Internet Branding Step 4: Social Media, New Media Marketing, or Online Networking

Part 1: Internet Branding versus Personal Branding

Part 2: Internet Branding Step 1: Understanding Your Goal & Assessing Your Digital distinction

 

Everyone defines social media differently.

When in doubt, I always use www.Wikipedia.org which states, “Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share content, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives and media themselves.”

As a small business owner, I share all of my content, opinions, experiences, perspectives and medium with you—my reader, therefore making it a very powerful branding & marketing medium for you, your products & services.

Social media has many different forms. It can be in text, images (such as logos & avatars) used in your blogs, audio such as podcasting, webcasts and videos such as YouTube. You can also use tools like as message boards, forums, and bookmarking sites.

We’re presently in this new wave on the internet called “Web 2.0.” — the second wave of user-generated content. We’re creating a consumer-generated community where we share opinions, we ask in our blogs: “Do you agree with my opinions? Do you disagree? Am I totally way off?” etc.

When you write or share a video, it could go viral. If someone loves your video and audio, they’ll post it on a message board, their blog, distribute it on their ezine list, post on their website…etc. It’s This powerful.

My colleague, Deb Micek, is a columnist for www.WomenEntrepreneur.com, the sister site to www.Entrepreneur.com, Entrepreneur magazine. She is its social media or New Media Marketing columnist.

She says that Web 2.0 is made for women because, “If I share my opinion, women are apt to agree, disagree or share indifferently.” The great thing about women and Web 2.0 is that, if they agree, disagree or are indifferent, they will share their opinion.

What are the ways to do it?

Blogging and social networking websites, like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. LinkedIn has a life of its own. People are making recommendations and referring others to me. My LinkedIn account just grows and has a life of its own.

Facebook is the newest “best-thing”. I was supposed to dedicate the entire month of November to just learning how to optimize that site…but, I’ve then been sick…for another day soon ;-)

The bookmarking websites are StumbleUpon, Digg, www.sk-rt.com, and del.icio.us. For instance, you like one of my articles or website, etc. All you have to do is bookmark it.

 Here’s an easy way to describe things:

You know how you have bookmarks on your internet browser on your personal computer or laptop? The websites you like and want to save for later.

Well, the problem lies in that fact that I have four computers and 1 laptop (soon-to-be 3) at home. I have 30 bookmarks on my personal computer, but if I use the laptop, my bookmarks aren’t there.

StumbleUpon, de.licio.us and Digg created online bookmark web pages. You can bookmark any of your web pages with your account at these sites. Your bookmarks are always available to you because they’re on a website, not on your desktop.

What’s critical is that you create friends in each of these bookmarking websites. When I create a bookmark for XYZwebsite.com, all of my friends have access to it.

That one bookmark can drive traffic to the site because, “Ponn said she liked this. She thought it was worthy enough to be bookmarked, let’s check it out.” Each of these bookmarking sites have “tell a friend” options when you bookmark too…so email alerts are sent to friends of your choice. What’s cool is that we generate this kind of targeted traffic for ourselves by be-friending like-minded colleagues and friends online.

People tend to write testimonials and recommendations in the process of their web surfing too. I have people stumbling upon me and I have recommendations from others I’ve never even met. They like my website, give their thumbs-up, and write a little recommendation, which in turn drives more traffic to my site. They like what they read and they share it with their friends, and they share it with their friends, and so on.

While many people utilize bookmarking sites, I highly recommend building your networking sites too, ie LinkedIn, Facebook.

For example, in my LinkedIn account, I’ve gotten recommendations cc’d saying, “You need to learn more about internet branding? Ponn Sabra is the key person to learn from.”

You’re ability to build your account to the professional things you want to be known for, or “branded on the internet” is critical to your business’s success and viability.

You can build accounts around your website, books, ebooks, and consultation and coaching services.  Build one account and building the others comes like second nature.

While many haven’t been involved in a lot of this stuff, people are quickly eager to get involved. It’s a form of giving you credibility through other people recommendations—sortof like generating second-party-unbiased opinion/testimonial for you, your products and services. 

So, I always recommend that you start the ball running in your favor, by making professional accounts, writing your best material, and basically putting your best foot forward at all time online.

People are inquisitive yet skeptical. So, social media marketing is ideal for us entrepreneurs and small business owners with our own niche speciality; because if others find something they like, its in their nature to write about it and tell their friends…so their recommendations buzz around the internet in your favor.

That’s how these bookmarking and networking sites are made. They’re based on recommendations…and creating viral buzz.

Keep in mind though that if they don’t like something about you, they’ll be the first ones to bring you down with full critiques/criticisms. BUT, here’s the best part of a downside. If you get a thumbs-down, people are intrigued to find out why…so, those very people will be taking a look your way, driving traffic to your site and hopefully forming their own opinions—good or bad. 

And, then—the Best part of that down-side is: because of the real-time nature of social media…is that you can calmly, and professionally write up a rebuttal, defense, apology, etc. and come up on-top from this one negative comment! 

A lot of small business owners I know are just dipping their toes into this area, taking a look and thinking about it.

If someone were just starting and wanted to try one of these social media sites, the best place I think to start is LinkedIn.

Why?

My sister invited me to LinkedIn about four years ago. [Take a look here, and let’s become friends ;-) ] I never used it. Then I dedicated one day to sign up. It only took four hours to create my entire LinkedIn account to get recommendations and build my network score to 100%, which means you have certain number of friends/referrals, you have recommendations on file, you added your professional profile (present and past work experience, etc.). 

At the beginning of the day my profile was less than 25% (I don’t remember exactly…but, it should’ve been like 0% since I never used it). With a little dedication…like I said it took me 4-hours, I made it 100% so more people can join.

Now about a year later, I get recommendations, testimonials and requests to be linked to people I don’t even know. 

“I love your site. Will you please link in to me?” I’m always amazed by people coming out of the woodwork. It’s a great way to network. 

I typically reply, “Thank you very much. I would love to know more about why you love my site. Would you mind recommending me?” and they’ll do that, giving me more credibility at the same time I get to learn about them, because I’ll “read” their profiles. 

LinkedIn is very easy. 

But if people have the time, are more tech-savvy I highly recommend working on Facebook! [Here I am.]

I have one colleague in PR (Public Relations). She’s friends with magazine editors and publishers at Fortune 500 magazine. You can get Facebooked and connected to very powerful friends, like politicians, actresses, well-known famous people.

You’ll be surprised by the people who will request connecting with you. I have yet to decline anyone in either of my LinkedIn or Facebook account. [If you haven’t received a reply recently…it’s simply because I haven’t been online for months…slowly weaning back. First duty (as described above) is to build quality information for you to see I’m still worthy of your time ;-) ].  

In terms of social bookmarking, my top recommendation would be StumbleUpon. [Here’s my account.] It’s one of the easiest places to get your profile up. You can literally do it in five minutes. To actively befriend you and teach you how to do it, I have a couple detailed articles on how to use StumbleUpon personally and for your business.

Secondly, a very easy place is Del.icio.us, here’s my Beginner’s guide

 For women, there’s a new media site, www.sk-rt.com. I have a couple how-to articles here:

It’s a great start-up story. Three to five women were watching the Super Bowl in February 2007.

They said, “Wait a minute. We wouldn’t want to spend millions of dollars on advertising during the Super Bowl. Why don’t we do a Digg for women?” They designed sk*rt and launched it in June 2007. It’s an incredible website to be associated with!

Interested in a challenge? While I have yet to reach 500 RSS subscribers…I’ll blame it on my health preventing me to be as active as I should be, but give it a whirl:

Enjoy the social media online networking fun, and please share your experiences below!

 

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