Social marketing, the rising star of the internet marketing world

Social marketing is the rising star of the internet marketing world and is in the process of being shrouded in hype by clever marketers trying to get you to part with your cash. In return they will push whatever you want to pushed in front of an ever increasing hoard of internet socialites.

Social marketing is another name for metaphorically getting ‘out and about’ on the internet and striking up relationships in an attempt to promote your business / personal endeavours.  Lets say you are the owner of a website that sells sporting memorabilia, you would try and relate to people that will have an active interest in this type of product.

Forums and blogs have been around for some years.  It’s no secret that contributing on blogs and forums that discuss your product or service and making interesting informed comments will increase your exposure.

This may all seem like hard work and the rewards may not appear to be worth it.  However, there are many success stories where individuals have contrived to be very active on blogs and forums in their community.  And have managed to turn this activity into a substantial gain.

Social marketing has other benefits, people often like a personal touch and like to buy from companies or people who know what they are talking about.  If you have a good knowledge of your industry and the product you sell you could quickly establish yourself as a leader in your field.  If this is indeed the impression you give, people will be inclined to pay attention to you and ultimately purchase your products.

Recently, new social marketing opportunities are presenting themselves through platforms such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook (for more, please see this comprehensive Social Network List). These sites attract thousands of real human visitors and if you go to the right areas you can find plenty of people who potentially, will be interested in what you are selling. You may be advised not to jump straight in and start advertising. Make yourself known to your target community, build a few relationships, maybe include the odd link to your website once in a while where you think it warrants it. Simple interaction and relationship building is more important than link building at this stage. People will come to you in good time rather than you chasing them. You just have to make the first step and assign twenty minutes to half an hour a day to become more visible and establish relationships in communities that have the potential to refer you your target customers.

Results and timescales may vary, some communities are much larger than others but it’s generally relative, smaller communities are often easier to establish yourself as a market leader as there is less competition. Larger communities carry more traffic and you will get your share based on your activity and professionalism.  Either way a little hard work can go a very long way.

Creating a market

create_a_marketIf your business is based on the internet your initial marketing focus should probably be almost exclusively internet based.

I have gone to great lengths in the past to try and dissuade people from promoting (possibly great) but obscure products on-line, in the knowledge that people tend to use the internet to research, find and purchase products they are already aware of. It stands to reason that people aren’t going to look for items they don’t know exist.

There are, of course, techniques where you can attempt to create a market for your product. It’s a very risky strategy to base a new internet site on a innovative concept or product line, as people in general may find it difficult to grasp the concept.  Also, putting your point across within the average persons attention span is often extremely difficult.  However, the internet would be pretty dull if it could not be used to discuss and promote new and innovative concepts and products.

Understanding where your product fits into the market place is key. Attaining an extensive knowledge of who is likely to be interested in your products and the sites where those people spend their time on the internet is also very important. Once you have an understanding of who your target audience is, you then need to find the sites, discussion boards, forums and blogs they read.

The next part is potentially very difficult. On the internet the average window of opportunity where you can hold the visitors attention is limited to a maximum of a couple of sentences (or a single well constructed image, where the advertising medium allows). If you can produce a two-sentence catch-line that creates significant interest in your product you may have cracked it.

You need to create a catch-line that is sufficiently irresistible that people feel compelled to have a look at what treasures lie on the page behind the link. Once you have their attention it is then your job, once again, within a very short space of time, to create a need for your product within the visitors life. You will be amazed how quickly people lose interest and click away; you have to blow their socks off within the first couple of seconds. Remember once you have them within your own web-space you can construct your pages however you want, quality descriptive pictures, interesting descriptions and limelight grabbing headlines can be used as you see fit. Having a catch-line that gets the visitors to your site in the first place is key and most advertising mediums available will only afford you a couple of sentences to generate this interest.

Lifestyle, love, sex, relationships, money, wealth, power, health, fitness, security and entertainment are some of the themes you can use to appeal to your target markets basic wants and needs. Use every trick in the book to tie your product to an aspiration within a mainstream theme.

For example Rolex never advertise watches they advertise the lifestyle and the perception that wearing the watch creates. People who wear Rolex watches crave the high-life; often they also like others to believe they are successful people. Rolex’s clever marketing convinces the customer that being seen wearing a Rolex will convince other people that the wearer is a successful person who is living the high-life. 

Your website is, in effect, one big advert, every page should be constructed to promote whatever it is your website is selling. Even non-commercial websites are selling you something, simple informational sites are there to provide you with a service in the hope that you will return again or tell other people about the site. Otherwise, what’s the point?