7 Ways to use the Social Web for SEO

If you have not realized that the main focus of internet marketing is social networking, then you have not been paying attention. To utilize social networking is more than opening a MySpace account or creating a group on Facebook.

Potential customers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages in some form or another. What they really want is to make authentic connections with other people, which is why social networking is such an overwhelmingly popular phenomenon.

To be successful, you have to make those connections instead of simply throwing your message out there to see where it sticks. In fact, if you are using social networking the right way, you might not even feel like you are marketing anymore. It does not require a total rejection of other marketing techniques, but if you are unwilling to follow your gut and build authentic relationships, then it might not be right for you.

Here are 7 ways to building authentic communities on the internet:

1. Give incentives. Once you have a quality community, focus on giving people a reason to stay. Be aware of what works and what does not, what people enjoy and what they do not. Always look out for ways to make your community more friendly, useful, convenient, and rewarding.

2. Recruit. Now that you have figured out where your potential customers are and what they are talking about, invite them to talk with you.

3. Create of map of your customers. Keeping your niche market in mind, find the places on the internet that have the most influence on your potential customers. What are your potential customers and your competitors talking about? Does your company have anything to add to the conversation?

4. Measure involvement. Watch your community carefully over time and pay attention to what resonates most with them.

5. Determine the appropriate platform(s). Which of the following will work best for your goals: social networking sites, e-communities, blogs, or reputation aggregators?

6. Engage your community. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the place where you have to put your most authentic self out there and engage the people you have recruited to be part of your conversation. Be real and be genuine. Make this about a conversation, not about selling something. Mostly importantly, find a balance between content generated by your users and content generated by your enterprise.

7. Promote, promote, promote. Your site may not need much promotion. If that is the case, then consider yourself lucky. But if you find that you need to promote yourself, go seek out places where that can happen. Invite yourself to someone else s place and then invite them back to yours.

The most important part of marketing through social networking is to make sure that your community adds values to users. If users feel like they are getting good advice, good information, and make good connections, then they are more likely to stick around. And it is your job to facilitate a quality community. It may not feel like marketing, but it may be some of the most important marketing you ever do. If you are not sure whether now is the time to make social networking part of your overall marketing strategy, go ahead and take the plunge. Climb the learning curve now, get ahead of your competitors, and build your online communities.

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