Marketing Yourself on MySpace

I have to confess to giving MySpace a bit of a short shrift at first, at least for business networking purposes. There’s no question that it has been phenomenally successful, but it has also been the subject of much controversy, thanks to its R-rated language and safety concerns (14 is the minimum age for membership). MySpace is the place to be if you’re in the music industry or the porn business, but is that really conducive to other business networking?

Well, it may not be the place to meet Fortune 500 executives or founders of funded Silicon Valley startups, but that doesn’t mean there’s not business going on there. Major brands like Panasonic, Nike and the new Harry Potter movie are not only doing display ads but setting up profile pages. But there are also a ton of small business owners, freelancers and work-at-home solopreneurs there marketing their products and services and finding strategic partners.

One such person is Stephen Ralph (UPDATE: Stephen moved to a new profile, link updated 8/12/06), a webpreneur whose businesses include Top Affiliate Program Directory and B2BSearch.org. He also runs the Affiliate Marketing Group on MySpace. Stephen has had great success marketing his businesses on MySpace and recently offered some tips on his forum regarding how to market yourself on MySpace (reprinted with permission):

There is no question that utilizing this mega networking portal can significantly increase your exposure. Myspace has roughly 40 million users worldwide and is growing at an exponential rate. Although it’s not the perfect advertising and marketing medium it offers an exceptional platform for you to be heard and get noticed.

Myspace provides you all of the necessary tools to market yourself or your business in a nice clean package. With all of the tools provided by myspace it’s even possible to conduct an Online Business solely from your profile (definitely not recommended though). Whether you are a model, plumber, online marketer, etc. your business and exposure can significantly increase by exploiting myspace for all of its potential.

Blogging:

The most important feature of your myspace account is your blog. Blogging has taken the web by storm these last few years and has become the “next big thing” in terms of Online Marketing. If you haven’t started utilizing your blog on myspace to market your business START TODAY. Quite simply, blogging allows you to share your expertise and knowledge with a larger audience.

Syndicating Your Blog Content:

If you’ve already started to blog, you probably noticed a link at the top of your blog page labeled “RSS”. This is essentially your money button. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is written in Extensible Markup Language or XML. So what does it do? RSS feeds allow your blog subscribers to review your latest news without even being on your website or myspace page. Your subscribers can view your latest blog posts via web-based or desktop RSS aggregators such as SharpReader, Rocket RSS Reader or FeedReader to name a few.

Once you’ve started your blog you need to get your blogs RSS feeds into the major Search Engines and RSS/Blog Directories. The very first thing you should do is get yourself a free My Yahoo! and MSN Passport account. Once these accounts are set up you can add your RSS feeds directly to your profile. Doing this enables Yahoo! and MSN to spider (or search) your site. This is a known way to rapidly get your website indexed by the search engines.

Now that you’ve loaded your RSS feeds into the search engines you need to spend some time adding your feeds to the top RSS & Blog Directories on the web. A current listing of the top RSS & Blog directories can be found here. If you’re like me…lazy…you may want to utilize the following RSS submission service provided by Global Syndication, L.L.C. I have used Josiah’s RSS submission services in the past and will likely use them again since it only costs a paltry $9.95 per RSS feed and the service is excellent.

Ringing the Dinner Bell:

It’s important to stand up on your soap box and let the world know every time you post a new article on your blog. How do you do this?….By pinging the RSS directories and repositories. Sending out a ping is like raising the red flag on the mailbox to tell the mailman you have new mail to be sent. In this case, you are telling the RSS directories and Blog tracking sites that your site has been updated. I primarily use two sites for pinging the RSS and Blog Directories: Pingoat and PingOMatic. (The latter has been pretty buggy lately though.) Make sure you ping only after you add fresh content to your blog.

Tips Before You Write a Post:

Good Information – Offer your viewers quality content information and they will come back again and again. People primarily get online for what…. information! So give it to them. If you provide a product or service give your blog subscribers some inside knowledge they can use and they’ll love you for it.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Before you get carried away writing your articles you need to do some research on what people are actually looking for within your niche or area of expertise. Before I write an article I check http://inventory.overture.com to see what the general populace is looking for within my niche. This free service will show you how many people are looking for a particular keyword during the past month. There are other great services available but I’m using this one as an example for brevities sake.

Adding A Resource Block – This is where it gets good. No doubt some of you are exceptional writers and others will want to republish your masterpiece. LET THEM! This will only increase your backend traffic to your personal/business web site, your myspace page or your brick and mortar business. People are always looking for good quality information to display on their site. It’s a win-win situation because they get free content and your business and services get more exposure through syndication. You’ll also gain credibility within your respective field as a trusted professional or expert. Here’s an example of what a resource block looks like:

    About the Author:

    Stephen Ralph is the owner and operator of the Top Affiliate Program Directory. Top Affiliate provides free internet advertising for affiliates and affiliate program managers promoting one and two-tier affiliate programs. (You can add your business address, phone .. etc. as well here depending on what type of business you operate. If you don’t have your own website yet be sure to put your myspace profile URL and blog URL in here.)

* Be sure to submit your award winning article(s) to article directories as well such as EzineArticles.

I hope this information proves useful to you and your business. Check back with me soon for more Online Marketing updates or grab my RSS feed from my myspace blog or site blog. I wish you all much success in your business and personal endeavors. Laters!

These are excellent tips, but I replied with a couple more of my own:

Build Your Brand – Much of the appeal of MySpace compared to other social networking site is the (almost) complete customizability of your home page. Whether you’re talking about creating a personal brand or a business brand, your MySpace profile should reinforce your brand – the name of your company, the visual identity and style, etc. Want to see some great examples? Check out some of the Featured Profiles on www.MySpace.com (can’t just click on Home once you’ve logged in).

Create Value First – Just linking to your offsite stuff stinks like wet sneakers. It’s transparent, it’s lame, and most importantly, it generally just doesn’t work very well. Create value first. Tell people something useful and actionable. Answer a question. Create value. Then within that context, you can link to your other stuff. Case in point… Stephen’s article above. Imagine how lame it would have been for him to just go on the forum and say “Come check out the Top Affiliate Program Directory and you too can make tons of money through affiliate programs.” Would you have clicked? I doubt it. But once you read what he wrote, saw that he knew what he was talking about, and that he was willing to create value for you first, didn’t that make you a lot more inclined to click through to learn more about his business? Great example — follow it.

And as far as using MySpace for business networking? Well, I can’t say that I recommend it for everybody, but if you’re selling products or services that appeal to a young audience into pop culture, it’s definitely the place to be online.

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