Social media has added a dimension to marketing that was previously not available and it does provide the opportunity for greater connection with your customers, partners and others where you can build and strengthen relationships. It is also important to remember that marketing with social media does take time, so take it slowly, learn and then become more involved or not.
For me, all marketing revolves around your customer so what I like about being a member of BizSugar is that it is totally targeted. Our customers are small businesses and BizSugar is a social news site for small businesses. It has depth with articles on all aspects that are important to a small business so I can not only share my news but learn as well. BizSugar also has a very friendly feel which is what I want from a networking site.
How do you think niche social networking sites compare with larger sites like Digg, del.icio.us or StumbleUpon and why might people wish to choose them instead of or to augment the larger sites for their marketing needs?
It depends on what you are wanting to achieve, the time you have and ultimately the involvement of your customers in each of these sites. As a small business, your time is precious so the more targeted you can be with your marketing efforts the better results you will achieve. It is important not to think of large numbers which of course the larger sites have, instead think of the depth of the community involvement which niche sites enjoy as this will return a higher investment for your business.
Also by their very nature of being niche, you will find the community members have a lot more in common than the larger sites so it is easier to build relationships over time.
What tips could you offer other users of BizSugar or other niche social networking sites in terms of the best ways to participate and get the most out of the social media experience?
The first tip is to conduct some research in terms of looking at a number of social networking sites, the people and companies involved and the tone of the site. Then look at where you can add value and what you can get out of participating to build relationships.
The second tip is to start slowly and learn as you become more involved. Don’t expect to be new best friends with others in the community after one posting or comment. As with all relationships it takes time and you need to remember why you want to be involved.
The third tip is to have an open mind and remember that we can all learn from each other. Although I have been in marketing for a long time, I still like to learn from others as they can give me a different perspective and can spark ideas that I have not thought of.
Above all, enjoy the experience as you can meet people in different countries and areas of business. The last point, however, is don’t be what I call a party hopper, flitting from one site to the next and never developing a level of involvement that is worthwhile and long term.