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Getting a grip on social media marketing

As we delve deeper into social media, we find ourselves explaining to our clients why they need to get involved in social media marketing. A lot of our clients operate on a regional basis so they don’t think of online marketing as their bread and butter.

And social media is not an easy thing to explain, especially if you’re talking at a granular level about all the details of each site and how they work together, “and you can register here and it posts there and Google finds you here, Robert Scoble, TechCrunch, $500 million, blah, blah, blah.” You can just see their faces melting into blank, disinterested stares while they think, “That Yellow Pages ad is working just fine” or “this sounds like a bunch of weird stalker stuff.”

So here’s two really basic benefits of getting into Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, ShareThis, Digg, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc. that any business owner or manager will value:

1. Talk to your customers.

Talk directly to people who care about what you have to say. They also talk back to you about what they think! When you’re on Twitter, you’re both a resource and a marketing researcher. You can think of it as being able to call any of your customers and leave a ten second phone message but they actually want to hear from you and they’ll call back and do the same.

2. Build your brand.

Social media is an enormous tool, ultimately more powerful and cost-effective than billboards, radio and t.v. commercials – as long as your company isn’t buying superbowl ads. You can shape how people feel about your company through a few text messages. Are you useful? Funny? Green? Boring? Thrifty? It’s your image. Shape it.

The most important thing we’ve come to understand about social media networking is that it’s a conversation. You have to give something. You have to provide good content to get people’s attention.

Here’s a great slide show to show you what we mean. You have to be engaged to get the most out of it. You have to listen to what people are saying. And take some time to respond. Take some time to blog. (We’re working on it.) Provide useful information, not just sales sheets and links to your site.