Since social networking, in theory and in general, is a free method of promoting yourself, your website and/or your business, you should have every inclination to use social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to your full advantage.
There are many effective methods to combine the power of these social networks with your own product or website, depending on the specific need you have. In essence, the entire idea behind promotion via Facebook, Twitter or other networks is to use your web of 'friends' and contacts to gain more exposure, promote your products and (hopefully!) make more money. Here are four major steps to take from being a social networking newbie to powering your business with social network juice.
1. Interlink your Accounts
Perhaps one of the first steps you need to take is to interlink as many of your social networking profiles and accounts as you can. For example, you can interlink your Facebook and Twitter accounts with the application served up by Facebook. Connecting these two accounts allows your Facebook friends to follow you on Twitter and your tweets to be updated in your Facebook status messages. Interlinking your MySpace and LinkedIn accounts are also useful for this purpose so that you can have traffic sent in all directions.
In addition to interlinking your social networking accounts, you can and should also provide links to and from your website. At the center of all your social networking accounts can be your business website. Creating and posting Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn icons on your business website allows your site visitors to interact with you via social networking websites. In fact, many businesses create their own business Facebook page for the purpose of notifying customers of updates to the company and listening to customers' opinions and feedback.
2. Creating Advertising Campaigns
Another useful way to get exposure and drive traffic for your business is through the use of the social networks' advertising opportunities. Many people and businesses spend money on ad campaigns on search engines like Google or Yahoo, but paying for this type of advertising on a social network takes your ad straight to the interested consumer for your niche. For example, the MySpace banner advertising program contains channels in which you can target your ads. You can choose from automotive, health, men's or women's interest, shopping, sports, technology or even real estate channels.
On the other hand, Facebook as a pay-per-click model advertising program that allows you to target your ads by gender, age group and even interests or location. In addition, you can even choose to use the "Like" button on your advertisements to increase its influence or likelihood it will get noticed. Facebook has a reach of over 400 million individuals, which means that you have a wide selection of your target market to attract.
3. Develop your Relationship
One of the main goals of some businesses in order to garner customer and consumer support is to foster the business-customer relationship. Connecting with your customers on social networking sites allows you to interact with them in ways you never could before, and you need to take full advantage of that fact. Instead of constantly talking about your products and pushing your services, find out what your customer base loves! Start conversations about non-business topics, which engage your customers and promote the social aspect of Facebook, MySpace or Twitter that is supposed to be present.
4. Create your own Network
Yet another interesting way that you can use social networking to your advantage is to create your own network. Creating your own "hub" allows you to provide a unique place where all your fans, supporters, leads and customers can go to find out more information, ask questions or engage in conversation. The way to do this is to sign up with a service that provides the technology and platform to get your own social network created. Examples of these platforms include Ning, KickApps, CrowdVine and PeopleAggregator. You can upload your own business or personal logo, set the rules for your community, start a business blog and even create forums with these types of applications.
Developing the social networking aspect of your business--whether you own an e-commerce store, affiliate website, or any other small business--does take time and dedication to make everything happen successfully. However, realizing the true value of the human connection and business-to-customer relationship allows your efforts to pay off ten-fold with the financial benefits that you can reap.