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Avoiding the Social Media Vortex; How to Market Online Successfully While Maintaining Time for Your Primary Business Activities
Are you finding yourself being sucked into the Social Media Vortex?
Many people find that adding online social networking to their business activities can affect their efficiency and challenge their time management skills.
Although social media is free for the most part, it is not necessarily true that using it for marketing purposes is going to be free if you consider that it can become a huge time hog.
We all know that business is about relationships. And marketing online increases our exposure and widens our warm market.
But with social media it might seem like you’ve gone down the rabbit hole into a wonderland of new information, experiences, relationships and business opportunities. Entertainment begins to wind its way into your business activities.
You might begin to feel overwhelmed to the point of distraction, following every interesting Tweet and blog you find, until your distraction outweighs your productivity.
As it has been said, the best thing about working for yourself is that you have no one to tell you what to do. But the worst thing about working for yourself is that you have no one to tell you what to do.
Here are some tips and reminders for you if you feel yourself sliding down that slippery slope:
Limit Your Marketing Efforts to Your Target Market
Once you have determined what your what your target market is, join the social networks where you are most likely to connect with these people, and join groups or participate in forum discussions providing value over promotion. Limit your activities to this market.
Keep it Simple
Start with just one to three social networks, so that you begin to build relationships rather than just numbers.
Stay away from the likes of Facebook applications and games, they are time wasters and can be addictive. Attend only the most interesting and applicable event invitations that you receive, for eventually you'll find you get several per week.
And budget your time in Twitter, YouTube, or social bookmarking sites, which can be an attention magnet as well. While it is very tempting to look at a dozen links, videos and pages, the next thing you know an hour or two is lost (although you may find an occasional nugget to use to add value for an upcoming post or video).
Of course it is cordial and builds relationships to respond to every friend request, @ reply or DM Tweet, and email, this quickly becomes burdensome. Learn to prioritize your response messaging according to contacts you have qualified as being in your most targeted market.
It's also tempting to check out every link you are sent, but limit the ones that you follow to those from people you have built a relationship with first. These can not only be distracting but even hazardous!
Use Tools that Increase Productivity
Do use social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon.com, Digg.com, and Del.icio.us to increase your exposure and SEO.Just be careful of surfing the always interesting content there, and if you do make sure it’s something that feeds into your ideas for your own content. Make tagging your blog to these sites easy using clickable buttons (plugins often provide these).
Learn about and use account management application sites such as Socialoomph.com (previously TweetLater.com), which can be used (free or paid for more options) to schedule poats to various social accounts.
Sites like FriendFeed.com and Ping.fm can be used to consolidate your postings, as can SocialPoster.com, to name a few. Twitter can be set to post directly to FriendFeed (I can't get Facebook to do that any longer), but I found that I didn’t want Twitter updates to post to Facebook since due to a much larger number of followers on Twitter, I create more updates on my Twitter account. It seemed it would be a nuisance on the slower paced Facebook to have my Twitter updates post there. The last thing I want to do is annoy my target market audience!
And as a side note, since Socialoomph.com no longer posts directly to Twitter for scheduled updates, you can post to ping.fm and have it’s updates posted to Twitter. There are also software tools that you can run locally on your computer for this purpose, but I’ve not yet tried any.
Remember you are in a relationship business first, which means your primary focus should be on your prospects, your potential customers or business partners. Don’t be a ‘false networker’ or just accumulate friends for the sake of gaining numbers.
Your most important skill when face to face, listening, carries into the realm of social media. Learn about your contacts, and find out what it is that they need. Spend just a few minutes a day perusing the updates of your contacts to learn their current interests and needs. They also may be posting content that you’d like to incorporate into your own, so bookmark sites that you’ll want to return to later.
If your communication skills are lacking in the area of writing, or ad copy, work on that at least to the extent that you can be concise (yes, I do have a bit of work to do here ), and keep your readers interested. Writing is not an impossible skill for someone even if they are currently poor at writing. I’ve seen someone not use correct grammar and spelling and yet write an enjoyable and compelling post! As long as you are enthusiastic, educational and/or entertaining, you’ll have an audience.
Writing a catchy headline is even more important than interesting content in a post. Headlines should grab attention and the post should be interesting enough to hold the reader's attention, but not overly wordy or disjoint. A great little tool is the marketing headline analyzer – it will rate your headlines for readers’ appeal – http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm
Just be yourself and let people get to know, like and trust you you while you get to know them and understand their needs, and if you master your social media marketing schedule, and you can’t go wrong!