Social networking seems to be the new catch phrase for many internet marketers. Yet it leaves many busy business owners wondering if it is worth all the hype. Social networking takes time, time that many business owners just dont feel they have.
So is Social Networking worth the hype?
Yes and no. It largely depends on how it is approached. Social networking is the process of joining professional and social networking sites for the specific purpose of creating business and ultimately profits.
Social networking can result in:
Powerful business partnerships Customer relationships Added value and benefit to the community Improved credibility and expert status Brand awareness Increased reach and exposure Gained knowledge and education
Social networking is a very powerful tool and it can result in tremendous profits however if approached with the sole purpose of generating profits, efforts may fall short. Here are a few guidelines to get the most from social networking
Where to join?One mistake many business owners make is to join too many groups. To get real value from a forum, membership site, or chat room you have to have the time to contribute on a regular basis. Belonging to 10 social networking sites is great if you have the time to contribute to them every week, however it is recommended to start small. Dip your toe in so to speak. Join one or two groups that provide the most value at the time. As your business grows and your schedule allows, add more groups to your list.
Join groups that are specific to your industry. There is a forum or membership on just about every topic under the sun. Fitness, pet training, recycling, hiring, cleaning, software, coffee drinking, etc the list goes on and on. Additionally, there are professional forums and social networking sites that can provide tremendous value. LinkedIn is one of the growing professional networking sites, and WarriorForum is a very popular forum among internet marketers.
To find groups to research simply type your industry and the word forum or membership site into your search engine of choice and see what comes up. For example, surfing + Forum generated 579,000 results on Google. Thats a lot of surfing forums!
How often to contribute?In order to make your presence noted and to have any kind of effect on a networking site, business professionals have to make regular contributions to the site. Otherwise membership is nothing more than a business card stuffed in a pocket. No one will know youre there.
So what is a regular contribution? Weekly visits to a membership site or networking site are a minimum requirement. Many networkers schedule social networking into their calendar. For example, on Wednesday nights they schedule two hours to visit their forums and social networking sites they belong to.
How to promote subtly.
When evaluating membership sites, forums and networking sites it is important to make sure a personalized signature is part of joining. Your signature is the one resource that fellow members have to find you online. Most sites do not allow blatant self promotion so that means a signature can be key. Be sure to include a link to your website and a quick USP that states what you do.
Two tools to help. Because forums and membership sites can contain thousands of posts, it takes a lot of time to read through posts and decide which are appropriate to respond to and which are not. http://www.botsurfer.com/ is a tool that can scan forums for you based on preset criteria and cut your social networking time in half.
Adding a social networking feature to your business website. A great way to get involved in social networking is to create your own forum right on your companys website. Snitz forums, http://forum.snitz.com/, offers free ASP based forum software. Its a solid product thats been around for more than 10 years.