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Which Social Media Sites Make Sense for Your Business? Here's How to Decide.

Which Social Media Sites Make Sense for Your Business? Here's How to Decide.
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In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author Bob Baker offers tips on how and what you can be communicating about online.

Are you ready to get busy promoting yourself online? Then you might ask, what sites will deliver the most bang for your buck? How can you make the best use of your time? And what do you communicate to your fans, friends, followers, and subscribers?

While there's no one-size-fits-all, the key is to tailor your online marketing plan to your strengths and personality. To help you figure this out, let’s break down this confusing topic into its most basic components. We'll start by diving into the vehicles you’ll use to deliver your messages.

Here are the four basic methods you have to communicate online:

1. Text. This category might include short tweets you post on Twitter, status updates you add on Facebook, articles you post to a blog, email messages you send to fans, and more. If you can write even moderately well, this is the easiest and most common way to communicate online.

2. Audio. If you have a decent speaking voice and are comfortable doing it, you might record yourself offering helpful advice or delivering a commentary on your topic. You can also create spoken-word messages for your website visitors or social media followers.

Another option would be to produce your own podcast, which is basically an online radio show. More time and technical skills are required, but podcasts are a good audio option to consider.

3. Video. Video has become one of the most popular ways that people absorb information online. There are many ways you can communicate using video, including simple talking-head recordings of you speaking directly into a webcam, interviews you conduct with other experts and entrepreneurs, instructional screencast tutorials, interviews with raving fans, sneak peeks at life on the road or backstage at a live event, a visual tour of your office or workspace, and more.

4. Still images. These can include shots taken from your latest promotional photo shoots or live events. They can also be still photo versions of some of the video ideas in the previous paragraph: Pictures of you with your fans, life on the road, your workspace, etc.

Additional ways to use visuals online: Upload images of your products, business cards, T-shirt designs, stage banners—anything that will catch the attention of distracted fans online and motivate them to spend a few extra moments seeing what you’re up to.

So what sites should you focus on? Here are four tips:

  • If the written word is your strength, then perhaps Wordpress, Blogger, or Tumblr would be best for you.
  • If it’s spoken-word audio, you might make Soundcloud or your own podcast via iTunes and Stitcher the main focus of your efforts.
  • If the video format is your thing, then YouTube or Vimeo would be obvious sites to invest time in.
  • If you have a flair for design and creating eye-catching images, then Pinterest and Instagram would probably suit you best.

Now that you know your ideal communication mode, here are six ideas for what to post:

1. Original content. This is stuff you create from scratch. It might be a blog post about an experience that inspired your new service or a short video asking people to come to your next speaking event. It can be a review of your favorite new book, a commentary on something that’s hot in the news, or photos of your recent trip to a location related to your business.

2. Curated content. You don’t have to actually create everything you share with your followers. One thing smart online marketers do is “curate” content—which is just a fancy way of saying they find helpful stuff their customers might enjoy and link to it.

Whatever your business is, you can start pointing people to the best articles, reviews, videos, interviews, and events related to it. By doing this, people in your target audience come to view you as a trusted source of information on your topic. Doing so, you’ll attract more targeted fans.

3. Personal updates. While many of your updates and messages will be related to your business, product, or service, you should also consider sharing glimpses into your personal life. This will help fans feel they know you as a person as well as an entrepreneur.

4. Funny or heartfelt observations. If you have a sense of humor, share your wit online.  Whether it’s a comment about the funny thing one of your kids said or your opinion of the quarterback’s lousy performance last week, consider posting some of these humorous things online. The same thing applies to more serious and touching experiences you have. If you’re laughing, smiling, or crying about something, there’s a good chance other people will, too.

5. Quotes. When you’re really coming up blank for something to post online, you can’t go wrong with a funny or inspiring quote. I can tell you from my experience, quotes get shared and commented on a lot. There are countless websites dedicated to quotes, so you won’t have any trouble finding good ones with a quick search.

6. Straight promotion and sales. I saved this for last, not because it’s unimportant but because I wanted to put it in its proper place. Some aggressive promoters think that everything you post online should be selling something—that’s a shortsighted attitude. Other timid businesspeople are afraid to market themselves or sell at all. That’s a poor strategy, too.

The key is finding a balance. A basic rule of thumb might be for every 10 things you post, make three of them promotional in nature—letting fans know where they can purchase your product or service, asking people to sign up for your free email list, announcing an upcoming workshop, etc.

Even if you don’t think you have much going on in a given week or month, continue to post regularly and stay visible throughout your social networks so people will be more involved with you and more likely to jump in and support you when you have something really big to promote and sell.