Social Media – The New Playground

I first heard about social media marketing (“SMM”) about 2 years ago, as a paying subscriber to Stomper.Net Internet marketing training. The StomperNet faculty, combined, had earned hundreds of millions of dollars using search engine, pay-per-click and affiliate techniques to drive website traffic. I found their expertise genuine and trustworthy. And, I demanded expertise for the US$ 800 per month subscription fee I was paying.

Part of the Internet marketing training included a number of DVDs teaching SMM (circa 2007). At the time, the trainers insisted that social media marketing must be mastered as soon as possible. Because, they claimed, only about a 1 year window of opportunity existed before masses of people caught on to the unfair marketing advantage provided by social media.

So, we learned about social networking, bookmarking, photo-sharing, video-sharing, microblogging and each of the proven strategies effective for using social media to the advantage of our client’s product promotion.

Fast-forward to 2009. Social media is the buzz phrase. Everyone wants a piece. Companies want blogs. Consultants live on twitter. Multi-level marketers eat digg. The good, bad and ugly have got on-board. Just last month, 14,800 searches were done on for the phrase “social media.”

But, SMM is a virtual minefield. Every social media site has its unique rules, culture and policy governing usage. Google must be tweaking its algorithm to account for SMM spamming efforts. And, pushing your brand out to as many social media sites as possible can backfire – causing irreversible damage to a corporate online presence: memorialized to the permanent archives of our trusted servant, the search engine.

My recommendation, for those wanting to use SMM as part of the marketing mix, is to tread carefully.

First, try:

learning about the different categories of social media
signing up for just a handful of the most popular social media websites
playing around for a few months and getting a feel for the cultural norms

Then, engage an Internet marketing expert to develop a precise campaign for you or your company. Then, you can proceed without the blinders on.

Happy marketing. Well, really, it’s now “happy engaging.”