Undertow – Wading Through The Competitive Waters of Social Media Marketing

I had a great discussion with some colleagues on social networking. The conversation centered around how the blogosphere and social networking sites are quickly changing the way Internet Marketing strategies. They were quick to point out that a study from Forrester Research shows that, with a recession looming, the time is right to advertise on social sites. The comparative cost is low, perhaps a ten-fold difference.

But it begs the question: Does pay-per-click and banner advertising really work on social networking sites?

Another college points out:

"Just because it is inexpensive to advertise on social networks does not mean that the traffic you are buying is good. There is a reason why StumbleUpon lets you buy traffic at $ .05 a click in even the most competitive markets. for providing advertisers with lots of ad impressions, very few clicks and even less conversions. One of the reasons for this is that users of social networks are not on social with a commercial intent. they all mention that they are never looking to buy something when they are on Facebook.

I've been experimenting with social networking and I'm really excited about it. However, using banner ads in social networking sites does little more than help brand recognition. It's a different paradigm altogether and trying to use a search engine marketing strategy in the social media world is like comparing apples to oranges. To really compete, you have to understand what's really happening there.

People are socializing, getting to know each other, networking, and using personal references to help each other solve problems. It starts with idle chit-chat and moves onto advice giving. It's during the advice-giving phase that the opportunity to suggest a product or service really presents itself. If you spring in with the sales pitch too early, they run away or mark you as a spammer and the word will quickly spread, blacklisting you forever (or until you create a new account).

One of the newest strategies in Internet Marketing is "commercial blogging," a method that creates buzz for companies with national or international interests. They use a vast network of entrenched professional bloggers to drop in snippets of sales pitches that appear like natural conversations into blogs and conversations in an attempt to create buzz around a product / service and drive traffic to a website or landing page. This, I believe, is a much better approach than simply posting banners or using Google AdSense in the blogosphere.

I'm going to give this a try, I think, and see how it goes. As the results come in, I'll be sure to write about them.

By the way, since December I've been blogging on my site and posting snippets of the blog on social networking sites. On the day of the post, I can count on well over 200 visits to my site. Google is also referring more natural search traffic. Using social media channels is a quick way to get your blog indexed by search engines – sometimes within a few hours. Search engines love the fresh new content and will reward those who take the time to do it.