by John Eberhard
As I covered in the last 2 weeks, most people who have a website for marketing their business have one of three problems with it.
- The website is producing no leads or sales and they have no idea what to do, or whether anyone is even coming to the site
- The website is producing a few leads or sales, but the owner doesn’t know how to increase it
- The website is producing a decent flow of leads or sales, and the website owner wants to increase that, but doesn’t know how
Website Marketing Made Easy
There are essentially four methods of driving people to a web site:
- Pay per click advertising (PPC)
- Non-paid, or “organic” traffic from search engines
- Driving traffic to a blog, then referring visitors over to the main website
- Social media marketing
In the last two weeks I covered PPC, organic traffic and blogs. In this article I’ll cover social media.
Driving Traffic with a Social Media
The trick with social media marketing is to set up accounts with the various sites, get lots of “friends” or “followers,” then communicate regularly on those sites, and include links to your web site.
The top four social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. What I call the second tier sites are Plaxo, Plurk, FriendFeed, and Vox. If you have limited time to devote to this, just start accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
The next thing to do after you start accounts and fill out info on your profile (and include links to your web site or sites on the profiles), is to start connecting with people and add friends.
Some people like to use these sites just as a way to connect with personal friends, and if so that’s fine. But if you want to use social media as a way to promote your business and your web site, you should think in terms of getting thousands of friends or followers. Facebook allows you a maximum of 5,000 friends, and Twitter has a sort of ceiling at 2,000 but you can break through that if you work at it. I currently have 3,500 friends on Facebook, and 4,400 followers on Twitter. I wrote an earlier article on developing lots of followers on Twitter.
I have had a policy on Facebook for a long time, that I will propose being a Facebook friend to people that have at least 20 friends in common with me.
Once you start developing some friends/followers, then you have to post what are called “status updates” regularly saying what you are doing. It’s best to do this several times a day if possible. This is a bit of an art form, because you do not want to post “Buy my stuff” messages all day long as you will really turn people off and they will “un-friend” you or at least block you so they can’t see your updates.
I see even some web marketing “gurus” who should know better, who post stuff about their products all day long.
Here is my status update posting advice:
- Post updates throughout the day, talking about what you are doing with your business. This reinforces the fact and reminds people of what you do and what your business is, but not in an obnoxious way. For instance, if you a real estate agent, post that you just had a sale go through escrow, or that you have a new listing (with a link to it), or a comment on the current market.
- Occasionally include links to any new things you have done online, such as a link to a new blog post or article, a link to a free white paper offering, or a book you are selling.
- Post links to interesting articles by others that you have found, or articles about interesting things in your industry. However, don’t let this be the only thing you ever post. I see some people who do this and my thought is “Do you ever have an original thought yourself?”
- Post things about personal stuff in your life occasionally, like your kids, your vacation, your personal interests, etc. You may think this is dumb, but it personalizes you, and tends to avoid people shutting you off because you’re always just hyping your business.
Handling Outflow and Inflow
This is tricky because if you don’t watch it social media sites can just soak up hours of your time, and you end up wondering “What did I do all day?”
For outflow, meaning your outgoing communications to these sites, I recommend starting an account on www.Ping.fm, then hooking up all your social media accounts to it. That way you can post a status update on Ping.fm and it automatically goes out on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Ping.fm has a 140 character limit to your status update, which is the same as Twitter. So by using that site you don’t have to log into each account and post things separately, which saves you time and gets your message out to more people.
Both Facebook and Twitter will send you an email every time someone interacts with you, so it is good to set up mail rules and have those emails dumped into a sub-folder automatically rather than cluttering up your inbox.
I think it is best to set aside a certain time each day to look at these emails and to browse through what your friends are posting, and possibly limit how much time you spend on it.
With that said, however, I believe it is important to spend some time reviewing what other people are saying and to respond to it, comment on it, etc. This keeps you engaged and real to people on your friends list.
Social media marketing can be a good source of traffic and business. I have closed a number of sales from it, including the biggest web design project I have done so far.