11 Ways to Market Your New Social Networking Website
1. Identify your target audience
Who are you targeting -- specifically? To help answer this question, think about the target age, gender, interest, and geographic location of who you want to use your new site.
2. Beta test – thoroughly
Social networkers have choices, and they definitely don’t have the time or willingness to deal with problems. So before you launch, you need a really strong beta site that’s been tested and tested and tested. And tested one more time for good measure. If you have the budget, consider private or third-party testing – not only will they do a thorough job, but they may notice problems that over time you’ve come to ignore. The easiest way to turn off a potential customer is to deliver a sub-par experience.
3. Seed your site
Say you’re creating a site for interior designers and your goal is for thousands of designers to upload photos for the community to comment on. At launch, make sure you have tons of photos in place.
4. Network to generate traffic
The key message here is that social networking requires online, not offline, buzz generation. Get in touch with online influencers during your website's pre-launch phase and more general blogs and PR sites post-launch.
5. Consider traditional online advertising
If you have the budget, contact the large sites and forums in your demographic that sell ad space and buy a few ads (federatedmedia.com could be a good source). But do not delude yourself into buying just any traffic, and don’t focus on general-interest sites even if they get huge amounts of traffic. In the early stages of your website, you want your ads in front of the right eyeballs – not just any eyeballs.
6. Don’t forget SEO
Getting traffic from search engines is key, right? And getting free traffic is even better. To do this, one of the first things you’ll want to do is identify keywords and continually optimize your site and pages and get ranked for those words.
7. Participate on sites related to your niche
If there’s a huge forum or a thriving group in StumbleUpon in your demographic, set up an account, link back to your site, and interact and become well-known in that community and you’ll generate traffic to your site.
8. Create spokes for your hub
Set up Facebook and MySpace pages that are extensions of your site. Then search and network with people who share your interest. Aggregating content from your social site and placing it on your Facebook and MySpace pages will give potential visitors a sense of what is on your main site.
9. Analyze, analyze, analyze
The key to effectively marketing your social networking site is to understand conversions. A conversion in social networking terms is not a sale, it’s a sign-up. (Marketing is, after all, about spreading the word, getting the right visitors, and converting them.) A free tool on blvdstatus.com can help you understand where visitors came from before they signed up, whether based on a keyword, a site, or a blog.
10. Encourage your active community
Think of ways to get your community to interact with each other. The benefit is that ever elusive ‘network effect’ – when an active community creates buzz and word of mouth, yielding more users.
11. When you reach critical mass, work on features to fine-tune the community experience
Once the buzz from the launch dies down, new features can build new excitement, both within your community and outside. So spend time adding features or tools. Then contact bloggers and influencers to let them know what you’ve done – not only will you maintain a vibrant community, but the buzz will help you generate more new users.
The Author's site is here: 11 Ways to Market Your New Social Networking Website