by John Eberhard

Facebook and Twitter are the biggest social media sites right now. Both can be used effectively for marketing purposes, but you have to know how.

Facebook Marketing

There are three main ways to market oneself on Facebook, through a personal profile page, through a corporate or “fan” page, and with pay per click advertising.

Facebook’s pay per click program is pretty good, but that’s a topic for another article. As for Facebook’s corporate or fan pages, many, many companies are putting these up right now, and I for one get half a dozen “become a fan of my page” messages per day. So I think this medium is getting a bit saturated and the effectiveness is dropping thereby, unless you are already a celebrity or well known.

That leaves the personal profile page, and I have found this to be a very effective way to market my business and I have gotten business from it. They key is to build up lots of friends. First, find a bunch of your personal friends, and add them. Then formulate a strategy for adding people that you don’t know to your friends list. I have had the policy of adding people who have 20 or more friends in common with me.

On your home page, on the top right is a section called “Requests,” and if you have any requests pending and click on this, you will see a column on the right that says “Suggestions.” This list shows 4 people you could propose to be Facebook friends with, and under each person’s name, it shows how many mutual friends they have with you. This is a handy way of going through and finding people who have a lot of mutual friends. I sometimes get someone emailing me after I’ve sent them a friend request, saying “Do I know you?,” to which I respond “No, but we have a lot of mutual friends.” They almost always then approve it after that.

Twitter Marketing

The first thing with Twitter is that you have to have a lot of followers, otherwise no one will see your communications. You need to build up your followers to 1,000, 2,000 or more. The usual way to get a lot of followers is to follow someone and then they will in most cases follow you back.

Of course this is time consuming. The first thing you should do is to search for some of your friends who you figure might be on Twitter and them follow them. Then you need to come up with a strategy for adding followers that are potential clients or customers for your business.

There are a number of software packages or online services that will automate the following process to one degree or another. Tweet Adder is an excellent tool. I have recently started using TweetSpinner.com, a free tool (with paid upgrade for more features). TweetSpinner allows you to automatically “un-follow” people you have followed but have not followed you in return. You press the “purge” button and it will “un-follow” 20 of these people at a time, and you can do this multiple times in one session.

TweetSpinner will also allow you to automatically follow people who have followed you but you haven’t followed back yet, 20 at a time. You can also select a keyword, and the system will locate people who have used that keyword in their messages, or “tweets” (I’m glad I didn’t come up with that word), and then follow 30 of them at a time. By selecting the right keywords, this can be effective in allowing one to target people who are potential clients, in that they are discussing topics relevant to your business. Then a certain percentage of them will follow you back.

So the method I have found effective is to jockey these two factors back and forth; adding new people that you are following, then a few days later, un-following those that didn’t follow you back. Rinse and repeat.

Communications Out

I use a site called Ping.fm and have my Twitter and Facebook personal profile hooked up to it, so that when I post something on Ping, it automatically goes out to my Facebook and Twitter (and other) accounts. Ping.fm limits you to 140 characters similar to Twitter, so it is an ideal tool to save time for posting to these sites like Twitter that allow you only a short message.

You have to find a strategy for what to post that will work for you. This should not be “buy my stuff,” “buy my stuff,” “buy my stuff,” as this is frowned upon in social media in general and will turn people off. If you are constantly pitching your products or services in your status updates, people will remove you from their friend or follower list.

A strategy I have used that has worked for me is to post messages several times a day, saying what I am working on with my business. For example, if I just designed a new web site or blog, I post a link to it. Or I’ll say that I am working on a new pay per click advertising account for a client, or sending out press releases, or writing a marketing plan. I will occasionally post something saying I’m offering my book on sale or here is a link to a free white paper, but I limit the frequency of that.

This approach is relatively non-offensive to the social media universe and tends to reinforce daily that I am an Internet marketing consultant and I offer these services. So it keeps it in people’s minds that I do that. And this has worked for me and has gotten me business. And I believe it can work for you too.