Social marketing is a term that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately. Whether positive or negative conversation, it can’t be denied that the web is in the midst of an evolution right now. That evolution is the social web. The public is clamoring for it and if your not giving it to them, your competitors will be.The biggest issue with social marketing is the time involvement and the fact that it is often trial and error to find what works for your niche. It has meant endless hours spent commenting on blogs, posting to a blog, signing up for account upon account. It could bog one down in no time and almost require the hiring of a team of people to run it. The ROI if time is valuable was crazy if not non-existent at times. Thankfully all that is changing. While there is still time involved and accounts to sign up for, there are ways today to automate much of the stuff that ate up invaluable time and productivity -- and it doesn’t mean you have to steal content or repost others stuff.

Social Marketing 101 with WordPress

One way you can make this happen is through a WordPress blog. There are specific plugins for WordPress that allow you to free up your time. That’s not to say it can’t be done with other platforms, this is simply one the fastest and easiest. The blog can be installed as a main site or in a /blog directory for an existing site. It makes no difference. Once you have installed and designed your blog -- free themes are okay to use if you are able to customize them so check rights on any you use to make sure there are no restrictions on modifications -- you need plugins. Below is a list of necessary plugins to implement a quality social marketing campaign.

WordPress Plugins to Make Your Life Easier

* All in One SEO Pack 1.4.6.8 - Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog -- by uberdose * Commentluv 1.92 - Plugin to show a link to the last post from the commentors blog in their comment. Just activate and it’s ready. It will parse a feed from most sites that have a feed location specified in their head html (provided the hosting of the target site isn’t too slow so that the script times out) -- by Andy Bailey * FeedBurner FeedSmith 2.3.1 - Originally authored by Steve Smith, this plugin detects all the ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber -- by FeedBurner * Google XML Sitemaps 3.0.3.3 - This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO. Configuration Page by Arne Brachhold. * PingPress.fm 2.1.4 - Allows you to spread your wonderful blog to 10+ social networks via ping.fm -- by Sold Out Activist * Smart Update Pinger 2.0 - Replaces the built-in ping/notify functionality. Pings only when publishing new posts, not when editing -- by Christian Davén. * WP Auto Tagger 1.2 - Automatically finds tags based on your post content -- by iDope. These can all be found at WordPress.org. Don’t activate them until you have set up accounts for them to access each other properly.

Social Accounts to Spread the Word

Ping.fm An automatic posting service that when combined with the PingPress.fm plugin allows you to automatically update the services you have activated in your account. They are in beta right now, but you can request an invite code via their site. Recommended accounts are listed below: * Facebook * MySpace * Twitter * Pownce * Tumblr OnlyWire An automatic social bookmarker that you submit to and it add bookmarks to the sites you have activated on your account. Recommended accounts are listed below: * del.icio.us * ma.gnolia * linkatopia Twitterfeed An automatic posting service that allows you to autopost RSS feeds to your Twitter account. This is not spamming, stealing, or anything. The posts will link back to the original feed or post so you are simply supplying your audience with additional niche information in one easy to use place. Find 3-5 quality RSS feeds that are updated regularly and import them with your account. FeedBurner An RSS feed service that enables you to syndicate your feed easily and in many formats. This is the reason for the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin, which optimizes your output to FeedBurner.

What Comes Next?

Once all that is done, activate your plugins (you can have other plugins as well, but the ones listed above are key). Submit your blog to Google and you are ready to roll. All you have to do from here is post to your blog regularly. It then gets forwarded to all your accounts set up via Ping.fm. Then submit your new post using OnlyWire. It goes to all your social bookmarking accounts set up. In two steps you have now spread the word about your post across at least 9 different areas if you count the original post along with the RSS feed output and your social accounts. Don’t expect this to generate huge numbers right away -- first you need to gain friends, followers, etc. so that the word is spread to someone. Another good idea is to find 5-6 quality, niche-related blogs to start commenting on. Use Google Alerts to stay up to speed on industry related posting as it happens. Now you can sit back and not spend endless hours publishing information across multiple accounts. Just post to your blog and submit to OnlyWire. That’s it. The rest is done for you!