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How Can Businesses Harness the Power of Social Media Marketing?

Shama Hyder Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, talks about which sites businesses should concentrate, the power of video, and the opportunities with location-based apps.

Recently I interviewed Shama Hyder Kabani, author of the new book The Zen of Social Media Marketing, about how businesses could harness the power of social media. Below are some excerpts from that interview. You can read the entire transcript here.

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Can every company benefit from social media marketing?

It’s not a fit for everyone. I’m kind of a contrarian in that sense because I actually think that social media marketing comes last. It comes after you have an established brand. It comes after you really know what your business model is. It comes after you have a really good website in place. It’s the last step when you’re ready to amplify what you’re already doing.

Which social media sites do you recommend for people who feel overwhelmed by the choices in social media?

The three websites that I recommend to people are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The reason I recommend these is because they’re the three biggest sites. But it’s also because there are a lot of little niche sites out there. What I find is that the people who are on those little niche sites—there’s Foursquare, Plancast and other things that are always popping up—they’re early adopters that are more likely than not to actually already be using these three main sites. So if you set your target on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you’re essentially going to be able to reach the same people that you would with the smaller sites.

Why do you feel online video is so important?

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There’s a statistic that I like to share with people which essentially says that 64% of people will finish watching up to a 30-minute commercialized video clip, like Billy Mays selling something, or an infomercial, for example, versus 24% that will actually finish reading a full article. That, in itself, was pretty surprising to me.

I started a web TV show called Shama.tv. Six months into it, some of those little videos, the two-minute clips I’d done, had been embedded and shared online over 8,000 times. Yet writing a written blog for almost two years, I hadn’t achieved as much traction as I did within six months of a web video blog.

What do you say to companies that are afraid of getting negative feedback in social media?

What I’d say to them, Rich, is that chances are people are already saying it. The good, the bad, it’s already out there.

I think the best way to think about that is if you’re not participating, it’s not like you’re invisible – you’re on “mute.” Someone can bash a bed-and-breakfast all they want. Just because you own that bed-and-breakfast and you don’t know about it doesn’t mean that other people are not watching.

How can businesses use location based apps like FourSquare and Gowalla?

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These location-based apps are really interesting, especially for offline businesses.

When I was in New York this past week meeting with a client, I was in an electronics store and there were signs all over the place that said, “Follow us on Twitter,” and “Be sure to check in on Foursquare.”

It’s a great way to build buzz without requiring a lot because people like to share where they are and what they’re doing. Just by doing that, they’ve essentially shared that business and increased its visibility among their friend circle.

I think it’s a very powerful tool, especially for offline businesses.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Twitter at @Shama. You can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/shamakabani. And you can find me at the video show if you want to see me at Shama.tv.

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To get Shama’s take on bookmarking sites, social media spam and where to get the best s’mores in Texas, be sure to check out the entire transcript here.

Rich Brooks shares his thoughts 140 characters at a time through his Twitter account.

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About the author

Rich Brooks is founder and president of flyte new media (http://www.flyte.biz), a Web design and Internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His monthly flyte log email newsletter and company blog (http://www.flyteblog.com) focus on Web marketing topics such as search engine optimization, blogs, social media, email marketing, and building Web sites that sell

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