One way to boost online credibility as an expert is to participate in online communities by providing ideas, feedback and advice to people who share common interests and are in need. By joining conversations, you will build credibility as an expert in your field and be seen as a person who is willing to help others. The community will appreciate your involvement, rely on you for information and ultimately become prospects for your lesson sales. Thus, online communities offer an outstanding forum for reaching out to and developing a relationship with potential customers, so this third post in this blog series on Marketing Your MindBite will focus on strategies for social media online communities. Part 1 of this series started us off with a close look at what you should do on MindBites or your custom store to market your videos and ensure that they can be found, and part 2 looked at techniques you can use to market your videos on your own site or blog. .
Before jumping in and participating in your area of expertise, know that being seen as an expert/valued contributor takes time to build and does not happen overnight. In fact, some online communities have rules in place that prevent self-promotion before a minimum level of contribution has been made. In general, self-promotion is off-putting before a relationship/connection is made with the folks in the community. In fact, one case study found that “engagement” techniques are three times more effective than traditional “broadcast” techniques (ie. blind self promotion) when used in online communities.
The bottom line is to treat your relationship with online communities like you would a person that you just met at a networking event; ease into self-promotion when the time is right.
The following is an outline for navigating through online communities on the web:
1. Voice your (educated) opinion in forums
Forums are internet-based message boards or discussion sites. Forums are available on every subject and are open to new members. To find topic specific forums, conduct a search on the subject + forum (ex: Halloween Forum). Digg is another resource to search for online forums and communities. Most forums allow people to read posts/threads/comments without being registered; however registration is required for participation. Be sure to read the forum community rules to understand the parameters before getting started.
Best Practice: Join discussions by contributing advice and insight, starting threads, and weighing in on topics that you think are important to discuss. After becoming an active participant in a forum, you can start to drop links to your author profile page and specific lesson pages. Remember to include a link to your author profile in your online signature. This will deliver targeted, interested visitors to your profile and lesson pages.
2. Leave comments (and links) on Blogs
Blogs are a personal or corporate website in the form of an online journal, with new entries appearing in sequence and usually taking on the personality of the blog author(s). Most blogs allow for reader participation through comments.
Best Practice:Search for blogs on your topic(s) through search engines and blog aggregator sites such as Technorati, Communities and Network Connection and Blogs.com. Once you have found blogs that have recent activity and attract your target audience, start commenting and connecting with the blog author and readers. If it is appropriate, drop a link to your lesson or author profile to support your point. Also, include a link to your author profile in your signature.
3. Get your network on!
Social Networking Sites focus on building online communities of people who share interests and activities and are interested in exploring these shared interests and activities with others. While there are countless social networking sites, the ‘Big Three’ right now are: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Best Practice: Participating in a social networking site is a great opportunity to connect with people who are current or future customers, fans or referral sources. Social networking sites provides easy, free access for building networks, communities, fan bases, groups and events. Social networking tools are also an excellent way to stay connected and to listen to your current and potential customers.
Facebook: The opportunities that exist in Facebook are building a Facebook Group and Facebook Page and joining and participating in groups that are relevant to your topic(s).
A Facebook Page gives a business a public profile and can be used to build identity. Customers, friends and users can become fans of your Facebook page and they will automatically receive your updates and information in their news feeds. Your Facebook page can also be used to promote your business through status updates to let people know what you are working on, adding videos, and writing notes. Further, when someone becomes a fan, it shows up on their news feed which is also visible to all of their friends and contacts. Thus creating the potential for a viral buzz effect. In addition, Facebook Pages have exposure because they can be seen by unregistered users.
Facebook Groups are meant to foster group discussion around a particular topic area as well as create events. This can be used to create open dialog as well as give customers and potential customers a voice. One disadvantage of a group is that the group members activity is less visible to all of their friends as it does not show up in their news feed. A major advantage of a group is that you can communicate directly to your members as messages go directly to their inbox vs. only showing up on their news feed. Further, you can invite people who are not Facebook members to join the group.
Twitter: Twitter can be used to promote yourself, your videos, participate in conversations and monitor your reputation. The first step is to find people who are interested in your area of expertise. Once you find them, follow them. If your tweets (i.e. information) are interesting, they might follow you back and before you know it, you have built up a following.
Tweet about links and news to your area of expertise or links and information about your new videos, insightful thoughts, quotes or tips. Once you build up a following, ask for feedback and encourage questions and dialog. Reply to people’s tweets to build a relationship with them and retweet other peoples tweets to show others that you are interested.
Don’t forget to promote your twitter account on your website, email, ads and other social networking sites. The easier you are to find on Twitter, the more people will find you.
Linked In: Linked In represents a great opportunity for marketing your expert video content. In the past, Linked In was used for business related networking; however, it has changed and can now be used as a marketing resource for any subject. Like other sites, Linked In also has the ability to build profiles, join groups and particpate in conversations; however, it also has a very robust question and answer feature where anyone can ask and answer questions (i.e. marketing opportunity). Here is a link to a list of 33 ways to use Linked In for your business.
4. Utilize You Tube/Video Sharing sites to broaden yo your lesson audience
Video Sharing Sites are websites where users can upload, view and share video clips. YouTube is the most popular of many different video sharing sites available on the web.
Best Practice: Creating a free clip of your instructional video is an excellent way to reach your target audience. Your video clip will be found by search engines, on-site search and on other sites who feed off or embed videos from these video sharing sites. Be sure to include a link to the lesson at the very beginning of your lesson description so viewers can click through from your video clip to watch the preview and purchase your lesson. You may also want to consider using a video distribution service, like TubeMogul, which can help you syndicate your video clip to the top video sharing sites in a single shot.
5. Become a (written) author
Ezines/Online Article Sites like Ezine Articlesare part-promotional, part-informational newsletters, magazines or articles distributed on the Internet. Ezines typically allow for article submissions by experts on any subject. The article has to provide quality (not purely promotional) information, and it must approved by an editor before it is made available for distribution. In exchange for providing “free” content, the author of the article is allowed a few promotional links in the body and signature section of the article.
Best Practice: Writing an article about a specific topic is an easy way to build credibility. Once published online, the entire article becomes fair game for search engines. When people are searching for your subject, your article will appear in the search results. Further, web sites and blog owners who are looking for quality content will have the ability to post your article on their site. This will give you exposure to entire audience groups that you might not otherwise reach. Because you have the ability to promote yourself and your instructional videos in the body of the article, it is an extremely cost effective form of promotion.
6. Provide helpful answers, gain grateful followers
Question and Answer Sites are open communities where people can post questions, answers and resources. Participating in question-and-answer community sites like Yahoo Answers , AllExperts and Answerbag is a great opportunity to help people solve problems and promote yourself as an expert.
Best Practice:Use the search function on the Q & A sites to find questions and answers in your area of expertise. Once you have found relevant Q & A, weigh in with your questions, advice and when appropriate, drop links promoting your lessons and author profile. Crafty online marketers have been known to ask questions under one login and directly answer with another login to jump start the conversation or thread.
7. “Fabulous video lessons for sale…”
Online Classified Ad Sites are advertising websites that contain items for sale and/or services offered. They are usually arranged by category. An example of a classified ad site is Craigslist.
Best Practice: Posting an ad for your content in an online classified site is a great way to find people who are looking for very specific classes, instruction, information, services or products. Within your post/advertisement, you can include a link to your author profile or lesson page as a way to generate qualified traffic. Further, you can contact users who are looking for particular information or services if your expertise is relevant.
8. Leave links to your lessons EVERYWHERE - but do it tastefully
Online Publications are collections of web pages, images and videos used to make content publicly known (similar to a newspaper or magazine). Online publications are available in many formats such as news, academic, gaming, investment and politics.
Best Practice: If comments are allowed by the publisher, weigh in with your thoughts and insights about the subject and then casually drop a link to either your profile or lesson page. The rule of thumb is to direct people to your author profile if you want to show all of your lessons or if the comment is very specific to one of your lessons, link to the lesson page. Remember to avoid spamming and only include relevant insights, thoughts and advice.
Wrong way to leave a comment:
The greatest video of all time http://www.mindbites.com/lesson/62-how-to-swaddle-a-baby
Right way to leave a comment:
Swaddling a baby is a very effective way to make a baby feel secure and when my kids were infants, we kept them swaddled almost all the time. Here is a great place to learn different swaddling techniques: http://www.mindbites.com/lesson/62-how-to-swaddle-a-baby
So, that’s the skinny on marketing your MindBites in Online Communities. The bottom line is that you must establish credibility in your area of expertise before you will start to see the fruits of your online community/social networking labor. However, if you take the time to become a trusted adviser to your community and then subtly link to your MindBites lessons, they will come (I seriously had to struggle to resist a “If you build it…” reference right there…I guess I just made one…dang it!).
Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this series - on Marketing your Lessons on the MindBites site, or Part 2 - on Marketing your Lessons on your site or blog, make sure to do so!