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Social networking sites offer businesses and individuals both networking and marketing opportunities, all at no cost. However, if you don’t know how to make your social networking site work for you, you might end up losing business instead of gaining it! Here’s how to put your best foot forward in the cyber world:

Though there are many social media websites out there, it is important to select just two or three to focus on that will help you in achieving your business development goals.  These goals might include; branding, marketing, sales, or even branding for new talent in your organization.  Marketing 101 would suggest that you have a clear plan and definition of your objectives, strategies and tactics in order to head in the right direction. 

Once you’ve selected the best two or three sites, focus on the core competencies of each.  For example, if the media is LinkedIn, consider the media’s various applications for your business.  Whether you are looking to create inside connections, find new marketing talent or build your brand, it is important to become familiar with the site and understand its full potential.   If you are interested in branding yourself as an expert in your field, check out the various LinkedIn groups that surround your industry. 

Becoming an industry leader and a well known entity online is one of the newest and fastest ways to become famous. Eagerly answer questions and begin discussions that will allow people to see your expertise.  A close friend of mine used this strategy on Twitter and became known as a foremost expert in his field.  Less than one year after building his own personal brand, he was aggressively sought after for his expertise and experience in his field.

Another idea that has been of great help to me and my clients has been the use of social media shortcut sites like Tweetdeck and Ping.fm.  These sites help you save time when using social media by allowing you to send out messages simultaneously from one site.  Ping.fm actually includes Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all in one, which is really useful for heavy users to ping all three media’s in one shot.  One benefit of Tweetdeck is that it lays out all of your activity into workable columns.  You can easily view and manipulate the messages you’ve sent, mentions you’ve had, searches you’re conducting and much more. 

When using Twitter, remember that one of the most effective ways to find new clients or opportunities is to know how to effectively use the search feature.  If you are selling a product and want to know if other people are Tweeting about it or to find out what your competition is up to, this is the feature for you.   Simply type in the phrase or key words that someone might use when searching for your business and expertise, and then keep track of the search.  For example, if you are selling a CRM product called ACT, just type in the key words, “ACT OR ACT CRM.” You can also type in a phrase that relates to your search like, “What is the best CRM out there?” Either way, you have the opportunity to oversee the entire world of Twitter to see if your product is being spoken of.  Once you get a hit, you have the ability to begin a dialogue with the other party and see if there could be some business there or answer a question they might have.  This can be a powerful tool for creating new business using social media.

Many users of social media often want to know how they can judge their results. .Fortunately, there are a few useful tools out there to help in understanding your overall effectiveness with social media sites like Twitter.  Check out Twinfluence.com or Twitalyzer.com to see how you are really doing on Twitter.  These sites measure the amount of combined influence you are having on the Twitter community.  They track things like, Reach, Velocity and Social Capital, which in part defines how successful you’re being with Twitter.  As defined by Twinfluence, reach is the number of total followers a Twitterer has, which includes first and second-order followers. It is a measurement of one’s potential audience.  Velocity averages the number of first and second-order followers attracted per day since the Twitterer first established their account.  The larger the number is, the faster that Twitterer has accumulated their influence.  Social capital refers to the average first-order network of a Twitterer’s followers.  It is the best way to measure how influential a Twitterer’s followers are.  By understanding where you need to focus your time and energies in order to get the best reach, velocity and social capital, the more effective you will be in obtaining the desired results.

Overall, the world of social media is changing every day.  Just when we think we have it under control, they add another feature that improves on the last.  It is an incredibly exciting time for sales and marketing people to take advantage and reap the rewards of working these media’s.  As for me, I am making new connections and creating new business opportunities everyday from using these tools.  As a speaker on social networking, I do get my share of nay-sayers and non believers in the audience from time to time, but they’ll come around.  I believe this because if they don’t, they may not be able to effectively compete in three to five years.  Whatever you might be doing with social media, stay focused on the social media’s that make the most sense for you.  By tracking and evaluating what’s working and what’s not, you will always come out better in the end.

About the Author:

Steve Fretzin President of Sales Results is a social networking expert.



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