In the previous installment we learned how checking the needs of our users and potential users and seeing to them can help establish us as the authority, the hub and community of our own brand.

This in turn makes us the source of reference instead of our detractors or competitors.

Working our way up from the bottom, the most obscure questions and concerns, to the top, the money terms and traffic generators for our products and services, we build a mushrooming clouds of content that in turn receives an ever-growing network of incoming links from people giving answers and suggestions to their friends; they, experts to their friends and family, use our answer's as a source of reference, as a way to back up their argument, as a helpful resource, in the same way that other people will link to an entry in the dictionary or encyclopedia.

Now this is all interesting as a social marketing experiment, where we build an ever-expanding network of "social friends". It's nice too that every now and then a sale is generated via this network. Sure.

But the real richness, the real ROI, in his model are the virtual and emotional links that are being established.

Whether it's the old search model of Google or in the "new" social search model Google -- the rich will always get richer (PDF); those with mind share will get more mind share and those with links will get more links.

In six installments we've seen how the traditional method of one-to-many can be replaced with the new method of one-on-one; how to use existing technology to find those individuals that you should engage with one-on-one; how to use that one-on-one conversation not as yet another sales pitch but to create lasting helpful content; how to mirror the language of those individuals so other like minded people find this similar content; in order to get linked and referenced; with the important payoff of ever-growing concentric circles of search and mind share.

It's my opinion that for an online company to be successful, or for a company to be successful online they have to; perform search engine optimization in order to reach the masses and track and analyze the performance of the optimization via analytics; perform social media marketing to engage individuals and finally the crowd, the way described in this series, and follow-up with usability analytics to see how those individuals perform on the website.

It's also my opinion that the part of social media marketing should be handled by a dedicated person but I full well understand that many a company can't afford that level of dedication either in human resources or in finances.

I guess that's where the sales pitch comes in and I'd say; well, we provide those services - we are that dedicated person for your company. Get a quote or setup a meeting. Why not?

Recommended related reading:

Open letter to CEO's: Don't Cut Social Media Staff (Shel Israel):
"Social media people cost little budget except their employment packages. They are on the front line where change is going to be first detected. They don't place ads in media where most people who hear or see the message don't matter. They just follow conversations that can make a difference to you."

Deeper vs Broader: Exposure vs Engagement (Aaron Wall):
"If the web keeps getting more saturated, more relevant, more biased, with more niche competitors, and people are willing to give away content to help do their marketing, then eventually the user engagement with your content becomes far more important than what you advertise. Content is advertising."

Standing Out In Social Media - Miss Manners or Mis-Behavior (Barry Welford):
"One of the most interesting and exciting phenomena that has been created by the Internet is online communities or social media as they are sometimes called. Just think how often you hear the words, FaceBook or Twitter. It is a natural evolution from the connectedness of the Internet that was heralded in the Clue Train Manifesto."

How To Build A Query Space (Michael Martinez)
"By moving away from the competitive crowd they became the leaders in a new crowd (in effect, drawing the crowd toward them)"

Image courtesy of ItzaFineDay