Chris Bennett (follow him on twitter) has been someone I’ve looked up to since I started in the big world of search engine marketing and social media. He is the President and founder of 97th Floor and has been involved with the Internet since the days of Alta Vista’s reign (the good ol’ days when you could change your meta tags, submit your site through Inktomi and see your rankings improve by dinner). Chris got into SEO from a Graphic Design background. Since then he has seen the rewards of high search engine rankings; he’s been privileged to work closely with large companies such as Omniture, Henry Schein and The Polynesian Cultural Center. He’s spoken at many SEO conferences and seminars including a yearly seminar put on in Hawaii. He’s worked on or advised nearly a thousand sites, which has helped him think outside the box and find new ways to leverage anything from drop shipping, to catering, to one of the fastest growing software companies on the planet.
Interview with Chris Bennett
Social Media Marketing for a New Online Business
- In regards to social media, where is the best place to start if you are new to online marketing? Identify the key players and follow them on Twitter and their respective social sites. Twitter is a good place to jump in cause there is more conversation there and it is where all the other social sites come together. Also identify the blogs of the key players and those making headway in the space. #1 to getting started with social media is just doing it, setting up accounts, observing and participate when you feel comfortable.
- Why is social media marketing such an important part of success with a new online business? or is it? It is, because you can drive instant traffic, engage customers and brand yourself quickly and effectively and it is affordable.
- What are some of the main tools all new social media marketers should learn how to use if they plan to survive? First get to know the tools of the sites you want to focus on, there are tools to streamline and analyze your experience pretty much across the board. Do searches for things like, Digg Stats, and Twitter Stats, and Twitter Tools, etc.. Aside from that, the StumbleUpon tool bar, SEO Toolbar by Aaron Wall and Social Media for Firefox.
- Is social media marketing at all tied to monetization? If so, how? If not, why not? If you count branding as monetization then yes all of it is, if you are using it for a business goal. If you are using to meet and find people then no. Specificly it can be monetized through traffic, branding, increased rss subscribers, newsletters, direct sales, links and increased rankings.
- Please share one specific social media marketing experience that you attribute to financial success. Built an entire community and following strictly through social media for a client and it is now in the process of getting aquired by a very large Fortune 100.
- Where do you see social media marketing going in the next 3 years? The web is moving to a more dynamic and more social atmosphere. Everything will be social and sharable (is that a word :), everyting will be more instant than now and I am seeing it go from an easy way to share and network information, to a medium that will tell you what you should be looking for and searching for even before you do. Twitter search and Twitter Trends are a huge step in that direction.
- Is social media marketing taking over the world of organic search engine optimization as we once knew it? Social Media is taking over the internet, it can play an intrical part in anyone’s online strategy and it will only get bigger. But SEO will never go away. If I was a small business especially a regionalized one, I would first focus on organic seo for my GEO terms as well as Local Directories and search optimization. Once I had that under way I would then turn some (not all) attention on Social.
Any additional advice you’d like to share with people who are starting an online business?
My best advice for someone starting out is to just get the site up and live, and then start small by picking a less competitive keyword to start and test, test, test. That way once you rank for the smaller word you will enjoy small victories and it will carry you until you are dominating your industry. I believe that if a company is not online in 5 years they will not exist, everyone should be thinking about adapting to the Internet. I believe the future of SEO is in branding and doing things differently, which may include adopting a social media campaign or ranking for every spot in Google for your branded terms and employee names or buying smaller sites and ranking them for the same keywords to give you multiple positions for the same term. Also if you are not doing something to build a community online you will be past up by a competitor that is. Whether it is through blogging, user generated content or a profiles and member based site you need to be building a community. Community is the new commodity. (bold added for emphasis)
Special thanks to Chris Bennett for sharing his excellent advice about social media marketing!