It has been obvious for some time that social networking and social media sites have become a crucial segment of the Internet marketing mix.
In the past, when web sites have soared in popularity overnight unless they were directly related to your industry or business, you didn’t necessarily have to concern yourself with them. But when sites like YouTube and MySpace and Twitter become sensations, you have to pay attention because of social interaction is at the core of what they are.
When people are allowed to socialize, they congregate. They form groups around something they share; geography, race, gender, an interest. They form, frankly, targeted demographic groups. The beauty of the social networking sites are that you can find your targeted audience with relative ease.
It is important to have a presence on these sites because they are what Steve Rubel has called, centers of online gravity. They are online destinations where masses of people hang out.
While developing a presence at these sites can have ancillary search marketing benefits (Google, for example, is now including YouTube videos directly embedded within their search results), in the long run it is probably more important to focus on building your own audience and/or community on these sites.
Social networking sites, however, are a different animal. They require an understanding of the culture of the site and engagement with the community: Conversation.
Get to know the social networking site if you have not yet done so. If their main purpose is a place to share content like YouTube and Flickr, then think about what assets you can use that would be of value to those communities.
If the site is more focused on interaction, such as MySpace, then interact. The important things are to be transparent and discuss thing with people don’t talk at them.