The struggle to begin with was how to harness online viewers to turn them into valued customers, and ultimately to turn your followers into real currency. Without converting them into anything meaningful social networking would just be a fruitless project fun maybe, but with no real commercial value. To some the earning potential is obvious, maybe by selling your content to paying subscribers, or by charging for advertising on your site, blog or other network. But for some the way to use successful social media marketing is still proving elusive. Take newspapers for example. They still have paying customers happy to read the in-print version of their product, and advertisers are happy to take out full page promotions in their papers, but when it comes to online its a different story. Try making someone pay to view news online, when there is so much strong competition offering the same product for free. And which advertiser is going to put money on appearing on a website for just one click in ten?
The answer? To be creative. You have to offer something different from your competitors if you hope to stand a chance at making money from your social networking venture. Alternatively, forget making the money online and instead focus on spreading the word about your product so people will visit you in the real world, rather than just the digital one.
Stick to what you know best
It makes sense to stick to tried and tested methods of social marketing. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have been around for so long now that theyre obviously working. It makes sense to use whats readily available and where so many of your customers are already visiting on a daily basis. Make yourself stand out by using the social networking site to the best of your ability. Use eye catching photography, ask questions to encourage viewers to participate in discussions and share your links. You can go a step further by using photo sharing websites to enhance your Facebook image, sites such as Instagram can make your photography look really professional for no extra cost, and you can streamline your social networking together so you are using minimum effort to get maximum coverage across a broad range of social networking tools.
Social media marketing is a broad spectrum which means that pretty much anyone can get stuck in and use the tools available to promote themselves online. This doesnt mean everyone does it well however. Some people in fact do it terribly and can make a bad name for themselves by using online networking sites to detrimental effect. Look at sites that you think are bad and ask yourself why this is so. Could you do any better? How? Then look at the ones you visit frequently, ask yourself whose market strategy you buy into and then draw up a plan for how you would like to present yourself. Before you launch headlong into your great ideas, ask friends and family what they think. Maybe mock up a webpage and show it around before you make it go live. Know that first impressions really count when it comes to making it a success.
Look at the stats
Its easy to blindly amble along in the world of digital media, pinging up a picture here and there, making random comments, and friending anyone who looks at your profile. But if you really want to enhance your image and promote your product brand online you need to know where you stand in the world of analytics. When do your page views peak? How many unique users are you getting per month? Are you viewers increasing month on month? By getting to grips with these statistics you can build a model of the kind of people reading about you, what they enjoy, what they interact with and what they are looking for in future. With clever tools to monitor how your marketing is developing you can increase the amount of web traffic you receive which in turn will get more people spreading the word and creating stronger brand awareness for both yourself and your product or business.
Dont despair if its a slow start
To begin with youll find it really is tricky to get thousands of unique viewers, readers or followers. Even the first 100 can be a real challenge and youll need to put a lot of hard work into getting off the ground. If you remember that the digital networking game is more a marathon than a sprint then you can take comfort in knowing as long as you have steady growth, this in turn will perpetuate more viewers. It takes time to get a strong following but with persistence youll build up a fan base that will help you to spread the word and share links about your business hence doing the marketing for you. Social media marketing is something that takes a lot of effort to get right. But when you do get it right, the hard work will start to be done for you.
Get started now
If you havent already started, get online now. In the heady world of digital marketing its a case of survival of the fittest and if youre not even in the race you dont stand a chance at getting seen by your potential customers. Start a blog, set up a Facebook page, join Twitter and LinkedIn, learn about Instagram and Pinterest and decide what works for you and what doesnt. Start following expert blogs on social networking and marketing and you will learn which new programmes are available and which new networking tools are of benefit to you and your business. See what other businesses similar to yours are doing in the digital world and how they market themselves.
Think outside the box
There are very few boundaries with online marketing. Aside from the very important considerations like being wary of libellous and defamatory comments, and of course from putting yourself and your business into disrepute, you can be creative and artistic, you can make digital friends from all corners of the earth and have fun with your product. You can be witty and opinionated; you can cause a stir and make people laugh, use videos and images or simply the written word. With so much scope to let your creativity flow, you should find a way to capture an audience and let it grow from there. Listen to your readers or followers and let them guide you to what works and what doesnt, and allow your social media marketing skills to develop as you learn more about the digital world in which youre dealing.