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A duffers guide to social marketing media

What are the main social media marketing and social networking channels open for business?
there are a number of smm channels (otherwise known as social networking and ‘user-generated content’ platforms) available for businesses to utilise. the majority of smm channels should be familiar as they include a number of well-known household names.

Here’s a brief overview of the key social media marketing channels:

Blogging (or “weblogging”)

There are literally thousands of blogs out there on the “blogosphere” (just like this one) and whatever your industry sector there will be at least one that’s relevant to you!

The typical varying degrees of involvement for businesses when it comes to blogs are:

1. find them (via google reader and bloglines)
2. read them
3. comment on them
4. create & go blog yourself! (blogger, typepad and wordpress are among the best)

Really simple syndication (or rss)

rss is a great way to get your brand, product or service news and updates in front of interested people without the need for sending costly mass email communications, in real time. They allow users to aggregate & group content around particular subjects (using feedburner or google news) as well as re-purpose, re-publish and create content.

Due to the simplicity and lack of formatting of rss, they work really well across many media including various browsers, pdas, mobile phones and so on. They’re relatively easy to set up on your website or blog and even easier to sign up for.

Check out feedburner or google news to get started.

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is all about flagging web content (yours and others) as interesting and/or relevant to particular keyword ‘tags’ or groups.

It’s an excellent (and easy) way to save content for when you have more time, or indeed ‘forever’. social bookmarking is a great way to save interesting press articles, important industry websites (competitors, suppliers) and so on in a single place. This is great for people who work remotely as it can act as a virtual ‘favourites’ on your browser, although you will need to remember those all important login details!

As well as acting as a good online resource for your use (and anyone else who appreciates your tagging), social bookmarking also provides lots of nicely targeted links to your website which is always good for search engine optimisation (seo).

Check out del.icio.us, digg, reddit, stumbleupon, mixx and (for those in the seo category) small business brief.

Social search

Keep a keen eye out for customer reviews out there, both good and bad, and respond accordingly. deal with the negative ones but don’t forget to thank people for positive reviews too. remember, you can’t please all the people all the time but it’s better to show you care – this is called “social” marketing after all!

Note that this isn’t just about firefighting customer issues, it’s also a great way to help with search engine optimisation (seo). the more mentions of your company, brand, product or service across the wider internet, and the more links to your website, the better you are likely to perform on the search engine rankings.

Check out yahoo local, local.com, google maps to start with but remember there will be places specific to your business sector, e.g. tripadvisor for the travel industry.

Social networking

If you’re not on Facebook or Linkedin by now then you’re definitely missing out on business opportunities. you can set up a personal profile as well as a wider organisational or brand/product-specific presence and these offer an additional channel for existing and potential customers and business partners to engage with you and your brand.

That said, you certainly don’t want to approach this lightly! setting up a presence for your brand on facebook, for example, will require a significant level of management (depending on the size of your brand of course) as it needs to be monitored regularly and constantly developed, with new content (editorial, imagery and video) needed regularly to keep it looking fresh and up-to-date.

Check out Facebook, Linkedin and Myspace. if you’re looking for something more specific (and, trust me, there are a lot of specific networks out there!) then take a look at http://mashable.com/2007/10/23/social-networking-god/.

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