So many people still see the online marketing tools as time waster's or an encroachment on "real work." I submit that social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and the many many many others out there are JUST like any other business tool:
The more you use them, the more effective they can be. And, if you just use these tools sporadically, then you are right, they will not be effective.
Two quick concepts about social networking tools to digest:
1) The more people use a particular tool, the more effective it becomes.
This is one of those challenging things about social networking tools: they are only as good as the people using them. So keep this in mind: Facebook has grown to more than 200 million users. That is a huge and wonderful number, but what does it mean for you? It means that I PROMISE YOU there are people on Facebook you know and who know you. I Promise you there are groups and pages on Facebook that refer to your business. Go check it out!
Here is another number: 1382%
Twitter is quickly becoming an incredibly effective and valuable business tool because of this number. That is the percentage growth in the number of unique visitors to Twitter year over year this February, 2009. That number is now at 7 million plus (and growing). (This information is from a post on Nielsen Wire ) You may ask, "So What?"
This is important to you because of another set of numbers referenced in this article: More than 64% of those unique visitors are 35 to 65 plus. These are professionals that are using Twitter in creative ways for their business.
2) Here's the second concept about social networking. It is a quote to consider:
"One of the conventions of social media is that when you participate, people find out who you are."
This is from David Meerman Scott, who writes a great blog called webinknow.com
Clear, authentic, regular participation in selected social media WILL produce results, you just need to keep your antenna up. This is no different than if you go to a face-to-face networking event and forget to network.
If you participate, people will find out who you are. And remember, participation does NOT mean walking into a room and shouting your sales pitch at the first person who says hello. Participation online is the same as "participation" in a networking event. Calm down and be yourself.
A few ideas:
1) On Facebook : Go become a fan of key pages and groups that relate to your service or product. When you become a fan … become a participator in the conversations that are ongoing. Or, start your own!
2) LinkedIn : Go answer some questions. Do not pose bogus questions. Try to find three people to have an honest, open interaction with.
3) Twitter : download and use either tweetdeck or seesmic, then enter a search term or two you want to follow … a term that relates to your business. You will find people to follow and conversations to be a part of almost immediately.
Give yourself time at the beginning and ending of each day … just a little time … to participate. If you want to, you can turn "time wasting" into a genius business move in no time.