Don’t Sell, Help Them Buy

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Every single social media tool can be helpful to your prospective buyers. Social media is not something you jump into when you need a quick boost in sales. It is just like traditional offline networking. Occasionally you make a profitable connection quickly, but lasting value is gained by a long-term commitment and multiple intersecting relationships.

How to use social media as marketing tools in more efficient ways?
Whether it's communicating across the cubicle or breaking down the classroom walls, new media literacy is an important subject during this (and future) generations.  Here are some of the tools that can be helpful to your company:

A blog, short for web-log, is a simple website format that allows anyone with essential Internet skills to publish content to a website. Some bloggers use the tool to share their daily experiences with their family and the world. Some of my friends write about a particular topic of interest like Shirazi use to blog on Education and travel, Bilal Meher speak on Real Estate, Fahad has an interest in Politics, Ashraf Chaudhry blog on Career Counseling, Tayyab Ilyas shares News Updates, Bingkee write about variety of topics in General, and Shazieh Gorji only talk about Clay. Many companies use the blog to maintain a "news and events" section to the website. They have a familiar reverse-chronological format that makes them simple to follow.

So why are blog considered part of the social technology space?
Because blogger are the early enablers of user generated content. They give everyone who wants to speak, an opportunity to share their voice. Blogs are VERY sharing friendly and easy to update.

[a] Almost all blogs publish a file called a "feed" in addition to the content you see on the website. This "feed" allows readers who are interested to subscribe to future updates of the blog - sometimes via email and sometimes using a lesser know tool called an RSS reader [RSS = Really Simple Syndication]. This syndication ability also allows the reuse of a blog's content in ways too numerous to list.

[b] Most all blogs will have a simple functionality enabled that allows visitors to post content they find valuable to other social technology services like Facebook or Digg, further increasing its exposure.
Blog visitors can also comment on the content. Typically each blog entry will have a form that allows a visitor to share their own point of view on the author's topic. it's not uncommon to see hundreds of comments after a post. The commenting becomes a conversation in itself.

Blog Tools:
Ideally a business's blog is contained within its own website, but there are other options that allow those interested to blog for free, with the integration costs.

1. Wordpress : The most popular platform - offered in both a format to be hosted on your website, or hosted on their site.

2. Blogger : Operated by Google, a free platform similar to the hosted Wordpress version above.

3. Movable Type : Offered in both hosted and integrated versions .

NOTE: Post genuine, rich, authentic, totally yours, keywords oriented articles at your blog.

Social media tools are about being social. Photos of employees and events can help communicate the personality of your organization to your consumers. When people feel connected, there's a better chance they'll become your evangelist.

Uploading photos on Flickr could help your prospects and clients; learn about your company and its team. Help your prospect by sharing your still-contents at Flicker, like Product photos, staff photos, customer event photos, company party photos. If you choose to allow it, Flickr enable viewers of your photos to post comments about them. Flickr also integrates very nicely with Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, and Blogger etc.

Uploading videos to YouTube, (even if it's just duplicated content from your website) can help them learn about your company culture or personality. Help your buyers to watch and listen about your company, products, and services by posting video contents at YouTube. For instance: post videos of your employees interview, guest speaker's sessions, organization's introductory-promos, seminars, workshops, etc. YouTube users can also subscribe to your "channel" so they're notified when you upload new videos. If you choose to allow it, YouTube enables viewers of your videos to post comments about them. What better place for a customer endorsement than right below a video of the product? "What better place for a customer endorsement than right below a video of the product?"

I got a video lecture by Barry Feig on "Hot Button Marketing-for sales people" at LinkedIn, which played a key roll in my current research.

Social Bookmarking:
Use social bookmarkging services that help users to "bookmark" or "favorite" content. Below are the few examples of social bookmarking services?

1. Delicious: (Now owned by Yahoo), one of the more pure examples of social bookmarking, and still quite popular.

2. Digg: Most recognized for the catchy buttons you may have seen on blogs and websites that invite you to "Digg This."

3. StumbleUpon: A bookmarking service that focuses a lot on ratings and reviews of the bookmarked pages. It also offers its users a browser toolbar that, with a single click, will randomly send them to a new website that the service believes the user will enjoy.

Shouting at social network can help them notify your latest offers and announcements.

A tweet [a Twitter post] can help and handle customer service requests, announce sales, share relevant product information, share industry or product related news, and anything else helpful to its followers. It is pretty informal, and the closest thing to real-time conversation currently available on the Internet. If organizations want to know what's being said about them right now, they should go to Twitter and find out.
It's perfectly acceptable, actually expected, to follow those you've never met using Twitter.

"Facebook is where you follow people you used to know. Twitter is where you follow people you want to know" - [Anonymous Smart Person]

Social Networks:
The CEO of LinkedIn described LinkedIn as the office, Facebook as the bar, and Twitter as happy hour. I'll add to that and describe MySpace as high school.

Social networks enable you to maintain connections with the people you chose. Every social network service varies a bit in its format, but the purpose of all of them is to keep you connected by sharing updates made by your connections. Updates for business connections, like those on LinkedIn could be "Barry is getting ready for my newest workshop -- very meaningful for companies now --" or something more unimportant like those on Facebook - "Fariha Rashed is inviting donation for SWAT Relief Funds! ."

All social technologies are about connecting people. Other social technologies, like social bookmarking, are built around the content. Social network platforms are focused on the connection first, and the content second.

The most popular social networks LinkedIn, Facebook, & MySpace - allow their connected users to share lots of content. Photos, videos, news articles, opinions, current status messages, blogs, music, events, and much more can be shared with your network through these platforms.

Each network enables users to create groups based on any particular interest. These groups can act as a content sharing forum on their own, but also an opportunity for users to meet new people online, not just converse with their offline social circle.

What does all of this have to do with business?
In an effort to focus on the most relevant information, the examples will deal mostly with Facebook. Not because it's the only opportunity in social networking, but because it's the biggest for most consumer focused businesses. If you could only choose one network to be a part of, 90% of the time the right choice is Facebook.

Facebook says it has over 170,000,000 registered [US only] users and of those, 47,000,000 U.S. users login EVERY DAY. Facebook says it's adding about 450,000 new users every day. Another statistic estimates that the average Facebook user spends 40 minutes on the site per visit. Please see detailed Facebook Statistics here

Facebook is a party with 47,000,000 U.S. users there everyday. What business can afford NOT to be at that party?

This is where a huge percentage of conversation is happening. This is where more and more people are spending their time online. They chat with friends, they get recommendations for interesting things, and they get invitations to parties.

Not a ton of business happens on Facebook, just like you're probably not going to close a sale at a bar where people are there to socialize. It's about being accessible - making yourself easy to find, making it easy for your mavens to endorse you. A Facebook presence is relatively easy to establish, and when setup properly, it can collect all of your other social technology activities to act as an online hub of your activity, just as it does for individual users.

Social Networks Examples:

1. Facebook: The fastest growing network in the U.S. and the most likely to be a fit for consumer targeted product marketing.

2. LinkedIn : A social networking tool for business connections. This is an excellent tool for recruiters and I believe it has some untapped potential for business-to-business marketing.

3. MySpace : Little business occurs here, but it's a viable place for musicians and other popular culture products like sodas, food, and movies.

Bottom Line:
SO! If you love your information, post it at your blog, set it free. Enable all possible methods of sharing your information. Let visitors subscribe to your blog via email, RSS, or Twitter. Have "share this" and "post to Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, dig, mix, Myspace, Technorati, Friendfeed, StumbleUpon, delicious, options all over your site.

The Author of this post is available for a lecture on the subject below posts.
-How To Monetize Google
-Employing Social Media as Marketing Tool
-Social Media and Computational Marketing

Looking forward to your valuable comments.

Muhammad Yaqoob is a Corporate Blogger and Social Media Expert. For more information please visit

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