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Understanding the Playing Field of Social Media Marketing

Designing and building a social media campaign that’s successful is a bit like designing and building a high-rise. First, you need to research your material, then you need to put down a solid foundation, and then you need to continue with regular maintenance to ensure your social media promotion is a success.
The Proper Building Blocks
The proper building blocks are key to successful social media marketing. The strongest social media plan needs to include the following building blocks:
Democratized Social News Sites
These tools permit online marketers to network with a community by both voting on content and by submitting your own content for others to vote on. Examples include Reddit and Mixx.
Social Sites
These sites offer a fantastic opportunity to build and interact with a network, and to publish your original content in a number of forms such as videos, photos, links, news, and more. Examples include Facebook and LinkedIn.
Editor Controlled News Sites
When content the user submits fits the editorial guidelines it is accepted and distributed. These high profile websites can produce enormous results. Yahoo is a great example of a news site.
Micro-Blogging Sites
These include sites like Twitter and Friendfeed, where your comments are limited to 140 characters or less. Keep your comments interesting. A great way to broadcast to a large audience.
Social Bookmarking Sites
A great tool for marketers are social bookmarking sites where you can submit URLs of interest to sites like Delicious and StumbleUpon, which will drive targeted traffic to specific page. These sites are great for doing research pertaining to the type of content that your audience is interested in.
Wiki Sites
If you want to dominate search results, Wikis are a great tool, because they frequently rank high. Use wikis to reach new audiences by posting original content and editing existing content.
Social Question & Answer Sites
Marketers can answer existing questions and post new questions on sites such as Wiki Answers and Yahoo! Answers. This is a great way to develop and grow brand reputation and become an authority. It’s also an excellent way to do audience research.
Social Content Sharing Sites
Flickr and YouTube, are just a couple of the sites that let you post specific content types, from photos to video to reviews. These sites can aid marketers to build brand recognition and to target relevant audiences.
Niche Sites
These sites target a specific niche, such as Chihuahuas, Italian wine, or blogging. As a marketer these are excellent because you are able to target a extremely relevant audience.
Blueprints
In order to create a social media campaign that will be successful you must have a detailed plan. These steps will ensure your campaign is solid.
Background Research
Learn where your online audience is located. Examine the type of content they submit to social media sites for ideas of what interests them. Also, identify thought leaders to target in order to spread your message to a broad audience.
Brainstorming
The purpose of brainstorming is to generate tons of ideas that you can use for promotions. Have a look at what has worked in the past and then build upon that. Look at what has worked for other similar companies or products and then see how that could be integrated into your platform. Take the time to filter out the good, the bad, and the really good, so that you can find a workable solution.
Idea Research
You will need to follow up on the ideas you implemented to see if they actually worked (and how well they worked) based on what currently happening in the targeted social media. Flexibility is really important, as is the ability to adapt and change if something isn’t working. After all, there’s no point in continuing down a path that isn’t working.
Story Production
Work hard to avoid a message that is an obvious sales pitch, and what’s referred to as marketing speak. Use videos and photos to enrich your stories.
Schedule and Launch
You need to be aware of the days and the times you targeted audience is on the social network sites. Make sure you link your promotions to relevant events to generate timely interest.
Build a Foundation
For your social media marketing campaign to be a success it’s key to interact with a social community and build a strong foundation. There’s a reason it’s called social. Make sure you are socializing with an appropriate community and use these guidelines to get the most out of your campaign.
Network and be Social
You should continuously join and participate in groups, make new friends and interact with existing friends, and in general participate in the community.
Be Genuine and On Target
Provide your audience with what it wants.
Provide Value
Provide users with something of value – expert advice, tips, something entertaining, etc.
Allow People to Act Naturally
Allow users to have fun with your content and interact in a natural way. Don’t force them to interact in a specific manner.
Listen and Respond
Watch for positive and negative reactions to your content once it goes live. Respond to your users and always work to improve content.
The Wrong Way to Use Social Media Marketing
When it comes to generating results in their social media marketing campaigns, some social media marketers choose to cross over to the dark side and we’re not talking about Darth Vader’s dark side. Avoid creating a social media ring so members can vote your content up, messing with the reputation of a competitor, using social media applications that automate processes, or hacking WordPress blogs to include your link. Avoid these unscrupulous tactics because they will not benefit you over the long haul and can actually jeopardize your long term success.
Create a comprehensive social media campaign by putting focusing on the three major stages we talked about:
1. Proper building blocks
2. Blueprint
3. Building a foundation
Social media marketing is a powerful tool so make sure you get the most out of it.

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