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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.

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.

blog2Whether you blog just as a hobby or have a company blog where you talk about things to promote your products or services, you will surely want to get more and more web surfers reading what you have to share. If your blog is still lying in the oblivion and has been unable to attract commendable web traffic, it’s time you take a serious look at your write-ups and make them attractive and worthy of being noted. If you are not sure how to go about this, here are top 5 blog writing tips that can offer help:

Opening punch: Just like morning shows the day, your opening lines will decide if someone will read till the end or skip to some other web page. Pack some punch, teaser or interesting facts in your opening lines so that the reader is encouraged to continue reading your post. Make your opening lines powerful and your readers will soon become hooked onto your content.

Follow the KISS principle: Whatever be your blog post topic, keep it short and simple (KISS). Remember – no one wants to read complex things or long sentences. Since most web surfers have a poor attention span, you need to hook them in the first few seconds after they start reading your post. So, use simple language and small, compact sentences that can get your message through to the reader easily without sounding too preachy or too complex to understand.

Use energetic and positive words: Your post should show how passionate you are about the subject that you are writing about. Unless your readers feel the energy, they are unlikely to stay or return to check you newer posts. You should also make a conscious effort to use positive words and steer clear of the negative ones. For example, if you want to talk about some cheap products or services, instead of using the word “inexpensive”, try using “economical” that has a far more positive vibe about it.

Use bold keywords, sub-headings or bullets: Many blog readers these days try to skim the summary at a quick glance and never bother to read the whole post. To help such readers become a regular visitor of your blog, you can use relevant keywords in bold or use sub headings and bullets with important words or phrases in italics or bold so that anyone can get a brief idea of what the post is all about even without reading the whole write-up.

Be adventurous: Despite the tips as mentioned above, don’t be afraid of breaking the rules and trying your own innovative ideas. Who knows that you may come up with the next best blogging tip that other bloggers will lap up in no time.

If done the right way, blogging can act as a cost-effective way of making your online presence felt and help you reap riches by marketing your offerings effectively on the World Wide Web. In case you haven’t yet realized the true potential of blogging, use these 5 top blogging tips to get started today.

PinterestPinterest is gaining steady popularity as users begin to use it to organize and share images online. You can create attractive virtual pin boards with DIY art and craft tips, dream vacation locales and must-read blogs as well and browse through the site to add to your own boards as well. This invite-only site is slowly turning into a great tool for businesses considering the growing audience that makes it a great site for promotions as well.

Pinterest and Your Business
Branding in the SERPs remains an important aspect of most online marketing programs and one of the main advantages of Pinterest is that it allows your profile to show up as www.pinterest.com/yourbrand in search results. Users sharing support for the product images you have pinned are sure to “Pin”,“Repin,” and “Like” providing for brand exposure. It even aids in discovery of newer products and services which users would not even know existed previously. And of course you gain link backs to your image source or url with every “Pin” and “Repin”.

Pinterest and Local Business
As with most social media platforms you can connect with your Facebook and Twitter accounts when you set up a Pinterest profile. Name a board after your product or service and include interesting pictures of the product, service or even the location you are at. View boards of Pinterest users in your area and other boards which are of interest to you and “Pin” interesting pictures to your board. Good keyword text, a descriptive about you, use of hashtags and categories to tag your content and attractive boards are the best means to use your Pinterest board. While you try to design your infographic related to your business, don’t make it seem like you are only interested in promoting your brand. Show an active interest in boards related to your brand and area.

You can choose from many unique categories including Travel, Weddings & Events, Food & Drink to Technology, Science & Nature among others to “Pin” or “Like” and “Repin”. Keep in mind that you use permalinks only when you pin, always pin from the original source and also give credit to the pin with a description about it. If you are keen on cross-promotion, Pinterest is again a great tool to promote your pins on Facebook and Twitter. For anyone who has been using Flickr to promote images, you can use the same image links to further optimize the Flickr set so you rank better in the search engine results.

Build a Strong Pinterest Presence
The site frowns on brands which choose to have boards for self-promotion alone. It is advisable to have a few boards in a range of topics when compared to a single board centered around your brand or a single topic. Also, it helps t “Repin” content from the site itself as it is bound to increase your followers. Try to make your profile an excellent resource for users before you begin promoting your products and services.