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No matter what you sell on the internet today – whether it is eBooks, products you have to mail out or services that you provide yourself – you need to find customers.
That much is certain, but the more creative you are at finding those customers (especially when those methods don’t involve spending any money) the more successful you are likely to be.
And that’s why it is in your best interests to become familiar with social networking sites. Not to tell people all about what you do in your spare time, or to share the intimate details of your life with, but to use as a method to gain more business.
Yes, there are thousands of customers to be found on these sites. Despite the fact that they are intended for social purposes, they can be used for business purposes too. You just need to know how to do it.
And there is no doubt that the people who are doing it already are reaping the rewards. There are such a high proportion of internet users who are members of at least one social networking site that you are ignoring a huge number of potential customers if you don’t at least try it. Facebook alone has over a hundred million users as of the middle of 2008, so you can see just how big an opportunity this is.
But I can guarantee that once you HAVE tried marketing to your audience in this way, you won’t want to stop.
TO START WITH –– DO YOUR DO YOUR HOMEWORK
This is vital if you are going to get some good results. Some social networking sites are quite lenient when it comes to members using them for business purposes. Others are completely against it.
You need to know exactly where you stand with each one before you get started, because if you take a laid back approach with a site that doesn’t like it, you won’t get anywhere.
This part is easy though. All you need to do is read the terms and conditions of each site that you are interested in, to see how promotional you are allowed to be. The more you know up front, the better you will be able to integrate yourself into each website.
You should also take a look round and see what other people have done. But be careful with this approach because you may well come across people who have broken the rules and haven’t been discovered yet. And you certainly don’t want to join them, do you?
DON’T OVERDO IT
Before we get into how to make the most of social networking for business purposes, we should cover one important point.
There are a lot of social networking sites online today, and it can be tempting to join them all. But this can actually harm your chances of marketing successfully through them.
It works far better to join just two or three social networking sites rather than as many as you can. Just think about the amount of free time you have available each week. If you focus your efforts on a few sites rather than a lot, you’ll get far better results.
Why? Simply because the people who start to follow you on the sites you do use will expect you to be reasonably active on there. And if you are trying to keep up with half a dozen or more sites, you will naturally be spreading yourself a lot thinner.
And that means the effect will be diluted as well. So make sure you choose the best networks with the most people – and stick with them. And here we’re talking about the networks that have millions of followers. You won’t be aiming to connect with all of them, but you’ll soon find that you have a bigger niche audience to aim at – which is good news when it comes to making money.
Incidentally when you are thinking about the sites that you should be joining, think about the type and age group of people who are using each site. You may need to do a bit of research here but it will be worth it. One site may have a huge audience comprised of college graduates, while another may feature a lot more young professionals. And if you are aiming at young professionals, then that first site – no matter how many users it has – won’t be the ideal one for you to join.
THREE POPULAR SOCIAL NNETWORKING SITES YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY THINK INK ABOUT JOINING
Please note that these are my personal favorites. They are well worth considering for different reasons, which I shall reveal as we take a quick look at each one. So let’s take the guided tour, shall we?
It’s big, it’s popular and most people have heard of it. And those are three good reasons why you should get involved with it too.
They don’t like affiliate links, so if you’re planning to promote other people’s products and you don’t have a site of your own, you’ll benefit from getting one. But that aside, you’ll get a comprehensive profile page that will help you tell people what you’re all about, and you can list your interests too. If you make sure these are related to the focus of your business, you’ll draw even more interest.
Oh and did I mention you can have your own blog on MySpace as well? People can access this from your profile page, and you can end up with quite a few fans simply by writing a great blog on a regular basis.