Social network marketing offers huge potential to merchants both online and off. The immense and growing popularity of social network sites has lead to a stampede of marketers vying for some of that traffic. Online entrepreneurs however need to develop and stick to some type of plan or strategy that will enable them to effectively promote their goods and services within any online social networking community.

Social network sites as a whole are 'unstructured' insofar as their main intent is socializing which leads to a more casual and undisciplined atmosphere. Online entrepreneurs therefore must have a workable strategy in place prior to entering these social arenas so that their efforts are more focused and efficient.

Here is a 5 step marketing strategy that can be used within the social networking community to help marketers maintain their focus and get better results.

Establish Your Objectives

Before entering into the social network 'arena' if you have the intent to conduct some type of business determine in advance what your objectives are. Social network sites can be a lot of fun but if you are there to do business this fun can also be a distraction to you. By establishing your objectives beforehand you will be better able to maintain your focus and minimize any time you may waste.

Your goals may be to simply create more exposure, conduct a survey or promote something to the site members. Whatever your objectives, by defining them beforehand you will be able to avoid getting sidetracked thereby making more efficient use of your time.

Identify Your Market/Prospects

Social network sites as previously mentioned are largely unstructured since they are 'melting pots' of different people with varying interests. Your business objectives will likely only target a particular type of person or group. Identifying this segment or niche beforehand will make it much easier to categorize them while working within any social networking community. This will help you to better focus your efforts on those 'areas' that will give you the best results.

Don't Be an Annoyance

No matter how focused you may be as a business person leave that drive at the door or at least keep it under wraps. These are social communities and not 'pitch-fests' for online marketers. If you identify that your intentions are only business you will have a difficult time making friends and/or acquaintances.

Blend In - Interact

Social network sites have great traffic potential for marketers but effort needs to be invested gaining a relationship with your prospects first. You will want to take part in their discussions and even initiate some of your own. The more you inter-relate with site members the faster you will be accepted by them. Remember you are at the site to conduct business whereas they are there to socialize and this is a 'divide' you need to cross first.

Any way you look at it you will need to invest some time 'cultivating' the market you are developing on the site. Work prudently by identifying your market or prospects first and focusing your time and energy on them.

Keep At It

The rule of thumb you need to keep in mind when working social network sites for business purposes is to socialize first and be patient. You are a stranger to other members and they need to get 'comfortable' with you. It may take some time to gain members acceptance but considering the traffic potential the investment of your time will be worth it.

Social network marketing is a viable approach with tremendous potential for promoting goods and services on the internet. Due to the casual and undisciplined environment of the social networking community however marketers must be on guard so as to not lose the focus of their intentions. By customizing and implementing the 5 step marketing strategy we spoke of above merchants can become more effective and efficient at social network marketing. Upon successfully implementing these marketing strategies one can reasonably expect a significant boost in their online traffic and overall sales.

Author's Bio: 

TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina.
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