By Kevin Gault
There’s Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace, not to mention FaceBook, Digg, Flickr and Zooomr. Social-media websites have eye-catching names and they’re a great way to get the attention of prospective customers. But you’ve got to know how to use them.
Chris Garrett (www.chrisg.com), co-author of Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, an expert on the business of new media, blogging and online marketing, can tell you how. Chris, whose many specialties include new media industry commentator, writer, coach, speaker and trainer, thinks that white paper writers and marketers can benefit greatly from social media.
“Social media are a way for people to connect with each other, often on a very large scale, so they’re a super-efficient means of spreading a message,” he says. “White papers, of course, are a way to spread your company’s message. Combine the two and you take an already fantastic strategy and make it even more powerful.”
Get a Good Start
With so many social media websites to choose from, where do you start? Chris recommends starting with LinkedIn and Twitter to get a feel for how social media sites work. He cautions that using social media can be addicting and a time drain if you’re not careful. He advises allocating a block of time to spend on the sites, then logging out.
Chris offers these other tips for white paper writers and marketers:
* Find out where prospects for your white papers—and your business—hang out. Use Google, ask clients and read blogs to get this information.
* Get to know the culture of the social site—each has a unique focus, code of behavior and set of rules.
* Reap benefits by creating value. You’ll get a payoff when people know you as a giving member of the community who contributes valuable information. Mention your white papers later.
* Pick your battles. Choose social media venues based on where your prospects are and how much time you have. For example, few people will gain traction on Digg right away, even if their business directly relates to the Digg audience.
Chris says there are common mistakes to avoid. “Too many folks go in with a ‘promo’ attitude,” he explains. “If you use the analogy that social networking is a party, these types burst in uninvited, knock over the canapés and shout with a bullhorn about their great deals! Nothing turns off members of a community more than that.”
Put Other People First
“Another mistake is being ‘all about me’—thinking that everyone else shares your interest in your business. Actually, in most cases, nobody truly cares about your business. You have to connect what you want to talk about with what other people need, are interested in or want to know about. The topics of your white papers must match their interests, not just yours.”
Social media is about sharing, not promotion and competition. Review and vote on other people’s sites first, then ask people to vote on yours. Using that approach, you could get thousands of new visitors. Share and make yourself useful, and you’ll reap benefits.