Last week, I was at a meeting held by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, a Boston-based advocacy group for technology companies, where I picked up some tips on social networking from front liners in the trenches.
At the session I met three social media practitioners and one theorist. The theorist is Dan Kennedy who is an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. I also met Perry Allison, the VP of Social Networking Innovations at EONS, a large community for Baby Boomers founded by Jeff Taylor (former CEO of Monster.com); Pam Johnson, VP of Member Experiences at Gather, another very large social network for adults; and Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, the folks that built Websitegrader.
One comment that really grabbed me came from Halligan of Hubspot who said, “People don’t need marketing anymore.” What Halligan means is that the way we market is changing dramatically and the old ways are becoming less effective.
Historically we hit tradeshows, did seminars, built a "house" email list, spammed that list endlessly, hired telemarketers, did TV and radio spots, etc. Today, we can be more effective with alternative methods and strategies.
Here’s a summary list of these new approaches with themes and tips I heard during the session:
1. Create remarkable content. Links are the currency of the Internet. Think NYC. Links are like lots of train stations, airports, bus terminals, subways, and a zillion other means of getting to your destination from the world outside.
2. Build content-based communities. Transform your Website from a brochure to a vibrant community.
3. Hit a thousand points of light. Publish your content everywhere that matters -- Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or wherever your target audience hangs.
4. Optimize. Make your content search engine- and social media-friendly with easy "scanability" of titles and URLs.
5. Publicize. Give your community ways to help you market. Make your community a hub with spokes to different "watering holes" (e.g., have a Twitter button, Digg button, Facebook Connect link, etc.).
6. Measure. New measurements are required. For example, measure not just site visitors but the sum of email lists, RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, LinkedIn Group members, Youtube followers, etc.
7. Mind your Twitter do’s and don’ts. Don’t use Twitter just to reproduce RSS feeds, and don’t talk at followers. Do offer something different, do cultivate a unique voice, and do follow others (don’t just be followed).
8. Bring value to the community. If you're an advertiser, give people something to do (e.g., brain games, contests, or projects), listen, be authentic and transparent, respond, and listen some more.
9. Become a community influencer. Cultivate your status in the community and become a trusted source. Don’t just be a "peer" -- become a "super-peer."
10. Know your goals and pick your spots. Understand where you are going and the audience you’re trying to reach. Social media is not appropriate for every application, and the ROI won’t always be there.
— David Vellante is a co-founder of ITCentrix, Barometrix, and The Wikibon Project
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