Larry Brauner
Web marketing to me is entirely about building up both social capital and search equity, nurturing relationships and reputations both with people and with search engines.

In Social Media vs. Search Engine Optimization and in The NEW Search Engine Optimization, I underscore the importance of both social media and search engine optimization and their interdependence. Your web marketing recipe must include plenty of healthy social media and search engine optimization ingredients.

31 Days to Build a Better BlogI also point out in Website vs. Web Presence,  that SEO, social media, relationships and reputation each contribute to the building of a presence on the web. Darren Rouse, the author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, shares in a video his blog-centric approach to web marketing in which social media sites — which aren’t under our complete control — serve as outposts for our blogs and websites, i.e. our home base — which we do control.

I agree with Darren’s point of view and adopted the same approach when I started Online Social Networking 24 months ago. I must stress however, that I have always envisioned search engines providing me with more than enough targeted traffic over time.

A Note of Caution

Many social media enthusiasts are in search of a predetermined blueprint for success. However, beware! One-recipe-feeds-all diners and buffets aren’t for you.

The precise description and proportion of each ingredient must depend upon your objectives, and upon the tastes of all the distinguished guests for whom you’re cooking up this sumptuous but scrumptious feast.

Bon appétit mon ami.

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Larry Brauner

The Case for Social Media Marketing

It is becoming increasingly more difficult and more expensive to reach potential customers using mass media. That’s one reason why so many marketers are turning to Web 2.0 social media marketing.

Not only do marketers want to reduce their advertising expense, they also want to connect more directly with people and learn how to better serve their target market.

Social media marketing is especially attractive to small business owners operating on modest budgets, since most social networking sites and other social media sites are generally free to use.

Steep Learning Curve

They read a story such as Beyond Blogs in the June 2nd issue of Business Week, and they rush off to embrace Web 2.0 social media unprepared for the steep learning curve that lies ahead.

The social media landscape is uncharted and sprawling. Social media sites are vying for your attention, and searching the Internet for advice turns up sharply conflicting recommendations.

Need for Mentor

Clearly you need a mentor, somebody smart and knowledgeable with especially strong communication skills. You should find somebody with whom you feel comfortable, because you’ll definitely be getting to know each other. Picking a mentor is difficult.

Effective Communication #1 Challenge

Once you find your mentor mastering essential social media marketing skills will be difficult. To get fully up to speed might take a year or even longer.

That is the bad news.

In my opinion, the hardest part of social media marketing training is learning effective communication, i.e., to write, speak, listen and persuade well and in a professional manner.

There are certainly plenty of technical challenges to overcome, but by far communication is the chief obstacle new social media marketers face. If you happen to have the right mix of communication skills, you’re way ahead of most newcomers.

Your mentor can teach you personal and business branding, online social networking, blogging, video marketingsocial bookmarking, SEO and other important skills. He or she can also critique your communication style, but it will be you who will connect directly with your target market and build vital business relationships.

Get Started Now and Learn as You Go

Now the good news.

You don’t have to master every skill, dot every “i” and cross every “t” before getting started.

Find a good mentor to guide you, jump in and get your feet wet. Learn by doing.

As Mike Litman always says: “You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going.”

Your results will serve as feedback to help you to make the necessary corrections along the way… and that is good news.

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Larry BraunerEven people who don’t go online and don’t understand social networking have heard of MySpace or Facebook, names that might conjure up fears of predators or identity theft.

However, that’s not my point.

My point is that MySpace and Facebook are so much talked about that they have pretty much become household names, and serious business networkers have or ought to have a presence at MySpace, Facebook and Linked In — and at other major social networking sites.

Many of the important online networking sites are listed for your convenience:

There are also industry specific sites. For example if your business is real estate related, consider joining ActiveRain Real Estate Network and Wanna Network, if you don’t already belong.

To find business networking sites specific to any industry, try plugging the industry name and the words “networking sites” into your favorite search engine.

But wait, the story doesn’t end here.

Smaller and newer business networking sites also deserve to be included in your online portfolio. After all, less can be more.

When Diane Hochman Zigs, I Zag

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman, the founder and director of My Private Classroom for Marketers, often instructs, “Don’t Follow the Flock”. When others are zigging, you zag.

Diane is a Web 2.0 social media rock star. Many people follow her every move. They go where she goes. They do what she does. They zig when she zigs, and they zag when she zags.

People like Diane Hochman and Mike Dillard have their own flocks. Since I don’t want to follow the flock, nor live in somebody’s shadow, when Diane and Mike zig, I zag.

When they’re hanging at Facebook and Twitter, I’m chillin’ at one of the newer smaller sites such as Sta.rtUp.biz, a site that caters to small business entrepreneurs, or Natural Networkers, a social networking site for proponents of attraction marketing.

I might also be list building at Direct Matches or schmoozing at Yuwie, since they are not.

I think you get the general idea. It fits in with my online social networking strategy and my personal branding strategy. It’s common sense. I have plenty of room to maneuver.

You too might be best off charting a different course than your competition or industry leaders.

Choosing Business Networking Sites

There are many possible criteria for choosing business sites. However, at the end of the day it’s largely a matter of trial and error.

Nevertheless, let me share a few of my considerations with you. Perhaps I’ll share more in a future blog post.

Some social networking sites are funded by membership fees, some by advertising, and some by a combination of the two. I mainly prefer advertising supported sites. I’m not typically reaching out to a very elite crowd.

I do admit, I was a paid Executive Member at Direct Matches for three years. I highly valued the package of services they provided, and I appreciated Bill Weber’s personal touch. You can join Direct Matches for free.

I don’t pay to use any social networking sites at the present time. All the networking sites I use are either ad supported or offer free memberships that I find suitable.

Some networking sites make it easier to connect than others. I like to reach out to a large audience and prefer sites that make it easy for me to do that.

I like to be able to browse and add friends or contacts by demographic characteristics or by geographic location. When sites offer that option, it’s great. When they don’t, I look to a site’s groups or clubs to find people in my target market.

I recommend that you explore Ning social networking sites. While they do not support demographic browsing, but they are nevetheless very useful for business networking.

Short Lived Networking Feature

Some new social networking sites let me send mail to all my contacts or to all members of groups to which I belong. I love this capability and use it effectively without abusing or spamming.

I like to let lots of people know about my new blog posts. If I didn’t have a blog, I’d send links to useful information and thereby build my relationship with fellow members.

Unfortunately, as a networking site grows, spammers inevitably move in and ruin it for everybody. It’s impossible to keep a step ahead of them, so all sites eventually limit or eliminate this wonderful feature.

Don’t Let Spammers Ruin Your Day

I don’t like spammers and wish they’d stick with safelists or classified ads, but I don’t let them ruin my day, nor do I let them dissuade me from using any particular social networking site.

If I can cope with tailgaters and drivers who cut me off on the highway, I can surely cope with spammers.

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Larry Brauner

Blogging and Personal Branding

Personal blogs and business blogs often factor into the marketing mix of both large and small businesses.

Blogging is interactive and enables direct communication with the customer or end user, a subtle form of business networking.

Blogging as a form of networking is not as direct as attending a meeting of a chamber of commerce or a small business association — nor does it replace online social networking at social networking sites. However, it builds credibility while refining and reinforcing the blogger’s personal or corporate brand image.

Search Engine Optimization

As I stated in Top Reasons Why I Blog, “Blogging endears me to the search engines.”

Search engines love to deliver fresh content to their clientele, and that’s what blogs are all about. Each blog post creates new content for search engines such as Google to sink their teeth into.

Search engines send visitors. Some of those visitors become readers and bond with the blogger and his or her company or cause.

Make Money Blogging

This bond presents opportunities.

For example, when bloggers are looking directly to monetize their blogs, as is very often the case in the world of blogs, their readers are often redirected to another site or to a sales page to purchase an endorsed product or service.

This transition is easy once a trusting relationship has been created between blogger and reader.

To learn how to make money blogging, my previous post, Blogs and Blogging for Fun and Profit, is a good place to start.

We’ll continue to explore the relationship between blogging and search engine marketing.

Be sure to visit the Blog Marketing and SEO Training page.

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Larry Brauner

More Critical Success Factors

In my previous post, The Go-Giver, I discussed a new book, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, which introduces The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success. These laws pertain primarily to the relationships essential to business and life success.

In another favorite post, 10 Simple Success Strategies, I suggested techniques for coping with day-to-day challenges.

In this post I want to present four laws of success that are psychological, spiritual and metaphysical in nature.

  1. The Law of Belief. Our motivation and how we act is determined by our underlying beliefs. If we don’t believe that something is possible, we won’t even try to make it happen. Please listen to a conference call I recorded on 8/22/07 that illustrates this concept.
  2. The Law of Expectation. This is briefly mentioned in the second chapter of The Go-Giver. Our subconscious minds manifest that which we focus on.
  3. The Law of Attraction. This is the essence of The Secret book and video. The universe manifests that which we focus on. This is the spiritual or metaphysical counterpart of the Law of Expectation.
  4. The Law of Appreciation. By recognizing the good in our lives, we show the universe that we’re ready to attract and receive more good. Appreciation accelerates the re-ordering of things and events in the universe, so that good comes to us easily and swiftly.

It’s The Law of Belief that determines how we think, what we focus on, how we act. It determines everything!

Belief is the missing ingredient without which all great ideas, books and courses change nothing. And that’s why all the fantastic personal development books have little or no effect on our lives. Our belief systems are strongly entrenched, and we are unable to assimilate and integrate what we learn.

There is hope, however, as I’ll explain soon in a future post. I promise.

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Larry Brauner

This is the absolute most imporatant law of networking online AND offline. Try to violate it, and your efforts will lead to frustration.

Nobody cares what you say until they know that you care.

Many marketers join social networking sites, add lots of friends and blast them with offers. Recipients click on delete quicker than you or I can say “spiced ham”, and the senders are left scratching their heads. If only they knew the importance of building relationships.

It’s all about relationships — the core of everything good in life. We’ll discuss relationships in subsequent posts, but for now let me suggest this one thing. Put your online social networking time to good use. Get to know people!

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