A Primer on Social Media Marketing Components and Tactics

When it comes to social media marketing, there’s one three-letter abbreviation that I can’t stand: SMO (social media optimization). Why don’t I like that term? SMO implies that leveraging social media in your marketing efforts is a cousin of SEO (define) or, even worse, an adjunct that is simply about getting more inbound links to build your search engine prominence.

Marketing your site with social media is much more than optimization. Social media marketing (SMM) is an entire channel that allows marketers to build communities of “friends” and then socialize with those friends in their chosen online environments. It’s about leveraging a whole new platform and environment to galvanize and communicate with your customers (and potential customers) and to let them communicate with you.

Let’s take a look at seven SMM components and tactics you should consider:

Paid Media

This is the easy way to access the hordes of online socialites — buying your way in. Most social sites offer advertising packages that allow you to “hyper-target” specific groups of people and drive traffic to your site or profile. They range from expensive packages to PPC (define) bidding systems. This is what a lot of agencies are doing and proudly explaining their entry into the social realm, but this only scratches the surface and, in effect, is basic media buying.

Profiles

Creating a profile for your company (or a critical staff member/luminary) on MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Bebo, and other platforms is easy, fun, and free. These profiles act as the hub of your programs and should be your first stop.

Don’t put them up and forget about them. They’re an extension of your company and need constant update and care. They’re also the mechanism through which you’ll make “friends” and “fans.” Also consider setting up a Twitter account if you have a customer base that wants quick alerts from you (e.g, tech updates, patches, special sales).

Channels

Got lots of video and pictures? Set up your channels on YouTube, Yahoo, MetaCafe, and Flickr. This gets a ton of content out there and it can be “optimized” (this is where the whole SMO thing came from) to pop in the search engines. You can also weave all this content into your site, social profiles, and the blogosphere.

Look at all the blogs out there. Notice how they grab videos off YouTube and embed them in their posts? It’s unlikely they’ll do that with a video off your site.

Widgets and Gadgets

Got some useful and cool applications on your site that are truly helpful or fun? Make them into widgets, gadgets, and Facebook applications and launch them out on the social Web. If they’re great, people will post them to their profiles, start pages, and desktops.

Chicklets

Chicklets are those little icons on Web sites that let you do things such as subscribe to RSS feeds, bookmark a page (del.icio.us), vote for an article (Digg), or post to your profile or blog (MySpace, Facebook, Blogger). Once you understand what they are and how to use them, they’re addicting! They’re becoming the glue that is cross linking and binding the whole social and editorial Web together into the amazing cohesive package.

The key is to start using them in your blogs and site and encourage people to use them. They can help to propagate your content all over the Web. (To learn what can bring all your chicklets together, check out ShareThis)

Blogging and Blog Outreach

Do you have a blog, and are you communicating with the universe of bloggers who write about your industry? Without going too deep into the world of blog marketing, I have two starting points for you:

First, create a blog and post to it a lot. If you have compliance and red-tape issues, figure out how to get around them or how to produce compliance-friendly material. However, don’t put up a blog if you can’t post a few times a week. Monthly posts don’t cut it!

Second, get to know the universe of blogs that cover your category, make a list, and prioritize it by status, quality, and popularity using things like Alexa and PageRank ratings. Then, don’t just lob press releases at their publishers. Get to know them and treat them like the important vocal people they are.

Crowdsourcing

Let’s say you’re developing a new version of your product. What better way to get ideas to incorporate into your plans then to ask the “crowd” of people who are using or may use your product? As the Wikipedia definition states, you can push out a “call” through all your channels (e-mail, media, social, etc.) to “ask” a large group of people specific questions, and even reward them if you use their answer. Not only will you get great ideas — the “crowd” will appreciate you asking.

Doing all the above and connecting it together is the big challenge. The most amazing part is that a lot of these tactics (paid media and some platform technology licenses aside) are free. They just require a significant time investment.

I left out plenty of other tactics, such as setting up a social platform or site, commenting, forums, and how all this gets measured. Please let me know if you think I’ve overlooked something. Stay tuned. There’s more to come.

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