Social networking – the what and where of business social network marketing
So far I have mostly focused on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook where you can set up profiles and cultivate networking connections. Blogging, IM and Tweeting and other interactive and public-publishing and commenting resources are important too, but for now I will focus on the pure networking sites. And I did leave that open question yesterday with the issue of finding the right sites to be on and actively involved with. My general answer to that is going to sound a lot like marketing analysis and for a good reason – it is.
What are the demographic groups you seek to connect with, and do business with? What are their characteristics and where can you best find information about them? From that information where are they active online and are they both passively browsing and reading a la Web 1.0 or are they interacting as in 2.0 as well?
Ask where you can for information from current and prospective customers. If you Look online using the search features for the major social networking sites to find at least numbers of people who work in specific industries and for specific companies, live in specific areas … dividing out segments according to criteria that work for you.
You have to be at least a third degree connection to someone to see their name in a LinkedIn search, with first degree your direct connections, second people who are connected to your first degree connections directly but not to you and so on. But you do not have to see any particular names when you are able to develop effective business intelligence at a more statistical level and this is largely a numbers game for knowing if you are looking at the right site for you.
Check with alumni and professional associations and other third party groups and organizations that the people you want to reach are likely connected too and ask about their member demographics. Get creative in this.
Join online groups and focus on the ones that appear to mesh with your target demographics for postings and even LinkedIn lets you see the name of someone you are not connected to in a search if you enter their specific name in that search. This means you can check the profiles of people who put up postings that connect with your interests, and use that collected knowledge to enrich your business intelligence and your demographic targeting.
This does involve work, but the important point is that if you do it effectively you do not spend a lot of time on unfocused, wasted efforts.
When you attend meetings, seminars, programs and the like ask people where they network online. The people you are trying to reach who would be receptive to you will tell you and probably exchange online networking connections with you too.
As I write this I find myself thinking about profile content, and cross-channel marketing, and about performance metrics and validating the effectiveness of your business social networking efforts and a lot of other issues – subjects for other postings and ones I will get to.