How do you use the Social Networking Sites to apply traditional (offline) network marketing to the Internet? That’s a question that arose a couple of days ago. Here’s the gist of my response:
Social Network Marketing is about applying ‘traditional’ Network Marketing to the Internet. However, it works a little differently to off line network marketing, as in the Amway model.
Social Network Marketing online needs to be combined with the development of an authority site.
An authority site is not set up to sell, but rather to provide up-to-date, valuable and useful information on its topic. Once an authority site has a critical mass of visitors it can then be used to channel visitors on to sales pages of relevant products or services.
A successful authority site has lots of regular readers and acts as a community of like-minded people discussing the site’s topic. It’s the online equivalent of a Tupperware party, but without the selling part.
Since more and more authority sites are set up on blogs or content management platforms, there’s the ability for readers to add comments, questions or clarifications to articles, thereby adding to the information value and turning the site into a discussion forum.
In a vibrant and active blog-based authority site there will be ‘discussions’ on each article that’s posted.
The dream of social network marketers is to publish content that goes viral. But content will only do this if it’s good enough to make enough visitors pass the link on to friends, who then pass it on again.
While it is possible for a good article on a new site to go viral, a site generally needs a critical mass of regular readers to give it the best chance of launching a viral post.
The higher the number of returning/regular visitors a site has the more likely it is that people will pass on the URL, either friend to friend or through the social networking sites.
And once a site has a high proportion of returning visitors it can begin to act as a funnel to sales pages for relevant products or services.
So how do you make a site into an authority site?
You need to attract readers.
There are many ways you can do this, but an established authority site generally attracts new readers from two primary sources:
- Search Engines
- Social networking sites (provided you’ve joined social networking sites and done the work there to build your presence)
It also has a high proportion of regular readers.
Of these, the search engines generally provide the most valuable visitors and the ultimate goal of an authority site is usually to get as high a proportion of its visitors as possible from the search engines.
Why is that?
Because people who find you through the search engines are looking for what you’re providing, and if your site is monetised they’re more likely to buy from you.
So what will get you found by the search engines?
Regular fresh content, a well-optimised and structured site (with properly set up meta data) and links. Lots of inbound links.
This means that getting an authority site off the ground takes time and work. And perseverance.
You need to find communities online that are interested in your topic and become involved with them. Join relevant forums, join social networking sites and set up relevant groups. Leave as big a footprint on line as you can.
In your forums and social networking groups you need to take the same care to become accepted and respected as you would in real-world forums and groups. Politeness, providing valuable information and generally contributing to the community should be your priorities.
Direct promotion of your site, opportunity or product is definitely not!
The end game is to gain enough respect and curiosity from the people around you that people start clicking the link on your signature line or your profile and visit your blog.
Once they get there they should be blown away by the valuable information that’s waiting for them. When they are, they’ll bookmark you, return and pass your link to others – and you need as many of them to do this as possible. Time and time again.
As your readership builds so will the number of links into your site. This, combined with your well-optimised site and regular fresh content, will make the search engines notice you. And when they do your traffic will really begin to climb.
At first, the visitors you get from the social sites will be ‘bounce’ visitors. People who visit your site because of a specific article, read through the article and click away again.
But over time the proportion of bounce visitors will decline and the proportion of regular readers will grow.
And that’s when you can get your authority site to start channelling traffic to sales pages for relevant products or services.
So basically the model for the online version of network marketing is:
- Create an authority site – good, up to date, valuable information, regularly updated. This is where you should focus most of your attention.
- Build a regular readership (by creating a presence and providing valuable information through the social networking sites, forums and other sources)
- Attract as much traffic as you can from the search engines
- Let the authority site act as a funnel to sites selling products that are relevant to its topic.
Leave a comment telling us how you’ve moved network marketing online – the easy and the not so easy parts.