Reaching New Clients through Social Networking Sites

This piece comes from David Meerman Scotts' "Optimizing Social Network Pages: Reach your buyers directly using online thought leadership", David Meerman Scott is the creator of the Web Ink Now blog, and author of "The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly" .

Here are some ideas to get the most out of using social networking sites for marketing:

Target a specific audience. Create a page that reaches an audience that is important to your organization. It is usually better to choose a small niche market to target (for example, people who want to do their own car repairs but don't know how to discover what's wrong).

Be a thought leader. Provide valuable and interesting information that people want to check out. It is better to show your expertise in a market or solve a buyer's problems than to blather on about your product.

Be authentic and transparent. Don't try to impersonate someone else. It is sleazy, and if you get caught you can do irreparable harm to your company's reputation. If your mother would say it is wrong, it probably is.

Create lots of links. Link to your own sites and blog, and those of others in your industry and network. Everybody loves links-it makes the Web what it is. You should certainly link to your own stuff from social networking sites (like your blog), but also link to other people's sites and content in your own market.

Encourage people to contact you. Make it easy for people to reach you online, and be sure to follow up personally on your e-mail.

Participate. Create groups and participate in online discussions. Become an online leader and organizer.

Make it easy to find you. Tag your page and add your page into the subject directories. Encourage others to bookmark your page with del.icio.us and DIGG.

Experiment. These sites are great because you can try new things. If it isn't working, tweak it. Or abandon the effort and try something new.

And remember, there is no such thing as an "expert" in marketing using social networking - we're all learning as we go!