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Harnessing Social Networks to Boost Sales - Part I

Social-NetworkingTill a few years ago, marketing meant spending a deluge of money on a top notch advertising campaign, something which only big companies could afford. Then came the internet that changed everything with the concept of online marketing. Again, big companies with fat coffers and attractive websites scored the goal, which small entrepreneurs could hardly afford. However, a new revolution surfaced in the recent years with the arrival of social networking. Money was no longer the major concern as anybody and everybody could enjoy the benefits of social networking. Connecting with people and getting your message across was never so easy. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc provide you with instant connectivity and the power to reach out to thousands of people in no time at all.

Unlike the monologues of traditional advertising campaigns where businesses used to bombard customers with their message, social networking paves the path of multiple conversations. You can use the same to boost your sales as these platforms help in:

Communicating with your prospective and existing buyers: You can create a direct channel to connect with your present customers’ base and woo the prospective ones. Let them know about special deals, discount offers, end-of-season sales etc before others get to know about the same. Such an act will build trust and help you to forge a strong business relationship with your clients, resulting in augmented sales figures.

Listening to your customers: Encourage your customers to speak and act on what they have to share. If they praise some of your offerings, show a proactive approach by asking their suggestions for bettering the same. On the other hand, if they criticize a specific product or service, ask them how the same has failed to match their expectations so that you can set things right. Remember – participation is the key to effective social networking campaigns. So, make people feel important by seeking their opinion and act on their feedback to prove that you value their judgmental power.

Encouraging people to publicize your offerings: Word-of-the-mouth publicity helps a lot in getting the word out about your offerings. It adds to the credibility factor too as common people and not someone associated with the business is praising the products or services. So, to increase your sales, you should encourage your fan base or people in your contact list to spread the word. You may even offer some freebies or special deals for people who can successfully promote your offerings on the web. You can take a cue from Coca-Cola’s Facebook fan page that has taken the unorthodox step of displaying content generated by their users, while many other brands shy from doing the same.

If you are now wondering how you can get started with your social networking campaign, these steps can help:

  • Create an account for yourself as an individual on some social networking sites
  • You may create another profile for your business
  • Add people to your friend list
  • Expand your friend list. Add friends of friends, people from your industry or people interested in the kind of products or services you deal with.
  • Make your business page informative and interesting
  • Create a group about your business. Invite people to join the group. The more the members, the better will be your reach. Options like Become a Fan in Facebook enables a user to express his/her liking for your product or service. It creates a fan base, which in turn can act as your potential customer base. What’s more, new users also get drawn in through these existing fans.
  • Include blogs in your group. Fill it with all the latest updates and activities regarding your business. Add a personal touch so that your viewers feel more at home. Ask for reviews of your products or services from existing customers. This way, you can get assess to the mood of people, and have an insight into what works well and what doesn’t. Avoid sending bulk emails as it would lead to spamming.

As in any business marketing, you need to concentrate on a few basic things in your social networking campaign to make your business flourish:

Identify the target market: Conduct a thorough research into your business area and finalize on your target area. Identify your potential customers and try to reach them instead of taking your products and services to everyone.

Keep track of the changes in the market: You must be aware of the present market trends. You need to have knowledge about everything that may affect your business. A creative mind and smart innovation will give you the edge over your competitors.

Act on time: It’s a cat and mouse game. The faster you reach out to the people, the better it is for your business.

Have an open mind: Prospective and existing customers can often help you see something that you have either ignored or missed. So, it pays to have an open mind, listen to the people and act upon their feedback or suggestions. Remember – the willingness and agility to learn and interact effectively with people is the essence of social networking.

Though any one can create a social networking page, you need to identify the ones that can offer maximum leverage to your business. If you want to know more, stay glued to this place.

Harnessing Social Networks to Boost Sales - Part II Continues here.

Using Social Bookmarking for Internet Marketing

social-bookmarkingSocial bookmarking is nothing but an online reference of your favorite websites, which can be easily created and accessed from any place. Given the ease with which you can access your favorite websites using this method, it is hardly surprising that there are several social bookmarking websites available. Digg and Del.icio.us are currently the most popular social bookmarking sites.

Given the fact that social bookmarking websites are constantly reinventing themselves, this mode is becoming extremely popular with SEO consultants as well as individual users. One of the primary reasons for the popularity of social bookmarking among SEO consultants is the marked increase in traffic, which is easily visible and verifiable. Following are some of the main reasons why you should make social bookmarking a significant part of your SEO campaign.

Reaching out to a Wider Audience: SEO consultants are always looking for tools that will ensure that their websites reach out to the target audience. Optimization helps in ensuring that your website is noticed and made visible by the search engine robots. However, this does not mean that your target audience will actually visit your website. Social bookmarking is an excellent way to reach out to the millions of people who will actually benefit from your website. In other words, when you publish your website and its content in these social bookmarking websites, you are actually providing access to those millions who are accessing such social bookmarking websites. In other words, you are reaching out to a wider audience, which will definitely improve your inbound traffic.

Creating inbound links: Link building is an age old concept for search engine optimization. It is also a well known fact that if you create inbound links from high quality websites, your rankings will automatically increase. Social bookmarking websites are highly ranked, which means that any link coming from such sites will be considered as a quality link. This becomes all the more important if you can create inbound links from categories that are relevant to your area of business. Creating such links is extremely easy and simple, when done through social bookmarking sites. This automatically increases inbound traffic, which is the ultimate aim of SEO.

Sharing of Content: Social bookmarking websites allow for easy sharing of content between users, irrespective of whether they are individuals or consultants etc. In other words, if you post content related to your sphere of business on any social bookmarking site, the content can be easily accessed and shared by others belonging to that particular sphere of business or even by other users who are just curious to know more. In simple terms, this means that you can actually access a huge audience through content sharing, which would have otherwise been really difficult. Moreover, given that social bookmarking websites are creating newer ways to include specific content under specific categories, it becomes easier to access the right kind of audience required for your area of business, making it truly beneficial.

Social bookmarking websites can be used as a two way forum for information travel. In other words, while your information is shared with others, you can also access information about others. This leads to better business processes all around, which ultimately increases profits. Hence, if you are looking for creating awareness, want to garner opinion or just need some pieces of information, social bookmarking websites are your best bet.

Building Quality Backlinks for Your Site

inbound-linksQuality backlinks perform a crucial role in optimizing search engines and has a great effect on the volume of traffic you generate for your site. Without backlinks pointing at your site, it often becomes difficult to generate daily traffic. Backlinks provide the ability to drive new traffic to your site every day uninterruptedly.

A website is worthless if no one knows about it. It’s like setting up the world’s largest Wal-Mart at an obscure place and not informing anybody. You are unlikely to get much business doing it this way. But if you have backlinks scattered all across the web, it will spread the word about your site. Now, when somebody runs across the backlinks on another website, he or she might click the link and thus be routed to your website.

There are a number of factors that determine your position on a search engine. The higher your rank in search engines, the more people will visit your website. Thus, backlinks are often one of the most important things that search engines look for while rating your site.

The first step towards building quality backlinks is searching for places from where you can obtain these backlinks. A worthy assistant in such a process is a backlink builder. As you enter your choice of keywords, the builder tool generates a list of websites in which you may post a message or an article or merely the backlink of your site. Once you have a list of probable backlink partners, you need to visit each site and place your content comprising the backlinks to your website.

You may wonder why websites that are listed by a backlink builder would provide you with backlinks without any money. Simple. They require content in their sites. When you submit an article or place links to your website, you never get paid. You give them something that they require for free - content. In return, they too give you what you need the most - quality backlinks. It’s a free barter. Remember, trade links only with sites that have page ranks similar to yours or higher. This would stand out in the search engine and enhance your rank. You should also review the backlinks arriving at your site periodically to ensure their authenticity and check the same for broken links.

More the backlinks, better the page. However, in practice, it is rarely so. Obviously, you can not always depend upon the fact that if your content is good, people would link to you. It’s true that if your content is relevant, you might get many quality backlinks, including sites comprising of topics similar to yours. Needless to say, these form the most worthy backlinks, especially if your keywords are contained in your anchor text.

To conclude, there are other effective ways to get backlinks, including chain emails, forum postings or distributing newsletters across the internet. Blogs are also a good way to garner quality backlinks. If the blog is respected, the backlink becomes more valuable. More serious site builders prefer to get listed in search directories. In this method, you are noticed by search engines and probable visitors, besides getting quality backlinks for free.

So, select any one method or a combination of those mentioned above to get quality backlinks for your site or blog.

Using Forums to Increase Traffic to Your Website

forum1More and more people these days are looking for new and innovative ways to drive traffic to their websites. If you too are looking to do the same, try forum participation to lure people into visiting your site.

To begin with, you will need to find out some relevant forums that promote or talk about products or services that you deal with. It always pays to have a focus on the type of traffic that you want to attract. Since many web surfers surf casually, attracting them won’t serve your purpose as such people are likely to leave the site in a hurry. What’s more, since these casual surfers are usually not performing an intentional search to look for a product or solve a problem, they are unlikely to dig deeper into your site even after they have landed there. So, it pays to take time and make a list of potential forums that can give you targeted traffic.

While short listing forums, consider the membership size and the level of active member participation. Though people often tend to go for bigger forums, there are some smaller forums that are more intimate and tight knit. So, decide for yourself if you want to be a no one in a big group or a big fish in a little pond. Another point to note is how active other members are in responding to the queries or posts by members of the community. If you find many forum posts with high viewer ship but few responses, this may be the sign of a closed clickish forum. However, it could also mean that more active members are required, a need that you can fill.

Once you have got your list, create accounts in these forums and start posting interesting posts or comments on the existing threads. Most forums need you to have a minimum number of posts or activity before you can start your own thread. So, be patient and work carefully in the initial phases as spamming or commenting without adding anything meaningful to the discussion may get you into trouble. This initial phase is important to build your credibility and get noticed by the other forum participants. If you can do this right, you will soon have a following on such forums who will take note overtime you write or post comments. What’s more, these people are likely to use the website link in your signature to check out your site and may even become your clients.

By getting backlinks from quality and relevant forums, you can increase your link credibility, which in turn will help you to have high search engine rankings. Some forums even have experts as participants where you can get your queries, if any, answered and know about some time-tested tips and ticks.

In brief, forum participation can not only give you some useful insight into your own niche but even help you get traffic and a better search engine ranking for your website. So, join the league and start using this tool to take your business to newer heights.