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Okay, well, before we jump right in to setting up our accounts on Facebook and Twitter, I want to step back a bit and put the whole concept of social media marketing in context with other kinds of online marketing, especially for those of you who are not quite sure where it fits in the mix. It all started many years ago with the web site, that if your company, or you offer a service for sale, that you would put up a web site, essentially a 24x7 online brochure. So if somebody knows your URL, the address of your web site, they could go there and they could learn all about your web site.
They could sign up for more information or for newsletter or whatever, and that is something that we still do today. There is a web site. That's how you are marketing your company. That involves having to publicize your URL, your web site address, to your prospective customers. So, of course you're putting your URL on your business cards and in your commercials and on your display ads and so on, because otherwise how are they going to find you? Well, they could go to a directory of other companies like yours. If there is an industry association, your company would probably be listed there with a link to your web site. Or you would optimize the contents of your web site so that it had better chances of winding up in the first or second pages of search engine results.
So if I'm a prospective customer and I'm looking for a local place to buy say gourmet cupcakes, I would go to Google or Bing or Yahoo! and type in 'chicago gourmet cupcakes', hit Return, and your web site would come up on that first page or the second page. That's what's called search engine optimization of knowing how the search engines decide what should come first and then optimizing your site for that. That's something that everybody is still working in. And of course, you could force your web site to always be in the first page of search results by paying for an ad placement at the top or on the right-hand side of Google for example.
Those are paid ads that are responding to the keywords that people are entering. You can also advertise your web site, not just advertise it in print, but also advertise it online, so that if there is another web site that your prospective customers are going to and they are not a competitor of yours, you could purchase a banner ad that directs people to go to your web site and that appears on their web site. All sorts of ways to drive traffic to your web site because even though it's their 24x7, nobody is going to find it unless they know the actual address.
Then after everybody started getting comfortable with the idea of web sites, along came the notion of a blog, which is a web site, but it is something that is much easier to keep up to date and it has some unique features about it that helps you market your company as well. It could replace your existing web site; your entire web site could be a blog with pages that allow people to purchase services and so on. Or, more often, it's a supplement. You have a main web site, one of the links as our blog, or it's sort of like a companion web site. The marketing techniques that you need for a regular web site still apply to a blog.
You still need to let people know what the address is of the blog. You still need to list it in search engine directories and optimize everything for search engines. But uniquely, most blogs have what's called an RSS feed that people can subscribe to. So, if I really like your blog, but I don't want to go there every day and see if you have posted something new, I could use an RSS reader-- there is any number of free utilities or services like through Bloglines or Google Reader--that lets me subscribe to your blog. And so I just start up my RSS reader and it shows me a list of all of the blogs that I subscribe to and which ones have new posts.
I can read the posts there or just click directly and jump to the blog. So, in that way, it's a little bit more flexible than a regular web site. In addition, of course, to me the main great thing about a blog is that people can respond. There can be two-way communication in this online marketing venue, in that people can respond via comments to your posts. So when you want to write something new, not only is it easier because it's a blog, you don't have to upload anything to a server. You just log in into a private administrative area, type out a new article, upload a picture to that new article, click Publish, and boom, it's there, but your customers can reply.
They can respond to what you're writing. You talk about a new service. They can reply with information about how they feel about that service and other services they wish you would offer and so on. It can be a little nerve-racking. I've talked with companies who are like don't want to allow their customers to comment and stuff they're posting about their company. But you know, with a measured amount of moderation for the comments, it can be extremely effective. And it definitely makes your customers feel more in touch with you as a company in that they're not just a passive receiver of the information you are putting out there; they can actually interact with the people who work at the company, that there are actual people, not just a faceless brand name or a logo, but there are people who are writing these new posts that they can talk with and establish something of a personal relationship with.
So then we come to social media, right. So first, we had web sites, then blogs, and now social media. So it gradually opens up as we talk. Social media is a place where everybody sort of on equal footing. It's not just a blog author who responds to comments, but basically everybody is talking via comments to each other. There are all sorts of social media venues. There are ones where you share your pictures, like Flickr, or your contacts, like LinkedIn, your videos on YouTube, bookmarks on del.icio.us.
There is Twitter, which is like a micro blog and Facebook, which is like a little neighborhood, all these different kinds of venues. What do all of these have in common? First of all, they all form social communities. Once you set up an account on one of these, you get to feel like it's your second home, and the other people who'll become part of your group in those social communities become like your friends. It adds a human touch to what's essentially everybody sitting alone in front of their computer typing. Many of these online social networks allow a business to establish themselves as a community member just like any other individual, and so when you are there representing your business as just another citizen of the online network, you can also pick up friends or fans of your brand.
You can speak as though you are writing a blog post in that there was an actual human being hiding behind your company name. And as long as you're a good citizen on the social network, that you are not trying to spam anybody or scam or just use it for your own advantage, that you're actually contributing to the network as a regular community member, then you will usually get very good reception from people, and the stature of your company is elevated. And of course, while you are there interacting with other users, sharing video, sharing pictures, whatever, you also have the opportunity to subtly and quietly market your service. to promote upcoming events, to provide customer service to your clients over there.
One of the most powerful features of a business being involved with social media marketing is that your message can get spread virally, what we call Word of Keyboard, because in all of these services, everybody has like a group of friends and when they share something, it's shared with those friends, and those friends can re-share. I will be talking about this in more detail in the next video, but this is what we call viral marketing, and it's extremely powerful. Now, normally, the kind of work that you are doing on these services isn't just for itself. What you're trying to do is establish a funnel.
You are trying to engage people in these social venues and make them want to go to another location, to your web site or to your blog or to walk into your store, for that matter. So, you're using it to talk about products and services and events that people can actually commit to, or could get one step closer to closing in, in another place. Out of all of these services that I've mentioned, and there are many more, a couple years ago I decided to focus on just Facebook and Twitter, because at the time I thought that they seemed to have the most promise, and actually it's true.
I mean like now here it is almost two years later, now those are the two places that you need to be on as a brand. So what that means is that your customers are on Facebook and Twitter. And if there is an opportunity for you to get there as well as your business, you know you want to be where your customers are at. They are the fastest growing of these services; they are very easy to get started with. Essentially, all you need is an email address and online access. They work together synergistically; you can use Twitter to help your Facebook presence, use Facebook to help your Twitter presence, and they're both quite friendly to businesses.
Facebook has this whole concept of Facebook pages, for example that are just for promoting your business. And on Twitter though there is not that kind of bifurcation of personal versus business as there is on Facebook, there are a great number of businesses who are on Twitter and who are able to promote their businesses there as well, and Twitter loves that. And one of the best things is that both of these services are completely free. So, in view of the overwhelming number of your potential customers and existing customers who are already on Facebook and Twitter, the fact that they are free and they are easy to get started with, why aren't you there? Well, you will be.
In the rest of this title, we are going to explore in much more depth how to set up a successful business presence on both Twitter and Facebook.
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