Friday, February 20, 2009

"Making Friends" - How to Start on Social Networking Sites

One type of website marketing that is vastly underestimated is that of Social Networking. By this, I mean using sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and potentially about 50 other sites, to promote your website.

This applies whether your site is a retail site, a blog, or pretty much anything else. Though many of these social networking sites were intended for individuals, not companies, the resources they provide can be used to great benefit by your online business.

The why, what, and how are another story. Right now, I want to go over how to get started on Social Networking, and the most important first step. "Making Friends."

When people start out on these sites, they often don't know how to start. The only thing that these sites seem to promote in order to make friends is adding friends from your personal contact list. Well, why don't you? Many business owners I know are hesitant to add their own friends to the list, but this is one of the best places to start. It's highly unlikely, after all, that your friends will give you negative PR, reject your friendship requests, or anything similar. Plus, by establishing a group of friends, you will show other potential "friends" that you're already established (even if you're not).

A second thing you'll want to do as you set up on these sites is to be certain that your company's profile looks nice. You should fill out all the information that's asked for (by whatever site you're working on), and you should add a non-salesy, smooth description of your site. Here's one as an example:

Genie in a Bottle is glad to be here on MySpace to continue networking, finding new business connections, and provide an additional way that our customers can get updates about upcoming events, sales, or other promotions. We sell the best Genies in lamps around. If you're interested in checking out our website, it can be found at If you're interested in hearing about upcoming promotions, receiving special discounts through MySpace, or getting in touch with us, just add us to your friends list.

Then, be sure that your profile is set to "public view," so people who aren't your friends already can check it out. Also, put information on which social networking sites you're using on your website, and mention that you occasionally give out promotion codes, or give word of new products, through these sites. This will prompt some of your buyers, and even some of your non-buying site visitors, to add you on these sites.

Now, these things alone may bring in a new friend from time to time, but you'll need to be a bit more active than that to start making connections. There are five words that sum up what you need to do:

Be active on the site.

It's hard to give specific directions on what you need to do (since every site is different), but being active is really the key. If the site has forums, participate in the forums! If it has blog features, participate in the blog features! Commenting on other people's blogs, or responding to their posts in forums, is one of the best ways to start meeting people.

Another tactic to use is to join groups on these websites. Most of these websites have different "groups" based on an interest in a similar subject. If you're selling pocket knives, wouldn't a group interested in camping make a great set of leads for you?

Oh, but let's be careful. I just called them "leads," and it's important to remember, these aren't just "leads." They're potential friends to your business, and you should treat them as such. You should not try to push your business on these people, and you should always be respectful.

Here's another piece of simple advice. One of the best ways to find friends is to be a friend to others. This works somewhat differently on each site, and on sites like Facebook and MySpace, it's not wise to "add a friend" who has no idea who you are. But on sites like Twitter, "following" someone is one of the best ways to get "followed." By finding someone who has interests that seem to be in relation to your site, and following them, they are likely to notice you, check your profile, and may or may not follow you in return.

So, let's answer in brief, why should you bother spending all this time doing this? Well, it's very simple. This is a waiting customer list. Once you have established friends, you can make "posts," "updates," or "notes" (the name is different for each site). Everyone on your friends list will be able to see these updates, and if you phrase your "notes" in a way that invites people to your site, you'll see increased traffic through these mediums.

So, yes, once again, it's all about traffic, spreading the word, and getting people to your site. It may take a while to establish yourself on each of these Social Networking sites, but once you have, it provides a completely free resource to build significant traffic to your website.

For more information on how a quality coaching company can help increase the traffic to your site, or help you build a new online business from scratch, simply check us out at

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