Small Business Social Media Marketing Strategies

Being a small business owner requires the ability to wear many hats and become proficient in multiple skills. Long before opening the doors, owners must develop strategic business and marketing plans to ensure required tasks are accomplished.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for small business owners is engaging in effective and affordable marketing strategies. While it is nearly impossible to build brand recognition without substantial marketing efforts, this venue can be cost-prohibitive for companies just starting out.

Social media marketing is a venue that is not only affordable, but can yield powerful results. This technique can be interconnected with other online marketing strategies to obtain maximum online visibility.

Most people are familiar with social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Nearly every major consumer brand has implemented a Facebook business page. This venue is effective for interacting with consumers and offering private discounts or sales offers to subscribers.

Social media outlets can be used to promote company websites, blogs, marketing videos, podcasts, digital newsletters, press releases, and informational articles. Business owners can interact with subscribers to obtain feedback, build momentum about a new product release, and share company news.

Social media marketing also encompasses social bookmarking through websites such as StumbleUpon and Digg. Not only can companies promote their own marketing collateral, they can also share resources about other companies. This provides opportunity to build customer relations and expand business connections.

Another form of social marketing is publishing comments to like-minded blogs or websites. Many companies use this strategy to develop relationships with businesses that would be a good marketing partner.

For example, FoodBuzz.com is the #1 online foodie network. It provides a venue where food bloggers can meet other foodies and share recipes. However, FoodBuzz has numerous sponsors who reach out to food bloggers and provide incentives to promote their products. This is a prime example of co-op marketing that not only reduces time, but also costs.

Leaving comments on company websites and blogs is a good strategy for link building online. Link building is essential for boosting search engine rankings. While search engines utilize a variety of techniques to determine where websites rank, inbound links is one of the more important criteria. When hundreds of websites link to a specific website it signals the search engines that it is a popular site and offers information people are looking for.

The primary goals of incorporating social marketing into a small business are to develop customer relations, build brand recognition, and improve online visibility. There are many facets to social media marketing, so it can be beneficial to participate in a marketing training course to learn about available strategies and how to capitalize on each.

Small business owners often find it advantageous to outsource marketing projects to an online marketing company. Working with professionals eases burdens for entrepreneurs and frees up time for them to attend to business management.

Those who are new to operating a small business may find it helpful to visit the Small Business Association website at SBA.gov. The SBA provides a variety of training courses, business financing resources, mentors, and step-by-step guides for developing business and marketing plans.

Getting Website Traffic with Social Bookmarking

In making the Internet an easier place for users to navigate, the concept of bookmarking has become quite the commonly used tool. Whether you surf the Net using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or other selections, storing your preferred website links for future use is easy to accomplish when using “bookmarks” and “favorites.” Today, this same concept is being used to drive traffic to websites through a technique called “social bookmarking.”

The availability of social bookmarking has increased over the years with sites, such as Digg, Reddit, and del.icio.us. With these services, bookmarks are stored online instead of on a computer, making accessibility possible from any computer that connects to the Internet. Instead of using cumbersome folders to store bookmarks, these sites rely upon “tags.”

With this shift in traditional bookmarking, a user may assign and place their bookmarks into many different categories. Another advantage in social bookmarking is the innovative methods in which organization is achieved. This includes the many ways people are allowed to view their tags. For instance, “tag clouds” help locate bookmarks by using weighted lists coupled with visual design. The most frequently used tags appear in a larger font or showcase specialized emphasis. Alphabetization is also added to tag clouds, making it easier to locate tags in alphabetical order and by popularity.

When it comes to using social bookmarking as a way to drive website traffic, the ability to share favorite sites with other people aids in the discovery of new sites. When people show tags linked to a particular website, interest is created as visitors with similar interests click. For example, if you utilize social bookmarking and store many site links associated with growing grapes, you can keep an eye out for all of the bookmarks that other people interested in grapes have also saved. In the end, the convenient system allows users to expand their knowledge by clicking on the links (or tags) that mean the most to them.

Website traffic increases for sites when they become part of a bookmarking system comprised of many different people, as services often cater to specific topics and formats, which include feeds, shopping items, videos, and books. The most successful sites have been able to reach a wider audience and increase their chances for enticing a consumer to make a purchase. The key to luring a great deal of visitors is by providing helpful and useful information that encourages others to bookmark. Website owners are also able to track their progress with the public, as they can find out who has bookmarked their site.

Increased website traffic not only helps business and personal websites, but also blogs. Some people set up their blog to link to their favorite tagged sites, permitting visitors to their blog to easily bookmark the site. The increased traffic may also gain a better Google Page Rank for some. Depending on the social bookmarking service you select, you may add your own bookmarks to your blog, which leads to updated tags and links that take place on a daily basis. Traffic increases and users stand to gain a better page rank through suitable backlinks.

The only setbacks social bookmarking poses for some is the lack of standard sets of keywords; lack of standard tag structure; and unclear tags. Sometimes, mistagging occurs because of spelling mistakes. Also, users vary with their use of plurals and capitalization. Unfortunately, some people also abuse the system, which can lead to spamming, but overall, social bookmarking is far more convenient and beneficial for driving traffic than not.

Beyond Facebook – Other Social Tools Your Business Needs

OK – so everyone knows about Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn and you are probably already using one or more of them everyday for your business. But did you know that there are way more social tools out there which could also potentially be very helpful to your online business expansion. Let’s take a look at a few other hot social tools:

1.) Social Bookmarks

Have you heard of Digg, Delicious, Reddit or StumpleUpon? Most people just see these bookmarks as fun tools to browse through but they can also be beneficial to your business needs. Firstly these tools are popular with many journalists and established bloggers so posting on these sites could potentially mean that you’re articles are being seen by some of the big names in the industry… that can never be a bad thing, right? Secondly, many social bookmarking sites offer cheap PPC campaigns which are ultra-targeted and only run in relevant sub-sections.

2.) Social Media Management Companies

Companies such as HootSuite and Nimble are becoming increasingly popular with businesses as they are a ‘one stop shop’ for giving you information on all social networks that your potential customers are on. Say you are meeting with a new client who you want to make a good impression with? How do you give yourself the best shot at getting his/her business? Well a good way to be successful is to cater to what that client wants. How do you know what they want? Check out what they are talking about on LinkedIn updates, Twitter or Facebook posts. Another great thing about SMM companies is that they the can instantly notify you if your company/website is mentioned on a social media platform.

3.) Social Intranet

OK – so it depends on your budget for this one but social intranet sites do not always have to cost a lot of money. Sites such as Bitrix 24 offer free services for up to 12 users to use this tool. Websites like Bitrix24 join together several different work platforms in one single application. It incorporates live streaming activities, file and document sharing and project and workforce management, just to name a few. So it means that it can help you with your clients, collaborate with your colleagues, share files, exchange ideas etc. Pretty cool right?

OK so we have gone through some other social tools besides Facebook which can really help your business start to kick butt in the social media world. Do you have any experiences with these or other tools, let us know what works for you. Leave your comments below.

A Complete List of Dofollow Social Bookmarking Sites

First of all, since I always like paying special attention to beginners, I’d like to explain exactly what dofollow social bookmarking sites are. Social bookmarking sites, in order to prevent spammy submissions, usually add nofollows, which are basically an instruction that the Google bot gets telling it not to pay attention to the link on their site towards yours. Therefore, the link does not enhance your site’s PageRank, which is one of the most, if not the most important factor to get top spots on Google.

Are these links useless then? The answer is no. They are still useful if you want traffic, publicity for your site and reader interest, among other things. However, there are dofollow social bookmarking sites out there. Right now, we’re talking about smaller websites, not the most famous, but submission is useful. It won’t replace a quality SEO and social media marketing strategy, but it can be an interesting part of it.

Here is a very complete list of some dofollow social bookmarking sites which I’ve put together. You might find more spam than usual here, and remember that these sites tend to appear and disappear fast – you might have to really go through the list and re-check it once in a while – but they are still a valid option:

BackFlip

Blinklist

Blogoria

Chain-Marking

Chipmark

Connotea

Current

Diigo

Dizzed

Ebaum’s world

FeedMarker

Folkd

Gozoof

Jim’s Free Links

Jumbomark

Kingtop

Kwoff

MyLinkVault

MyPIP

Oyax

Oyax

Planete Blog

Plime

So Force

Social Article

Tagza

Tamilers

Taqza

astoreseo

bibsonomy

blogmark

booklandonline

bookmark-tag

chainmaster

citijournalist

contentpop

countingbiz

crowdfound

delmaster

experts-views

eyoorl

ezinesocialmark

firstbookmark

firstdigg

firstwebonline

freelinkvault.

mainlinks

manualsocialmarks

memfrag

multiplysocial

mysocialmarker

mywebdesktop

qiinga

reebiesup

royallisting

seoblisting

socialbuilder

socialearth

sociatectmark

spotlinking

stingclip

surfurls

technoratitags

theclaimid

thelifelogger

themagicmenu

tweakonews

ugotreview

voteboat

way2marks

wedelia

xilinus

yomashnews

yucoffee

zangkok

So how do we discover nofollow links anyway? Although I’m usually a Google Chrome user, for this I recommend using the Mozilla Firefox browser, because it enables you to install what are called add-ons. If you search for ‘firefox nofollow addon’, you will be able to install a number of programs that mark nofollow links with red highlighting – a very useful trick for any webmaster. Whenever you go into a website which is all marked in red, you’ll know that links placed there are not useful for SEO purposes. On the other hand, if there’s no red highlighting, you’re good to go.

Other good ways to get dofollow links is by submitting work you write to certain PR (or Press Release) sites. While traffic on these isn’t generally huge, the dofollow links are valuable: just the same situation as with the dofollow social bookmarking sites we listed before… These PR sites don’t value quality content as much, so it’s fine to submit less newsworthy or informative items, such as announcements about your business, which – let’s face it – might be a little bit less interesting to a general public.