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Are You Socializing Your Business into Obscurity?

Posted on 4.06.2009

: By Mike Phillips :

Sometimes networking as a Web professional can feel a lot like being a politician running for office. Plenty of travel is involved, even if it’s browser-based, and stump speeches need to be written and tweaked ever so slightly to fit the audience. Then they need to be delivered. Drop a link here, submit a press release there, and try to make a few hundred friends along the way.

Like any successful political campaign, effective networking takes time — lots and lots of time. As any social marketing expert will tell you, participation is required to be truly successful. And once you realize how much time it really takes, you might wonder how in the world wide Web you’re going to find all that time.

If you’ve made some inroads into the popular social networks of the day, you know what it’s like to spend hours looking for the right connections; those who will help you gain exposure to the “in’s” of the particular portal. Or, like many, you might find that you’ve already spent considerable time trying to make friends, only to see the fruits of your labor reduced to a junk mail folder filled with unwanted email every time someone wants you to vote on their story. All the while, your business is suffering.

The truth is most of these networks provide a disproportionate amount of value to the time spent pounding the virtual pavement. It’s time to take a long, hard look at your networking objectives and determine if it’s getting in the way of your business goals. That includes sifting through your analytics and looking at conversion rates, time-onsite, bounce rates, exit rates and more, for the traffic coming from these sites.

Another truth is that many of these networks will fade into obscurity within months or years. At that time, so will most of your hard-earned connections. However, just like a politician needs to carry vital swing states during a campaign, the Web professional needs to have a real presence in some of the Web’s biggest networks. The two with arguably the widest reach and greatest momentum are currently Facebook and Twitter, respectively. According to Facebook’s press page, the network has more than 175 million active users and more than 3 billion minutes are spent on the network each day worldwide. Twitter is growing at an astronomical rate, nearly doubling its traffic from January to February alone, now with more than 8 million unique page views per month.

Experienced politicians know there are some states they just can’t win. So, their efforts are scaled back greatly to conserve their energy for the important battlegrounds. It’s no different for the Web professional. Reports regularly surface about how some social networks are “gamed,” benefiting only those who know how to work the system to their benefit. Let them keep their game. Your game is your business, and you play for keeps.

If you focus on your business objectives, your products and your services, the crowd will follow. In fact, there’s no better way to gain exposure on a network than letting someone else do it for you. Let the voracious social networkers submit your content and get their friends to vote it up for you. What’s important is that they can find it. Chances are, if they can find it, so can the search engines. And that’s even more important.

If you decide that social networking is a must for your business, make your presence where you stand to reap the greatest rewards. If you’re not tech-specific, skip Sphinn. If you don’t cater to the younger crowd, take a pass on MySpace.

Social networks are notorious time-sinks. You need to have a presence out there, but it’s more important to focus on your company. After all, if your business falls behind or worse, fails, nobody is going to want to be friends with you anyway.



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