As a business owner, you already know the importance of utilising traditional public relations media — print, radio and TV exposure — to keep your name circulating in the marketplace.

Now there is a new public relations (PR) outlet you need to become familiar with.

It is called social media marketing (SMM), and when combined with your traditional PR efforts, it can help you penetrate the marketplace with your message more quickly and easily than ever before.

 

What is social media marketing?

It is utilising the various social networking sites to enforce your brand and market your business. A social networking site is simply an online meeting place.

On such sites, people can post a profile with the hopes of meeting other like-minded professionals for business reasons.

According to the Nielsen Research Group, social networks and blogs have moved ahead of personal e-mail among the most popular online activities people engage in.

Additionally, USA Today reports that the time spent on these sites is growing three times faster than the overall Internet rate.

More than two-thirds of the world’s online population now visits social networking and blogging sites.

 

Return on investment

Knowing this, it is clear that if you haven’t engaged in SMM yet, the time to start is now.

But before you do, you need to be aware of the top mistakes businesses make with this PR outlet so you can avoid them and get the biggest return for your marketing investment:

 

1

 Having more than one face on the Internet

When you are engaging in SMM, you are really building your image from the ground up.

The goal of SMM is to virally spread parts of your image across the Internet.

The word “parts” is important.

Basically, you are starting with a holographic image of yourself in the virtual world.

You then need to break that hologram apart and find the appropriate places on the Internet where you can frame certain pieces of that hologram.

When people look at all the pieces at the various sites, they should be able to put them together to see a single whole. They should not see multiple images of who you are, as that would ruin your credibility.

Therefore, if you have multiple Facebook accounts, for example, your personal one has to be hidden and by invitation only.

You don’t want that other image out there confusing people and possibly diminishing your reputation.

 

2

 Collecting friends

SMM is how you create instant buzz on the Internet by getting the same message out over and over. It is about spreading your message and getting yourself branded so you can get more business.

Social networking, on the other hand, is about making friends.

For example, you have likely seen someone on LinkedIn who has 25,000-plus contacts. That is great, but what do you do with all those contacts?

Remember, just because you have a phone book in your office doesn’t mean you can open the book at random, pick a name, and call him for business.

When you collect a contact, you are supposed to be opening the door to exchange information and build a relationship.

Think of SMM as relationship marketing in the 21st century, and the same rules apply.

The only difference is that you are building the relationship online rather than over coffee.

 

Next: Never post anything you wouldn’t personally show your grandmother

Article by Pam Lontos, the president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, Florida, that specialises in speakers, authors and experts. Posted on www.fripp.com, the website of Patricia Fripp, an award-winning professional speaker and executive speech coach.