Which one do you think your consumers use, in addition to the big three?
While these smaller social networking sites may not have the reach or brand recognition of Facebook, that doesn’t mean they don’t have value. Being able to communicate with a very targeted audience is a boon for businesses. The more targeted your audience, the better chance your messaging has of having an impact and prompting action.
If you want to create a social networking profile, make sure you have the time and resources to really use that profile! While you could create the profile just to get the link, there is so much more value in building your online community on that site. The purpose of a social networking site is to network! If you don’t have the time, energy or desire to really make a space for yourself on any given social network, what is the point?
As social media matures, companies are realizing that it takes a lot of time and effort to run a successful social media marketing strategy. It’s not enough to have a profile anymore. Time to start using them or risk getting lost in the shuffle.