A new form of website promotion comes from the mushrooming field of social media, in which people are encouraged to interact and respond to each other’s blog postings and comments. You should be aware of four types of social media: (1) blogs, (2) social networking websites, (3) social bookmarking websites, and (4) forums. Don’t be upset if the distinctions between types of social media tend to blur. Social media help promote your website by sending direct traffic, producing links to your website, and generating awareness.
Begin a Business Blog. Want links to your website? Begin a business blog on your website, hosted on your own domain. If you offer excellent content and regular industry comment, people are likely to link to it, increasing your website’s PageRank. Consistency and having something to say are key. If you have a blog on a third-party blog website, occasionally find reasons to talk about and link to your own domain.
Become Part of a Social Media Community. Some of the best online communities for business include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In addition, you may want to participate in a social bookmarking community in which members share with each other information about websites, articles, or news items that they like (or don’t like). These include Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Google Bookmarks. Search engine spiders troll these websites looking for links to something new and relevant. You can usually place a link to your website in your profile, but the biggest gain comes when other people mention you (which generates traffic to your website), link to you (which increases your PageRank and brings traffic), or bookmark you (which increases your PageRank and brings traffic).
One important reminder, don’t join a community to spam them or talk incessantly about your business. Like any community you must listen, comment, and make a genuine contribution for the good of others. Don’t hog the conversation. Otherwise, your self-serving links and comments will hurt your reputation.
Promote Your Site in Online Forums and Discussion Lists — “old school” social media. The Internet offers thousands of very targeted e-mail based discussion lists, online forums, and groups made up of people with very specialized interests. Use Google Groups to find appropriate groups. Search online for blogs or other forums.
Don’t bother with groups consisting of pure spam. Instead, find groups where a serious dialog is taking place. Don’t use aggressive marketing and overtly plug your product or service. Rather, add to the discussion in a helpful way and let the “signature” at the end of your e-mail message do your marketing for you. People will gradually get to know and trust you, visit your website, and do business with you.