Brand or Die!

A Small Business Survival Guide

The Social Networking for Business Project: Using Social Media

Social Networking is actually an umbrella label. Within "social networking" in general are several different categories of social networks, each with its own value. So in my social networking experiment I got to know all about the world of one of those categories: Social Media.

Social Media, specifically, is a network built around user generated media. From the more ubiquitous YouTube, to sites like Digg or Twitter, these types of sites can present several unique and valuable opportunities to communicate with your audience.

YouTube, for example, has several possible uses. First, you can try to create your own viral video. You know, the kind of video that someone forwards to you with the note: "You've got to see this!" That's a viral video. So named, because it spreads like...well, a virus.

Although most viral videos have been humorous, perhaps even silly or weird, there have been established brands that have used it very effectively to build buzz. BMW, for example, had a series of videos about a fictional kidnapping that the hero foiled using his BMW. The object was to build buzz around a new model that was launching.

Viral content should be used carefully in a way that never undermines your brand. If you don't want to be seen as silly, don't create silly content. On the other hand, your content must have a sharp hook that will make it something that "you have to see!"

Another use for YouTube is less "pop culture" oriented. You can start a YouTube Channel that features your videos. Here you can expound on topics, post clips from workshops you've given, etc.

However you use it, you can see how the immediate connection is made. That's why it is such a powerful medium. Plus it's set up to be shared. Every video carries with it instructions on how to link to the video, embed it in their website or share it through other social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

Another type of Social Media is the one you're reading now. That's right, blogging. If you don't have one, you should. They are easy to set up and carry the same viral capacity that YouTube has. In addition, it's possible to carry your blog with you onto other sites to increase your exposure potential. For example, this blog that you're reading now is being simultaneously broadcast on Facebook, Linked In, Plaxo, and my local newspaper.

This should give you a brief overview of Social Media and some ways that you can use it to promote your business. Have fun with it and let me know how it works out!

Go forth and be ruthless!

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