Larry BraunerMarketing is often as important to people as it is to businesses.

People seeking jobs, marriage partners or buyers for their personal property all need to target and reach out to their respective markets.

Social Media is Very Accessible

Old media such as TV, radio, print, mail — and even online advertising — tend to be very costly and are used most effectively by big corporations and by savvy direct marketers.

However, the new media such as blogging, video, online social networking and social bookmarking cost little or nothing to use and are as accessible to people and small businesses as they are to big corporations and direct marketers.

Ineffective Use of Social Media

The low out-of-pocket cost of the new media entices people and businesses to waste time and energy by using social media marketing more haphazardly and less rigorously than they would use more expensive old media marketing channels.

Many marketers further compound the problem by bringing to social media old media advertising and prospecting paradigms rather than a new media attracting, socializing and educating paradigms.

Marketers need to learn how to focus their social media efforts by applying rigorous standards and analytics to new media marketing campaigns.

Reaching the Right Audience

One way to focus your social media effort is through targeting. Simply put, targeting means reaching the right people, the people who can benefit from you, your product or your service.

Market segmentation is a form of targeting research that studies the characteristics and desires of different population segments. I assume for now that you know — at least approximately — whom you wish to target, and that you want to be able to tackle the how part of the problem.

Competitive Intelligence

Professional marketers, especially direct marketers, study what their competition is — and is not — doing in great detail. They may also try to understand why the competition is doing what it does, and if a campaign is used over and over, they’ll will assume that the campaign is profitable.

Watch your competitors and you’ll learn how they position themselves, what they write about, what keywords they optimize, where they bookmark their content, what tags they use, and much more.

Competitive intelligence applies equally to old and new media marketing.

Top Targeting Strategies

Here are my favorite targeting strategies:

  • Develop good content that is context sensitive, communicates who you are, what you do and how you might be different — all without reading like a sales letter.
  • Do keyword research, so that while you write for people, you can also help the search engines, as much of your traffic will come from search engines, especially form Google.
  • Fish where the fish are. Choose social networking sites that you believe attract the people you are looking to attract. If you find your competitors there, that can be a good thing. It indicates that your target audience is also there. Hopefully your content positions you in a way that you’ll stand out from the competition or address a need that they do not.
  • Cast a wide net. Don’t prejudge too much. Err on the side of targeting too inclusively rather than too exclusively. Participate on a variety of sites and expose as many people as possible to both you and your message. If you know me, you know that I pursue this strategy on Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning social networks.
  • Let people decide for themselves how relevant your content is and whether or not you might be able to help them. That’s an key element of both attraction and social marketing.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. Read The 80/20 Rule and Social Media. Cast a wide net but not too wide.
  • Get personal. Even if you’re a business, people will want to relate to you as a person. In social media you are an integral part of your brand.
  • Experiment and be ready to adapt and make changes as you go. Marketers know that they’re not likely to get it right the first time, so consider everything you do to be a work in progress.
  • Establish an ongoing social media presence. Be persistent. Timing is extremely important. Even if somebody is the right person, the time might be wrong for him or her. You will make a sale if you’re there when the time is right.
  • Use old media to supplement and complement your new media. Just because you use social media, you need not abandon any old media marketing that’s working for you.
  • Seek help if you don’t have all the expertise or writing skills you need to succeed. That help might include advice, project management or outsourcing.

This list is not intended to be complete. However, it should give you plenty of food for thought.

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Larry Brauner

List building today isn’t the exclusive domain of autoresponders.

Sure, a reliable autoresponder is still a vital tool if you’re marketing on the Internet. However, online social networking and friend lists ought to weigh more heavily in your permission based marketing strategy.

I started realizing this in 2006 when I first joined MySpace. I noticed how much richer and more effective the two-way communication of social networking sites was than the ongoing monologue associated with e-mail marketing.

I always encourage my e-mail contacts to write me back, but few actually do. And I never learn enough about them, unless of course they choose to join me on MySpace, Facebook, Yuwie or one of the other online networking venues I frequent.

There is another big reason to incorporate online social networking in your online marketing repertoire.

Consider the ease with which you can add thousands of friends on MySpace compared to the cost and difficulty of building your autoresponder list. Whether you use one of the “friend adders” and risk suspension of your profile by the networking site owner, or whether you add friends manually, it’s still much more straightforward to build a permission based marketing list through social networking than it is using more conventional opt-in list building techniques.

I myself do both. I add new subscribers to my autoresponders on a regular basis and simultaneously add new contacts to my friend lists on LinkedIn, MySpace and Yuwie. I have a good reason for doing so.

Not withstanding my previous remarks, it’s easier for me to broadcast a message on demand to my opt-in list than it is to my social networking friends.

Most people check their e-mail at least once a day. If they want to hear from me, they will.

If I post a bulletin on MySpace they can easily miss it. I have to post it several times each day to keep it “on top”. And if they don’t log in, or even worse, if they’ve abandoned their profile, they won’t see the message at all.

So why should you put all your eggs in one basket? Diversify. E-mail people and contact them through multiple sites and through multiple channels on each site to maximize your message delivery and response rate.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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Larry Brauner Let me restate my first law of social networking from my previous post.

Law Number 1: Nobody cares what you say until they know that you care.

Once sombody knows that you care they will listen. However, they will listen with one — and only one — question in mind and that is, “What’s in it for me?”

That’s how people listen. You might say that their favorite radio station is WII-FM, “What’s in it for me?”

If you’re marketing a product or service, just about the worst thing you can do is discuss it’s features. Your listener’s reaction will generally be, “So what?” And that’s not good.

You are much better off talking about benefits than features. Discussing benefits answers in advance the “so what” question.

You will be best off if you can get to know what’s important to each person and discuss only the benefits that are relevant to that person. You will connect with his or her desires in a meaningful way, and your success is likely.

Therefore, when you meet a new person you should focus on learning what’s important to that person. Not only will he feel that you care, he will also relate to you those things that matter most to him — and now my friend you’re on the right track!

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