(Editor's Note: The circle is now complete. When Tiffany Dow started ghostwriting for some of the top marketers on the Net, she was but the learner. Now she is the master. Shawn Hessinger, blogger-in-chief at PostRanger.com talks to this Web marketing Jedi about the ways of the Internet!)
1. First, can you define social marketing for us? What is it? What isn't it? Is all social marketing online and is all Internet marketing social?
I can definitely say that all Internet marketing isn’t social because it’s only been in the last couple of years that the social element has begun influencing consumer habits. We used to have a lot of static web pages that told us information and provided an order button. Many had no way to contact the site owner or communicate with other online users about the product or information.
Social marketing is when you use the same persuasive tools – sales copy, for example – but you add in the ability for your prospects and customers to interact with you in some way. This might be in the form of blog or guestbook comments or direct messages and emails.
I believe many marketers mistakenly believe that social marketing is just marketing on social sites, while still keeping the door of communication closed to the public. This is the least effective way to build a solid reputation and following in the world of web 2.0.
To me, social marketing is using web 2.0 sites to provide valuable information and interaction with prospects which in turn result in sales conversions and increased branding ability.
2. What are your favorite social marketing tools and why? Which are your least favorite?
My favorites are Squidoo (of course), Twitter, Google Knol, WordPress, and FriendFeed. All of these allow open marketing, are easy for tech-challenged individuals like me to master, and help you with ranking in the Google search engine.
My least favorites would have to be Hub Pages, MySpace, and Facebook. I use all three, but they have restrictions such as the number of links you can use, how you can use the site to market to others and how many followers you can have.
3. What's the difference between driving traffic to your site, driving the right kind of traffic and seeing to it that some of that traffic converts into sales?
When I first got into Internet marketing, I thought it was all about volume, period. But I quickly learned that a smaller, more tightly focused stream of traffic converted into far more sales and repeat buyers.
When you utilize social networks, it helps you generate the right kind of traffic to your site because you can categorize it in some way. On Squidoo for example, you choose the category. But even on a site like Twitter, you build a list of followers who choose to tune into your 140-character messages because they have an interest in what you’re promoting or discussing.
4. What are some key questions a person should ask themselves before trying to make a career in online social marketing?
Here are the most important ones for me:
a.) Are you willing to receive questions, comments and feedback from people about your products or services?
b.) Can you provide enough valuable information to your readers to ensure they would feel fulfilled even if they left your web 2.0 page without purchasing anything more from you?
c.) Do you comprehend the difference between social marketing with good content and hard selling, which should never be used in a web 2.0 environment?
5. What do you think are some of the key factors that lead to a social marketer being truly successful as opposed to earning a little extra money for beer or the oil bill? How should an online social marketer measure success?
Social marketing is most successful when you created a high volume of really good pages, entries or posts. That doesn’t mean slap something together and hope it converts. Build momentum and connect the pages for increased exposure.
Those who let their readers get to know the person behind the entries tend to create more of a following and get personal recommendations from a core audience of targeted buyers.
The best advice I can give is don’t use social networking sites as your litterbox for sales copy. This is a place for you to roll out the red carpet and give five star service to your reader in the hopes they’ll become a loyal customer for the long-term.
(Tiffany Dow spent five years as a ghostwriter for some of the biggest online marketers in the industry before applying what she had learned to her own social Web marketing endeavors, according to the biography on her information packed blog at TiffanyDow.com. She is the proprietor of sites like socialmarketingjunkie.com offering products for the social marketer online.)
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