|Posted by Will Prude on August 7, 2010 at 2:07 AM|
Your first website has just gone live. Weeks of anticipation and planning have culminated in this moment. Now you're ready to sit back and watch your hit counter and bank account grow as you relax on the deck of a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean, right?
Many new website owners have discovered running a successful website is not quite that simple. Like any business venture, operating a website or web-based business takes work -- and sometimes a lot of it.
Fortunately, there is one tool in your arsenal you can use to increase your web
presence and your interaction with your customers: social media.
What is social media?
Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Put simply, social media tools help you as a website owner interact with your constituents, integrating them as members of a community rather than just as anonymous customers or patrons.
Social media consists of interactive elements on your site like blogs or comments, as well as active profiles on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, to name a few. The goal is to integrate your patrons and keep them informed on new offers, features, or updates to your site so they have reasons to keep visiting and to get their friends involved.
So, if you haven't already, go and set up a Twitter and Facebook account specifically for your online business or site.
Integrate, integrate, integrate
Now that you're out there in the social networking sphere, you will want to make sure you are giving your new community reasons to follow your business and frequently visit your site. You might offer a Twitter trivia contest, where the first person who gives the correct response to a question you post on Twitter will get an exclusive promotional discount. Or, you may say that whoever recruits the most followers for you on Facebook in a given time will get a $20 gift card.
Either way, the goal is to build a large and involved community that is enthusiastic about your site and products.
Once you've got some social networking accounts set up or a blog on your site, the key is to stay active. With so much information online and so many competitors, it can be easy to be forgotten if you're not giving your community new features, items, information, videos or promotions on a regular basis.
Doing this generally requires you you to log in a few times each day to update your status or to interact with your followers. If this is too time consuming, HIT sells software that you can program to periodically update your Twitter account for you.
The world is your network
Once you have established an online presence and have built a loyal community of followers, the possibilities for the success of your website or business are literally limitless. The key to remember is that you want to use social networking tools to build a "virtual neighborhood," where your online community comes to see themselves as part of an involved group so they they will invite others to join them and help your web presence grow.