How can I keep individuals engaged through database marketing?

How can I get the most out of social media?

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A new study found that 90 percent of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media. What does your current social media plan look like?

The Internet had exponentially shortened the communication gap, as word can get passed across continents with one mouse click. Every day in my own personal social network, I see questions from friends asking about which vacation spot to go to, or for recommendations of house painters, or asking my opinion of the new restaurant that opened down the street.

Even on the Internet, where people are separated geographically but closely connected online, the old sales adage still holds true – people buy from those they know, like and trust. Social media gives you an opportunity to quickly build a relationship with a vast audience. Harnessing the power of social media will help you gain insight into your customer base and also provide a low-cost platform to try new featured articles, advertising opportunities or deliver extra value to your partners.

Your first priority should be building an email database so that you have an audience you can easily reach. Remember that the offer you make to someone to agree to receive emails from you is a sales pitch, in which case you need to have a strong value proposition. When you ask people to join your mailing list, they will immediately ask themselves "what's in it for me?" You need to not only give them a reason to sign-up, but give them a reason to stay engaged with you after they give you their email address.

Of course, other social media outlets which you can leverage are Facebook and Twitter.  By getting "likes" on your Facebook page, you are building a community of people who want to be involved with you.  You can use Twitter to get instant feedback about local news or new features you are thinking about rolling out. It's all about engagement. Ask questions that will generate responses from your followers.

I encourage you to get creative with your brand and how you engage both your online and offline readers.  If you can optimize your social media efforts, I am sure that you will quickly see more money come in across the board, including subscription revenue and advertiser dollars.

Allan Barmak is a national speaker and author of "The Accidental Salesperson." He leads a sales consulting and training firm which leverages his 20 years of sales experience in digital media. Over the years, he has worked with a variety of different companies across a wide range of industries, helping each of them expand their sales operations by optimizing existing revenue streams as well as building new ones.

He is available to run customized training for your salespeople to help them sell online media and can also deliver an "Accidental Salesperson" column for your paper if you would like additional content.

He can be reached at allan@barmakgroup.com or (703) 597-1033.

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