Larry BraunerThere are two common reasons that you and your business might not be ready yet to take advantage of social media marketing.

It’s possible that you do not yet have a suitable website or blog site to be the hub of your social media marketing and to convert your traffic. Darren Rowse, the author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, in his video, How I Use Social Media to Promote My Blogs, explains why you’d want one:

It’s also possible that you haven’t yet created even a rough social media and web marketing plan to work with.

You’ll need to outline your marketing objectives, of course. You’ll also need to specify to whom you’re marketing and determine which subject areas are appropriate to discuss.

Then, you’ll plan a course of action that encompasses your websites, content and social sites prior to launching your social media marketing campaign.

Are you ready for social media marketing?

Larry BraunerSocial media has reinvented the Internet, just as search had 15 years ago. We reflect, and we can perceive endless uses for social media. Nevertheless, social media is limited. Sadly, much of social media doesn’t really work.

The failure of social media has little to do with the technology underpinning it. The technology is exquisite and marvelous innovations emerge each day. If social media success depended entirely on technology, that success would grow exponentially.

Social media involves people. That’s why it’s called social media. Social media success depends upon the people who use it, and that’s a problem. People are socially very limited, and our ability to take instruction, do the right thing, and keep our word is poor, as confirmed by civilization’s track record.

To get more out of social media — and life — we must invest as much in ourselves as we do in technology. If we learn to use social media more correctly, interact more effectively, communicate more honestly and act with greater integrity, our  success  with social media — and our personal relationships — will transform our lives.

Until that occurs, we need to accept that social media doesn’t work, at least not nearly as well as it could.

Larry BraunerReal estate brokers are facing very stiff competition, in part as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis and in part as a result of commoditization.

Real estate itself isn’t a commodity, but many of the brokers who sell real estate, especially residential real estate, have been losing their competitive differentiation in the market, as they are no longer the principal sources of listings and property information. Buyers can more easily obtain listings and detailed property information from online services.

What is Hyper Local Real Estate Marketing?

Real Estate MarketingReal estate brokers have long recognized the importance of keeping a high profile in the neighborhoods they serve and of conveying their neighborhood expertise to prospective buyers.

This approach to real estate marketing, with its neighborhood hyper focus, is frequently referred to as hyper local real estate marketing.

Orchestrating a hyper-local marketing campaign is extremely challenging. However, social media, such as social networking sites, blogs and mobile are making hyper local marketing more feasible and more effective, as well.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the hyper-local real estate marketing concept and have sought ways to help brokers streamline their marketing, overcome technical obstacles and create value for both hyper-local businesses and their customers.

Real Estate and Small Business Marketing Program

I’ve developed an affordable hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program that satisfies all three objectives and creates a win for brokers, hyper local businesses and consumers. The program uses search and social marketing within a supervised online environment and includes marketing and technical support.

Real estate brokers can “own” their neighborhoods in that I will only license the program to one broker or salesperson per hyper local area.

If you’re a forward-thinking real estate broker or salesperson, you can benefit by participating in this real estate marketing program and increasing your influence online and offline.

Contact me to learn more about my new hyper-local real estate and small business marketing program or pose your questions in the comments. :-)

Larry BraunerFindability is the ability of brands and all their associated content to be discovered and interacted with by people.

More simply stated, findability is people’s ability to find and connect with content on websites. To find content, people need to be drawn to websites, and once on those websites, they require guidance finding the desired content.

Web promotion deals with drawing people, and website design with guiding them. Web promotion and website design — or usability — are the principal elements of findability.

Brands can maximize their findability by fine tuning the promotion of their websites and optimizing their websites’ usability, both important functions of a web marketing team or digital marketing agency.

Needless to say, developing high-quality and relevant content is crucial, but without findability, content has no value.

See also my other findability piece: What is Findability Convergence?

Now that you’ve found your way to the end of this findability article, please find the wherewithal to leave a comment about findability and to subscribe to my blog.  ;-)

Larry BraunerI consider traffic, along with time, expertise and influence, to be a basic element of social media monetization.

Traffic is monetized by placing ads or sponsored content on blogs, social networking sites or other types of websites.

For years, I have resisted the idea of monetizing my traffic with commercial ads. To a large extent, I regard my blogs as professional work samples. My concern, therefore, has been the possibility that monetizing my blog traffic with ads might to some degree sully my image.

Last week, however, I accepted an invitation from Technorati Media to join their publisher network and placed their ad tags on my blogs and my business networking sites. I was ready for this change and happy to be getting started with a company I knew and trusted.

Of course, I’m not going to get rich from my social media traffic overnight, but ads give me another income stream that I can grow over time.

I invite you to connect and network with me on my new business sites:

You don’t need your own business to participate.

Larry BraunerI launched my two new business networking sites with several objectives in mind. One key objective was to make available free social media marketing training, as well as other free and low-cost training to a wide small business and entrepreneurial audience.

Register now for free social media marketing training on the Small Business Networking site.

Subjects will include social media marketing, social networking sites, small business websites, blogging, SEO and web analytics.

There will be strong branding opportunities for expert instructors who wish to participate in this free social media marketing training initiative or others on the way. For free social media training, make Small Business Networking your training resource on the web. :)

Larry BraunerSocial media and other types of media revolve around the findability and value of their content.

You could use a newspaper to wrap fish or fragile belongings (ideal), a book as a paperweight (sad), a radio or television program as white noise (even sadder) or a blog to switch to, so that the boss won’t catch you playing FarmVille at work (hopefully not my readers).

Kidding aside, media are published so that their content will be consumed, and social media marketing can only succeed if its content is findable, and if the people finding that content repeatedly consume it.

Am I stating simply the obvious? Perhaps, but consider for a minute the large number of web sites with little traffic and blogs with little traction. Do you not agree that my concern is somewhat justified?

Value and findability of content to and by stakeholders are prerequisites for social media marketing success, and the optimization of each must be at the top of our social media marketing content lists.

Larry BraunerI started this blog, because I wanted to refocus the content of Online Social Networking on social and business networking, yet I still wanted to discuss other topics, such as New York business events, small businesssearch and social media.

Now that I’ve launched two new business networking sites, and both have blogging capabilities, I’m setting up a New York business blog on one site and a small business blog on the other.

In case this post has sounded so far like an Abbot and Costello routine, here’s a simpler breakdown:

You might be wondering whether this article is merely a shameless plug for my new sites. Fortunately for me, there is a takeaway. ;-)

Although we might hope to build a web presence one time and then coast along, adding a blog post here and a social bookmark there, this online strategy isn’t at all feasible. Over time the world, technology and we too change substantially. These changes need to find expression in our web initiatives.

Therefore, since real world and corresponding social media changes are inevitable, we must expect them, accommodate them.. and grow with them.

We must grow with the flow. :-P

Larry BraunerI’ve been working very hard the past couple of weeks and finally launched my two new business networking sites.

A unique aspect of these sites is that they’ll serve to connect offline networking groups, facilitating communication among their group members and attracting new group members online.

These are my new business networking sites:

You don’t need to have a business to join either site. You can join for getting business ideas, searching for a new job or whatever else might make sense.

If you’re interested in business social networking, I recommend that you subscribe to my other blog, Online Social Networking.

Larry BraunerI asked on Facebook earlier today whether every small business should have a blog. My Facebook focus group provided eight responses of which six were affirmative.

Fortunately, I’m not obliged to side with the majority on such matters, and although I praise blogs in 6 Easy Ways to Integrate Search and Social on Your Blogs and elsewhere, I see a blog as one of a variety of marketing tools at our disposal.

Starting a blog requires a commitment that is inappropriate for many small businesses.

You and I can talk about thought leadership, but when an entrepreneur is already wearing five hats in his or her small business, and there’s a family at home requiring attention, starting a blog could be the very straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Outsource it? That could be pricey and, in any case, I don’t know if that is thought leadership.

Back in April, I asked: Is Going Blogless Really An Option?

My answer: “Going blogless is an option. [With some creativity] you can accomplish with a standard website most of what you’d hope to accomplish with a blog.”

If anybody says your small business must have a blog, send them to me with boxing gloves on, and the two of us will duke it out. :-P

Larry BraunerThe Business Development Institute is holding a free webinar on August 12, 2010 at 2pm ET that will discuss ways in which financial institutions are embracing social media to achieve their marketing and communications objectives.

The webinar will explain how major brands are connecting with customers, partners and employees through social media:

The Business Development Institute produces top quality events and training. I’m already registered for this one. Reserve your spot now.

Larry BraunerThis is a fairly lighthearted post, but it nevertheless outlines many social media marketing essentials.  If your online initiatives are weak in any area, you could be on the wrong track or missing key opportunities.

In the spirit of alliteration, and without further delay, here are the 10 F’s of social media marketing:

  1. Fact-findingCompetitive intelligence and market research. Know your objectives and where you stand before you begin your social media marketing, even if the picture ain’t that pretty.
  2. ForethoughtPlanning, market segmentation, positioning, keyword analysis, social media marketing landscape, etc. “The worst social media marketing advice is just jump in.”
  3. Functionality – Web site design, navigability, the area above the fold, website widgets, lead capture, etc. Basic, right? Believe me when I tell you that most web sites are dysfunctional.
  4. Findability – Maximize your use of SEO, SEM and social media marketing.
  5. Follow-through – Building relationships and converting people into consumers of your content, customers and raving fans. Once you have your plan and your websites are up, this is where most of your social media marketing effort should go.
  6. Fundamentals – Content, transparency, community, building trust, etc. Brian Kenny at the Harvard Business School says that we can’t connect via social media unless we understand the sociology of social media, which is different from the sociology of traditional media.
  7. Focus – Cast a wide social media net, but when it comes to expending time and effort, live by the 80/20 rule.
  8. Followers – Friends. Fans. People who adore your content. You need to love ‘em.
  9. Facebook – Half a billion people log into Facebook each month, including me. You should probably be on Facebook too.
  10. Friday – Have fun! Today is Friday, after all. Isn’t it? You can obsess about your social media marketing on Monday.

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