Business Strategies Emerging for More Effective Social Media Use

More segmented communications in social networks can extend the reach of organizations in going to a wider audience and building upon their existing base.

The impetus for social media activity is often business goals. Those who use it do so for a variety of business reasons though they may not necessarily know how to more fully leverage the tool or what goals to consider.

Companies may want to get or retain more customers, writers may be seeking more story sources, or advocacy organizations may be trying to get their own story out after what they consider unfavourable press coverage.

Uncertainty of how to expand social networking methods

Some aspects of social media can be unfamiliar or misunderstood, said Thomas Smith, founder and chief technology officer of TSE, a digital consulting agency that develops social, mobile, and web tools for various audiences and to connect communities.

Social media fits into the whole communications media landscape, he told a workshop on social strategies at the National Press Club in Washington. His company works with small and large businesses, the self-employed, advocacy groups, and non-profits.

Traditionally in paid media ads could be purchased whereas earned media has involved public relations or pitching stories to journalists, Sanchez pointed out. But others had to syndicate your message to their subscribers or readers.

Owned media usually has entailed mailing and telephone lists which were part of a one-on-one communication. “But those weren’t scalable really. For every post card you sent out you had to pay … so there was a cost attached,” he said.

Now owned media is on equal footing and can work in conjunction with paid and earned media. Owned media is a website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and ongoing contacts. “It’s anything that you own, you get to control the content that’s in there, but you have your own people that you’re syndicating the message to.”

However, these users of social media have to go a step beyond and persuade the people they are reaching to act on their message, Sanchez stressed.

Posting content is what most people do on social or owned media, which can include videos posted on YouTube that are sent to Facebook followers as well. Other activities can be responding to something read on social media or going to Google’s key word tool and seeing what people are searching for and responding to, he added.

New tools for monitoring trends and sharing material

Besides Google Analytics, other tools for monitoring trends are Hootsuite and Topsy to see what’s being discussed online.

On Twitter too, someone can set up lists or filters or other tools to monitor what conversations are taking place.

More recently Pinterest has emerged as a content sharing service that enables members to share images, videos, or specific interests on their pinboard.

Another social platform called change.org can be used to create petitions. Change.org is a for-profit company that will promote signed petitions and share them on social media.

Key to this whole process is becoming increasingly engaged on a continual basis. Social media users tend to be interested in what they already are involved in.

Social Driver advises clients on how to bring people together to whom they already are connected. A message can be taken beyond those you’re connected with by creating content and getting people already on your network to share that content.

Many political candidates use social media to try and reach a larger audience. In addition, news stories can be broadcast on Twitter. The Washington Post, for example, has an active Twitter account for just that purpose.

Social media activity within organizations includes creating content, blogging, writing an article, making a video, or sending out a press release.

Changing existing social media strategies

Adam Gerber, a project manager at Social Driver who also spoke at the Press Club program, referenced the company’s ongoing work with Change the Equation. It is a non-profit organization convened by the Obama administration to bring together business leaders from major U.S. technological corporations seeking women and minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields.

Change the Equation previously used Twitter to expand its audience through republishing a blog. “But that strategy wasn’t really reflecting the needs of the organization,” Gerber said.

In trying to effectively reach a D.C. audience of policy leaders, journalists, think tanks, and elected officials, Twitter provides the chance to follow those people you want to, and from that create a target list of who are among the most influential individuals, he emphasized.

On Twitter, someone can write a tweet that is simply a message going out to their followers. But at the same time they can mention somebody else in a tweet and notify that person, and also send a direct private message to that individual.

The sub-audience is the real target audience, Gerber added. With a mass unconnected audience who are already online, social network users can build relationships with industry leaders who might become a future resource, be quoted in news stories, or sought out for authoritative opinions.

Organizations can highlight activities for corporate partners, share news and blog posts, follow thought leaders, re-tweet popular or compelling posts, and monitor trends and changes.

“If you take everybody who’s interested in your topic,” you take that universe of people, map them out, and find the inner circle which may care more about a particular organization and raising funds than a topic, Sanchez said.

Don’t restrict discussions to only advocacy organizations

The same method can be employed to reach others may not be familiar with or even especially interested in a certain organization but care more about an issue or subject area.

Groups can segment their communications through adding people to their social network and nurturing those whom they already have through inviting them to events or friending them on Facebook, and thereby drawing a closer link to the message at hand.

As one method, Eventbrite can be used as a tool for sharing registered events for those who may also be interested. This requires having e-mail addresses.

Companies can build lists on Twitter that work similarly to e-mail. But to get e-mail addresses, Sanchez advised, don’t buy large lists because that’s outside of having permission to use someone’s e-mail address for marketing, and contrary to new avenues social networking is trying to pursue.

Differences Between a Blog and a Website

Confusion persists between understanding functions of a blog and web site. Online marketers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these two tools.

More and more people are seeking to make money online, especially in today’s global financial crisis with thousands of people losing their jobs. It is possible to make money online, but where does one start?

For beginners, the fundamental differences between websites and blogs and which tools to use is a good starting point. Let Mike Slaney of Kent SEO company Smoking Chili Media explain more.

What is a Blog?

Blogs were previously known as web logs and now dominate the Internet. A blog’s main function is as the name suggests a ‘log’ or diary. Blogs are less formal and more personal than websites. The blogger can provide personal and intimate details about his or her subject and so blogs can be a starting point in re-directing a potential customer to a website for an actual sales transaction.

These days, blogs and websites work hand-in-hand.

  • Blogs are easy to set up and a less expensive way of advertising to an online community.
  • Using the word blog instead of website attracts a higher click through rate when sending out email newsletters because the word blog is more trustworthy. In general, it is not perceived as a sales tool.
  • There are a lot of blog providers where one can register and make a personal blog without having to have a server and configure blog software.
  • People find individual posts by search engines and not usually from a site.
  • Tone of persuasion is friendly.

How to Make Money Online with a Blog

Blogs are becoming increasingly important to any web-based entrepreneur in making money online because it is where all the action is. Traffic is generated in large quantities at blogs and then re-directed to web sites.

The way to make money online with a blog is simply writing about a subject of interest or expertise and then monetizing the site in a way that can earn money online, such as applying for Google Adsense or placing banner ads on the site.

What is a Website?

A website is a collection of related web pages, images and/or videos that have a common domain name or IP address.

  • A website is hosted on at least one webserver, accessible via the Internet or a private LAN (local area network). It is the official address and location of a web-based business, just the place one would expect to find e-commerce tools and landing pages where customers can make a purchase online.
  • Some websites require a subscription to access some or all of their content. Examples of subscription sites may include many business sites, academic journal sites or sites that provide real-time stock market information.
  • A web site can be difficult to build from scratch but there are many websites templates that are already freely available.
  • A website can be inclusive of a blog and can include online shops, magazines, companies, universities, services etc. but usually has a clear category structure.
  • People find posts posts and information on the website easily due to clear site links hierarchy.

Which is Best – a Blog, a Website or Both?

This depends on a person’s individual needs. One needs to think about whether the site will be more of a portfolio site or a blog site and which will be used most, the blog to attract people or is the site a business site with a blog? What is the purpose of the blog or website? Once a decision has been made as to what the web presence will accomplish, it will be easier to decide whether it should be a blog, a website or both

The benefit of an all-in-one blog/website is that there is have one home, one domain to drive traffic to. The downside is that it can take months of work, marketing and promoting to get sufficient traffic to the site.

In conclusion neither can really totally replace the other and both blogs and web sites have their individual very important key roles to play in the marketing success of any online money-making enterprise.