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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Web Marketing Is Social Media Marketing

In a way, blog marketing is a form of social media marketing. That is, some bloggers develop their own lively blog communities that resemble the topic-oriented communities that are part and parcel of many social networks.

Social networking, of course, is the latest and greatest thing online. (Or at least it is now; something later and greater will come along soon, I'm sure.) A social network is a website or service that lets users of various types connect with each other to share what they're doing. People create groups of "friends" or "followers" that they connect with; this connection is typically in the form of short messages or status updates.

Today, Facebook is the preeminent social networking site; it's de rigueur for a company or organization to create its own page on Facebook and sign up loyal customers as fans. You can then update your customers on new products, promotions, and other activities by posting status updates to your Facebook page.

Twitter is also a big deal, although it's more of a micro-blogging service than a social network. That is, you really don't have a company page, as you do on Facebook; all you do is post short (140-character) updates, or "tweets," that are then received by those customers who choose to follow you. You use these tweets to keep your customers updated on what you're doing and what you have to offer.

The other big social networking site is MySpace, although it's not as important as it used to be—unless you're an entertainer. For musicians, comics, actors, and the like, MySpace is the place to be. (Musicians can even sell their music directly from their MySpace pages, which makes it a blend of social networking and online music store.) Depending on the type of business you're in, MySpace may or may not make sense for your web marketing mix.

Then there are the big multi-player videogames that create their own virtual worlds online. Second Life, in particular, has its own virtual economy; you can set up shop in the Second Life world to advertise or even sell your products. It sounds odd, but this sort of immersive reality is more than just a graphical version of the old-fashioned chat room; it's a valid and viable marketing vehicle for many businesses.

The key with any type of social marketing, however, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Second Life, is participation. These sites are really nothing more than large online communities, and you need to be an active participant if you're going to make it work for you. You just can't put up a static page and expect that to do the job; you have to constantly post updates and other information of interest to community members. You also need to interact with members of the community by visiting and posting to their pages and discussions. People will follow you on these social networks, but only if you also follow them. It's a give and take sort of thing, just like life in a real-world community.

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