Social media (blogs, podcasts, forums) and social networking sites (Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, etc.) present exciting new possibilities for marketers—but are also a potential minefield that must be navigated carefully to avoid doing more damage than good to your brand.
Think about it this way: you walk into a coffee shop and notice one of your best customers sitting at a table with several people you don't know. You walk over to say "hi" and your customer invites you to join them, and introduces you to the others. They are talking about your industry, and you quickly realize that some of those you've just met are potential future customers. How you handle the next step is crucial: immediately launching into a sales pitch is likely to alienate the group. On the other hand, displaying your industry knowledge and providing insightful input to the conversation will make those at the table want to learn more from you.
Social media and social networks are simply an online version of that table at the coffee shop. They give you the opportunity to start, or join, conversations that can ultimately be beneficial to your business, if managed properly. Here are several of the best news articles from last year on social media strategy and tactics for marketers.
A Marketer’s Guide to Emerging Social Networks by iMedia Connection
After noting that "The future leaders of the (social networking) pack have gotten smart and developed niche sites that slice the pie into tiny, yet dedicated, slivers," Drew Neisser provides reviews of several emerging consumer-oriented social networking communities including Buzznet, as well as many others.
Social Networking Goes Professional by The Wall Street Journal
Journal writer Jessica E. Vascellaro reviews niche social networking sites targeted at doctors (Sermo), wireless business executives (INmobile), financial traders (planned from Reuters) and advertising professionals.
New Social Sites Cater to People of a Certain Age by The New York Times
Noting that Web 2.0 developers and marketers have figured out that older computer users are more "sticky" than teenagers who flit between different social media sites, Times reporter Matt Richtel covers "a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and aging computer users," such as Multiply.
Social Media for SEM Savvy Small Biz Owners by SearchEngineWatch
Columnist Carrie Hill provides four reasons why small businesses should develop a social media promotion strategy, and techniques for driving traffic through social sites.
Why MySpace just won't cut it by iMedia Connection
Author David Bankston lays out a strategy for using social networking sites to build "high value communities that drive innovation and revenue through increased engagement with consumers, employees and even partners."
Previous articles in this series:
Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Contact Mike Bannan: firstname.lastname@example.org