1. Connect your content to existing social networks
Almost every Web 2.0 application and community requires users to sign up and register. If you want to leave a comment on a blog, you need to register, sometimes every single time you leave a comment. With all the times you’ve registered on sites, you probably have hundreds of accounts that you’ve completely forgotten. Instead of creating your own community, simply latch on to existing communities.
Social networks such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter began reaching outside of their four walls and letting any site or content provider use a conduit tool to connect their content to their social networks. Examples include Google Friend Connect (video), Facebook Connect (video), and Sign in with Twitter.
These conduit tools offer quick authentication, commenting, and other conversational features. More importantly, once these connect tools are installed, every interaction a person has with your site can be broadcast to that individual’s entire social network, giving you access to their audience.
2. Distribute content through advertising networks
With fractions of a percentage click-through, banner ads are on the verge of being completely useless. Some companies have tried to attract more attention with pop-ups and animation. In those cases, click-throughs may increase, but that may be by accident. Ever try to close out a window and miss? People do want to click, but not on static advertising. They want to click on information.
Advertising networks have the distribution. Problem is the majority of the data being distributed are ads. Instead of creating a static banner ad and calling it a day, distribute your company story or information that you know your audience would appreciate through the advertising network. Make the same ad buy, but replace the JPGs with content widgets fed by RSS feeds. Once you’ve done that, you now have the power to constantly update the content and make it relevant to the hosted sites, and therefore relevant to the audience, thus increasing your industry voice and click-through.
3. Build relationships with contests
Contests are traditionally about a one-time value exchange for the user. Give me your contact information and in return I’ll give you a chance to win a prize. Companies then take your contact information and instead of creating a customer relationship, they simply push offers to you for months if not years after that single contest.
Social networks allow you to foster ongoing relationships. With each relationship created, the cost of additional impressions decreases. For your next contest, instead of asking for contact information as a qualification for entry, require the person to join your social network (e.g., follow on Twitter or join a Facebook fan page) to initiate a relationship. When people sign up to anything via social networks, their activity can be announced to their friends, plus the ongoing conversation acts as an amazing research and feedback loop for you to respond and grow your business.David Spark, a partner in Socialmedia.biz, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.