Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Rules of Social Marketing (Guerrilla) Engagement

Editor's Note: Today I have a special guest blogger with some terrific insight for every writer. I hope you enjoy Wendy's article as much as I did. Terry

By Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA

As the social media landscape grows with mainstream and niche sites, so will the innovative ways to get marketing messages to members of these social media sites.
However, before you starting posting away with your guerrilla marketing tactics, it's good to keep in mind my 10 rules of social marketing engagement:

1. Be aware.
Know each social media community's law of the land. Each network, forum, blog, chat room, and bulletin board has its own set of rules that you are required to abide by as a member. Read the rules and stick to them. If the site has a specific area for promotional or marketing messages, keep your posts of this nature restricted to those areas. If rules dictate what type of messages are allowed (such as no overtly self serving, defamatory, illegal, elici
t, or pornographic material), follow the rules. Any deviation will prompt a warning by the site's moderator or a ban from the site.

2. Be active.
Don't just go in a few times and hit members with your marketing message. Get involved. Participate in discussions. Interact with members. Read and respond to engaging posts with no hidden agenda.

3. Be relevant. Make sure you're posting in areas of the site that are relevant to the topic you're discussing. Many forums have segmented subareas by category and interest level. This helps the members easily find the topics they're interested in and keeps you from muddying the waters in unrelated areas of the site.

4. Be genuine.
Let the conversations flow organically. Contribute real, thought-provoking comments that members will find interesting.

5. Be useful.
As a member, your goal is to participate in intelligent, useful discussions. Make sure you're adding value to the site in some way. Your comments should also be valuable to the reader and not random posts. Nothing gets under members' skin more than messages that appear to be blatant spam.

6. Be subtle.
Don't overlink. Many marketers embed their entire message with URLs to whatever page they're trying to drive traffic to. Less is more here. Some sites even have rules about not allowing links in the body copy of a post, but keeping them only in the auto signature field where your username is. Links should be relevant to the post (such as a great article that you want to share with members-then enclose the link so they can read for themselves). Use links sparingly.

7. Be balanced.
Mix up your messages. Don't just go into a site and start spamming away with your marketing messages. Go in. Hang out for a few weeks. Get to really know the members and the site. See which areas of the site have topics and discussions that vibe with you. Mix up your posts. Find balance with the editorial and marketing messages you're posting. The idea is to provide value and engage. If you overmarket, it will be transparent, and you'll be labeled a "shill." That will affect your credibility with other members.

8. Be informative.
Don't limit your article uploads or links to your own publication. Be aware of what's happening in your area of interest. Be able to have intelligent discussions about different news, events, and publications under your subject matter. If you see other related articles that you think members would find interesting-even material from other publishers -share the knowledge. After all, that's ultimately what social media is about.

9. Be personable.
Develop relationships with the community on both a "friend" and an expert level for your area of specialty. Let your personality and credentials shine through with the information you share. Offer free expert advice. Share funny stories. Have witty discussions. Start to truly develop a memorable presence and bond with the community.

10. Be respectful.
Don't spam your fellow members. Many social communities (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) post user email addresses on their Profile page. This leads to a flurry of unsolicited emails to the unsuspecting user from social networking barracudas that use this personal information for their own self-serving purposes. Remember, just because an email is posted on a user's profile page doesn't mean that person opted in to receive solicitations, promotions, or similar email communications. Sending unwanted and unsolicited emails is spam, plain and simple. Don't exploit community members' personal information.

Wendy Montes de Oca, M.B.A., has a diversified background that includes nearly 20 years of
experience in marketing, media, financial services, and law. She has a proven track record with both acquisition and retention efforts, as well as has both editorial and copywriting success. Her specialties include multichannel marketing (print, Web, email, direct mail, radio, and TV), with expertise in Internet marketing. You can learn more at: Precision Marketing Media.com

Excerpt From
Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales,Leads and Buzz By Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA [Que Publishing, Paperback]
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