I can DIGG it, can you?

No, I am not using some “Hip” slang, I am using some FANTASTIC new social networking site’s that I hope you will sign up and use, too!

We’ve all grown up with advertising. TV, radio, billboards, pop ups, banners…it’s everywhere, and you can’t escape it. Now stop and think for a second…how many times have you clicked on an advertisement online, or heard a commercial on the radio that has made you run out and buy something? Chances are you haven’t, or you haven’t that often. Is this a cost-effective way for businesses to promote themselves? Free advertising can be a better way to promote your business. It’s more effective, costs much less, and won’t ruin your reputation like high cost ads can. Here, you’ll learn some of the techniques people are using to utilize free advertising to their advantage.

Let’s start Social Bookmarking! ( I am talking about book marking these sites so they are readily available to post your newest items, sales, and treasuries!)

Be social, join a community, gain a following…
Join sites like de.lic.ious, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit are becoming increasingly popular for sharing your favorite sites or favorite news articles and spreading the good word on sites that are worth a look.

I know what you are thinking: Why is it so important to network?

Social networking or marketing seems to be something a lot of people don’t understand or give up on too quickly, I have heard so many people say that they don’t “get” Facebook or Twitter.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand it right away because millions of others do! The key is to build your network. The larger it is the more effective it becomes. The bigger it gets the better the chance your posts and tweets and updates will make rounds not just within your network, but within your follower and fan networks as well. That is where you start to see the effectiveness of social marketing.

In all reality, you have to take the time to get to understand social networks and pick at least two to get started on, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or a host of other social networking sites. I will be honest, it takes some time to build a good network, but your hard work will be worth it in the end.

There are lot of communities specifically built for artists and crafters on the Internet that are worth checking out because they are effective. There are many general and specific communities with a number of tools to help you market your product and get seen, too! Keep in mind that not all communities are for everyone. In the same way, not all communities work for marketing. My advice is to pick the ones you are interested in. Participate as much as possible. Then go back after a month’s time and look at your site statistics to see where your traffic is coming from. You can then start to weed out communities that aren’t working and put more focus into those that are.

del.icio.us: Discover, share and manage your social bookmarks. This site is not quite as active as it used to be, but can be a good way to organize your own websites that you read.

StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon brings the sites you like right to you based on your interests. Stumble your favorite sites and network. This site can potentially bring hundreds or thousands of visitors, but your content has to be exceptional. Use the Chrome Extension for Google Chrome users.

Digg: Discover and share your favorite web content anywhere, from videos to blogs to news articles.

Reddit: User-generated news links. Votes promote stories to the front page, like Digg!

SheToldMe.com
An easy to use site that has a Digg style format. Add your link to the website along with a custom description for best results.

Best-Reviewer.com
Create a “top” list of hubs, Squidoo lenses, blog posts, websites, Amazon products, or anything else that you can think of. An easy to use format that creates backlinks, generates traffic, and interest in your website!

Rules of Engagement
Arguably, perhaps the most important part of crafting a successful social media strategy is building an online voice that is true to your brand identity while resonating with your key audiences. Though each social network has its own culture and mores of behavior, there are a number of best practices for operating in a paradigm where the premium is on personalization and the currency is conversation.

Be Engaged – Contrary to traditional advertising, which tends to be a one-directional message push to a passive audience, social networking is premised on the notion of a dynamic and interactive relationship. Just like in real life, effective social networking requires cultivating and nurturing friendships. This means regularly sparking dialogue with your Twitter followers, blog readers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn discussion group members, etc, and responding to their questions in a timely manner. Similarly, it means understanding that you can’t just walk away from a difficult conversation or lash out when someone expresses an opinion you do not agree with.

Be Interesting – Post more than just treasuries you have curated, sales in your shops and etc. Think outside the box and post things that are fun to read, inspirational sayings, quotes or just share your thoughts about life in general, you can use these things to drive traffic and keep your audience engaged.

Be Committed – For all its benefits, social networking can also be time consuming. To be successful, social networking must be focused, systemic and consistent.

Social Networking Platforms
Whether social networking is becoming the lifeblood of your business or if you’re just getting your feet wet, the following is an overview of the most popular platforms:

Blogs done right allow you to share stories and messages in an authentic and informal manner and enable you to make a meaningful connection with your audience. They are relatively fast and simple to create, easily findable via RSS, and can promote ongoing conversations with readers. On the flip side, blogs are ineffective and even damaging if they are not rigorously curated, (i.e., published on an erratic schedule) not timely or topical for the target audience, poorly written or inadvertently controversial.

Facebook and LinkedIn both enable you to join, or form, groups where you can directly interact with current and prospective customers, influencers, etc. If starting your own group, it may be advisable to scope the landscape to identify how many similar groups exist and determine how to differentiate yours. Keep your groups and fan pages updated regularly with information on events you will be hosting or attending that may interest your community.

With Facebook, it is important to understand the differences between business and personal account functionality. For example, business accounts have limited access to information on the site. An individual with a business account can view all the pages and social ads that they have created, but will not be able to view the profiles of users on the site or other content that does not live on the pages they administer. In addition, business accounts cannot be found in search and cannot send or receive friend requests. One useful tool that Facebook offers is a vanity URL. This is a unique identifier for your page that is easy to share, remember and find on search engines.

Microblogs, like Twitter or Yammer which generally limit comments to 140 characters, are useful for quick company announcements, pithy commentary on a breaking issue, marketing and link sharing and customer support. A number of companies have had success utilizing Twitter for promotions and giveaways as well monitoring conversations to target and communicate with potential customers.

In closing, I can only tell you that I am determined to make my shop a success, so if that means I have to Stumble and Tumble while Tweeting my Facebook in MySpace with a kaboodle of Yammer, I can Digg it, can you?

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