If you have been living under a rock for the past year or so, you wont be aware that on the web, one of the best ways of generating new, direct traffic to your website or blog is via Social Media marketing. The blogosphere and twitter trail is all a buzz with the term, which can seem dauntingly new and intimidating to marketers with traditional experience. Hopefully this guide should help to summarise how to interact online, and what services to use. Social media is all about giving back to the web community via numerous source online, and if you have no idea on what social media strategy to use for your business read on. Be more visible, Grow your personal Identity. This is not something terribly new or ground breaking but the more that you appear online on forums, blogs and relevant websites in your sector, the more likely you are to get noticed by customers, and other bloggers – which is of utmost importance in growing your business online, and gaining backlinks and social commentary. However the web has never been about a blanket approach – don’t get seen as a social spammer by visiting numerous places, dropping your name, and giving nothing back. After all your identity online is your brand, and your brand is your identity. Every time you help someone out, that build your brand. Everytime you Digg a link that the community enjoys, that builds your brand. Everytime you give something back, whether it be providing content for others (guest blogging), or giving someone a backlink or product mention (via your own blog) – the community or indeed the owner of the product will repay you three fold with backlinks. Don’t be an island, and remember for every service you signup online – tie either your name, or your website brand to that account in someway, so people recognise you. Blogs – Reach out and connect Reaching outBlogs are the most powerful medium for social interaction today, mainly because they explore the thought processes of both the reader and the writer, and are conversational in nature. If you can encourage comments on your blog, whether it be personal or commercial, you are half way to turning prospects into either subscribers or consumers – depending on what your focus is. Today’s shoppers trust opinion, and tomorrow’s shoppers (i.e. Generation Y) trust blogs and social media websites opinion – so you need to get involved. Remember that when you comment on someone else’s blog, that it is part of your identity online. If you are simply bouncing around different blogs listed in Technorati just posting “Great post” to get a backlink – you are missing the true power of blogs. It is better to completely forget about commenting unless you are going to contribute something of value. You will also find that a well thought out comment results in much more clickthrough traffic. Forums – Move up the ranks Newscamp Forums are another great way to give back to the web community. Starting at the bottom, and moving your way up through a new forums ranks is a great way to be seen as someone of importance online. The more you put in, the more you will get out of a forum. The people with the highest number of posts get a certain amount of priviledge. Normally they get to drop links to their own sites in the footer of their posts. They also get the power to moderate other people’s posts. The list of users in the forum is commonly sorted by the number of posts – again increasing your exposure. Just remember to let your personality shine through in your forum postings, as again, this represents your brand online. The personal Touch – Be seen to be seen So what is the best way to give a personal feel to what you say and do online? Your blog (and / or website) should tell me who you are. Admittedly I have yet to provide a photo on this website, but I have posted my Facebook account profile link before. Case in point I can think of a couple of prolific people around the web, that I remember off the top of my head, what their sites are, and what they look like. The reason for me giving them “prolific” status is my own perception of their brands online, and the fact that I remember what they look like helps enormously with this pursuit – I remember faces better because by nature human’s can recognise a face easier than remembering textual content.