Social Networking: How to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar

A shift has taken place in the way we buy and sell since the advent of the internet. There’s a belief that the store is always open and the consumer is always shopping. Things now happen at a faster pace. Social networks have also increased dramatically.

Social networking is an invaluable marketing tool. It is now the way people communicate with one another and keep in touch. It has become a necessary part of everyone’s professional life. Being proactive by using social networks for business purposes is only common sense.

As marketing budgets get tighter, social networks become a more affordable option. Existing and potential clients are using the internet as their preferred method of gathering information and doing research. It is the tool of choice for networking.

Consider how you use the internet for research and networking. If you are thinking about going out to a new restaurant someone told you about, chances are you are going to Google it to look at the menu and get directions. Then you are going to post a note to your friend on Facebook who will be joining you to fill them in on the details.

If you are not in the social networking loop and communicating with your clients and prospects in this way that you run the risk of losing relevancy and business. More and more professionals of all types are taking the leap into the social networking arena, if for no other reason than to appear relevant. They know it is a vital resource and essential to their business.

Getting More for Your Marketing Dollar

As the economy struggles to get back on its feet, many of us are still struggling with our limited budgets. Marketing expenses have become tighter and tighter. Therefore, the alternative of free marketing through social networking venues is a terrific alternative.

Coaches, freelancers and therapists have begun to see how helpful and essential it is for them to become involved with sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s helpful not to jump in with blindfolds on. Instead set specific goals and create a strategy to obtain the results you are looking for. Are you interested in increasing visibility? Do you want to increase your client base by a certain percentage? Are you trying to sell more products and services?

Start Here

First, as a professional you should have at least one active blog, belong to several forums and be involved in several of the larger social networks. Each offers a different opportunity for positioning yourself and your business in the marketplace. If you are a creative marketer you could also create a video, or multiple videos for that matter, each on a different topic relevant to your market. It is helpful to be active in a social network where discussions can easily take place and questions can be asked and answered.

Second, create a profile on Facebook. This will give readers access to information about you, your business and your products and services. When people join your group on Facebook this information then has the potential to be spread virally through their newsfeed. View your website as a brochure you are presenting to the public domain. When people are looking for information the use Google and find your website. Facebook is also a network that allows people to find what they are looking for even as it tends to be more social in nature. It is being used for business communications more frequently every day.

But is There Enough Time?

As messages pile up on Facebook and blog comments need responding to, your networking “to do” list begins to get longer and longer. Readers want to find fresh information when they visit your blog or your Facebook page. So even as you place those marketing icons on your email and website, you’re worried that you don’t have enough time to do everything you need to do to keep up.

If your customer base is growing and you are running short on time, you must find another way to handle these important networking tasks. A new option for busy professionals can be found in the virtual assistant (VA). Find one that can keep your data current, produce content and information and add a new video every week for your website or blog visitors. It will be important to find someone to provide meaningful content.

Why Does It Matter?

1. Twitter has 3 million readers; two-thirds are men between the ages of 18 and 34.

2. LinkedIn has over 26 million readers. Men make up 64 percent of the readership with an average age of 41; average income is $109,000.

3. FaceBook has over 110 million readers; 80% are under the age of 30 and the majority are women, one half are located in U.S., Canada and Great Britain

4. MySpace has over 185 million users between the ages of 14 and 34 and evenly split between women and men; 25% live in the U.S.

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