You know that the success of your online business is based on how much volume of targeted traffic you attract to your website, blog or online e-commerce store. One of the easier ways to do that is to master a few of the social media sites available, since social Media sites have exploded all across the web over the last year or so. With literally millions of websites and thousands of them probably selling almost similar products and services as yours, it's difficult to use traditional means to promote your products and even your website.
Attracting customers to your home based business by using social media sites sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? It is easy once you learn the how these networks work but many people running home based small businesses are still completely unaware of this method of reaching out to the world.
Social Media Marketing is the fastest growing phenomenon on the internet today, for its unique advantage of being able to tap into the latest and greatest user generated content such as blogs and bookmarking sites. So, every business, big or small, home based or not, should definitely utilize any of the hundreds of social networking sites to attract customers to their business and increase sales.
1. Create a Blog
Blogs are highly interactive, with ongoing conversations amongst like minded people, and can be easily controlled and shaped by the blog author. This is in contrast to static web-sites that just sit there conveying one-way information to the visitors. As a blogger, you can write about anything and everything and if you are writing useful articles, solving people's problems or providing value with your content, you'll easily develop a faithful audience. By sharing your thoughts and ideas with you website visitors, you establish trust and build a relationship with them, instead of coming off as some marketing robots. Do not just start a blog and then hope someone would be buying your services or products. Get involved in the community because that is what blogging is all about. Visit other blogs in your industry and participate in the ongoing discussions, leaving a link to your website. If you are leaving meaningful comments, people will want to look at what your site is all about.
2. Create Videos
Low-cost high speed internet connections everywhere, low cost portable devices, phones and laptops with wireless connections capable of streaming video content combined with YouTube, EyeSpot, Google Videos, Revver, JumpCut, Grouper and vSocial to name just a few, make it extremely easy to spread your content to wider audience. If nothing else, converting your text content to short infomercials is a must in your efforts of marketing. YouTube allows you to add friends, leave comments on other people's videos. These video sites are used by millions, so using the comment systems judiciously, in an attempt to attract the right kind of population is a must.
3. Join a Networking Site
By joining many social networking sites, it'll be easier for you to find new customers for your business. By actively participating and sharing useful informative content with other members, you'll develop a stronger voice and in time will gain recognition of other high profiled members. Making your connections with these other powerful and known members will make you more visible and once you are visible, you'll gain trust of many, which will make selling your services or products easier.
4. Join Online Groups
Google Groups and Yahoo Groups, LinkedIn and other forums, that allow people with similar interests to have discussions are places for any small business owner to be able to find the right customers. On these sites, you should also be able to have a sense of locations and demographics from people's profiles. Don't forget to use your own same powerful profile that you built is recognizable on other networking sites.
5. Get Involved in Local Business Networks
Besides interacting with the virtual communities like Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and MySpace, do not shy away from taking active role in the offline gatherings, face-to-face real-life conferences and social meet ups to connect with other professionals and learn about your local communities and its needs.
Home business can benefit and thrive from socializing actively with the online as well as off line communities. Every social networking scenario will have different rules to participate, get ahead and be visible. So, learn the rules and follow them properly.
Do not spam the system and do not start asking other members to vote your content up or buy your services the first day of joining (or even the first week of joining). Get to know people. Help them in their endeavors first before trying to gain something. I've had people send me shouts on Digg the first day of them joining the network and befriending me. Or on StumbleUpon, there are people who will tell you to vote their content without giving any introduction first. That's a strict no no.
Regardless of what you are selling and how you attract traffic to your home business, there is one way that works all the time, and that is the quality of your content. Continuing to add fresh content to your website will be searchable on the search engines as well as be appreciated by your likely customers.
Where to find Social Networking Sites
There are many places you can find these sites and join them, learn them and start participating. Here are some of the resources that I know of:
Social Media Sites @ Traffikd
List of Social Networking Sites @ Wikipedia
Note: I don't run a home business, but I have been using many social media sites and networks for some time now and feel that the above points should work for any type of small business in achieving it's goal of finding new customers. Feel free to add to these points and let us know how you have used networking for your business.
This post is submitted to Don's Group Writing Project on Home Based Businesses