Social media marketing has been a catchphrase for a few years now, and everyone knows that they’re “supposed” to use social media to boost business. But how do actual businesses get a return on investment from using social media platforms like today’s two biggest ones, Facebook and Twitter?Business Week magazine did a survey of 100 mid-sized businesses and basically asked them what they were doing social media-wise, and how it was working out for them. The results were dispiriting: only 8% of the businesses surveyed said that the effort they’d put into social media marketing actually drove business results. What did this 8% do that the other 92% didn’t? Let’s check it out.First of all, lots of mid-sized companies are using social media. Business Week’s survey showed that 74% of them use Twitter, 71% use Facebook, 53% use YouTube, and 36% use blogging. But the survey suggests that there are three elements that appear to be common to those businesses that have reported actual success in their social marketing.First of all, these are companies that have developed media listening skills. Listening is, of course, a very important part of social dynamics, yet lots of businesses don’t listen to what their customers are saying. The ones who succeed with it are those that monitor blogs, Twitter, and various online communities to pick up on consumer sentiment, and what’s more, they consider what consumers are saying and actually respond to it. Yet only about a third of social marketers even bother to monitor these media!Second, they use a multi-step approach to figuring out exactly what consumers are saying and what their responses can accomplish. For example, media might displace some traditional consumer research. Or it might be useful in pre-emptying the spread of negative information. The companies that successfully navigate this milieu are the ones that at least attempt to measure the return on value of the components of their participation in media exposure. Rather than, for example, just counting how many Facebook friends they have, they track click-throughs from Facebook users in the company’s target demographic.Third, they rightly see social media as a way to improve their brand’s competitive position by creating a whole new type of value for customers. For example, Best Buy decided to put retail staff who were competent in answering consumer electronics questions into a Twitter-based help force. This alone shifted customer expectations about the experience of buying electronics, changing the game for competitors as well.A social media marketing strategy involves far more than just setting up accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Companies have to learn to listen to what customers are saying, and not just use these platforms for pushing their products. And they need to develop ways of measuring whether they’re getting a return on their investment, and come up with novel ways to use it to give customers something competitors aren’t giving. If you don’t know where to begin with all this, then you should consider working with professional social media marketing services, who know the ins and outs of using these exciting new platforms to get positive, real business results.
If you look at most of the most successful Internet Marketers, the one thing they all have in common is how well respected they are within the forums in their particular niche.This is really evident in the biggest forum online today, the Warrior Forum where threads are often discussing who are the ‘biggest 5 names in Internet Marketing today’. This list changes depending on who starts the post, who writes within it and who is ‘flavour of the month’. This is the cutting edge Forum for all who want to learn about Internet Marketing, eBook products and home based businesses.Not everyone is a huge fan of Forum Marketing, but those that benefit from the business they have got from Forums cannot praise this enough as one of their top marketing strategies.I love Forum Marketing and when I started I looked around for teaching products but failed to find what I was looking for. Yes there were one or two products that told you to use Forum Marketing to promote your business, but didn’t explain how to do this without looking like a spammer or an annoying car salesman!It is sad to see so many people in the Forums thinking they are marketing their product because that is how their mentors told them to do it but they are simply wasting their time. Time is the one thing none of us have enough of so why not use it as productively as you can by using Forum Marketing the way it should be used.Some of the more new and timid marketers will see others being labelled with the Online Forums as spammers or just being told off and this could easily knock their confidence and make them write off Forum Marketing before they even really get started. My advice would be to become a great student; spend the first few weeks, about an hour each day just watching how others post, how they respond and get a feel for how it all works.When working within Internet Forums, you really need to master some basic strategies:The Importance of Forum MarketingBefore you start implementing this strategy in a concerted way, you need to understand the specific advantages and disadvantages (yes there are some) of Forum Marketing. You need to know how to work your time in the Forums effectively.What to Promote with Forum MarketingYou may already have a product or service you want to promote within the Online Forums, but if you don’t have that, then it is so easy to create your own product or service just by using Forums.The Best Forums for Your NicheYou cannot just go into Forums and start marketing because that will get you banned. You have to know which forums will be most productive for you. It is all about taking your time to find the right Forum that will give you the best return on your time.How to Create An Effective SignatureThe best and ‘non spammy’ way of effectively marketing in Online Forums is to have a keyword rich anchor text signature. Many people within the Forums have no signature or they have one that is really untidy and unprofessional looking. A Forum Signature is the little bit of text after your post that includes Anchor Text linking back to your website. You need to make your signature attractive, preferably by creating intrigue so people want to click on to see what it is all about. You want it to attract however rather than distract so not too loud and just a subtle call to action for your reader.How to Establish Yourself as an Expert in Your NicheIt is really important that others posting within the Forum see you as someone of authority, a so called subject matter expert and this does not happen by just visiting the Forums for 10 minutes each week. You have to earn this status by regular posting, giving value, helping others and always offering solutions. This is really important if you want people to buy from you. By working in these forums daily, you will ensure you always remain current with what is going on within your niche. I would suggest that you post on average 5-6 posts per day.SummaryForum Marketing is underused and most definitely undervalued as a business marketing strategy. Using Forums is a great way to promote your business provided you remember what your focus should be. You should answer questions and give advice, create an effective forum signature and make sure you are a regular visitor and contributor at all the forums within your niche.