If you aren’t using social media at all to promote your business, you’re missing a huge opportunity to get free promotion. Make it easy for people who like your business to tell their friends about it, and leverage the reach of the internet with the power of word-of-mouth advertising. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google + all offer unique promotion possibilities. To be successful however, you need to be saying or doing something different, that’s worth sharing. And at the very least, you need a functional website for your business.
I’ve just started exploring social media seriously myself, and am enjoying the learning process. One thing is certain: you can never know it all, because social media technology and trends change so fast. But don’t worry about being an expert–just get in the game, learn as you go, and have fun with it. Watch the latest episode of The New Entrepreneur to get started:
Action Steps for Success
These days, if your business doesn’t exist online, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers who use the web to find everything they need. If you don’t have a clue where to begin, here are ten things you can try to get started:
- Put up a decent website. This is the most crucial thing, so if you don’t have the time or interest in anything else I talk about here, please make sure you follow through with this one. Make sure all of your products and services are clearly identified and there are photos and prices posted whenever possible. Include a well-written ‘About’ page that describes your business, your mission, vision and values, and put up photos of yourself and your team. If your website is outdated, get it redesigned and write fresh new content for it ASAP. Media Temple and Blue Host are reliable website hosts.
- Consider creating a blog as part of your website, or create a blog instead of a static website to promote your business. Update it at least once a week with new, relevant content. WordPress is a great, free platform to build a blog with- it’s what I used to create PeaceAndProfit.com. Bonus tip – connect with other relevant blogs, and ask if you can do a guest post exchange: you write a post for them, and they write one for you. While some people see this as ‘collaborating with the enemy’, the web is really about collaboration and cooperation. And if you have a fishing store in Massachusetts, you aren’t in competition with a store in Ontario. Consider offering an incentive for readers of another business’s blog in another city to visit your store when they’re in town. You can also approach related businesses–like ones that sell boats or organize fishing tours–to collaborate online and offer deals together.
- Create a Facebook Fan Page. Post pictures of yourself, your team, your store, your products and services. Ask your friends, family, and existing customers to join. Put a link to this page on your website, and let new customers know they can get valuable updates and information there.
- Create a Twitter profile. Use a photo of yourself (a decent-quality headshot is best) and tweak the design of your page to match your website colors and design as much as possible. Again, ask friends, family and customers to follow you. Look for people who are interested in what you have to sell, and businesses who sell the same thing, and follow them. Your following will grow as you keep posting interesting and informative updates.
- Create a LinkedIn profile. Again, use a decent headshot of yourself. Connect with friends and former colleagues, ask people for references and write references for others. Tell people clearly and succinctly what products and services you offer.
- Get listed with Google Places to make sure you’re ‘on the map’. This increases your chances of being found online.
- Get reviewed. If there are websites that review businesses like yours, make sure your business is in their directory. This is especially key for restaurants and hotels, as there are several sites providing reviews so travellers know where to go when they’re in town. Encourage customers to share their positive experiences on these sites. Urban Spoon is an example of a popular website that reviews restaurants.
- Search for forums related to your business. I talk about the social media possibilities for a fishing store in this episode. If I ran a fishing shop, I would look for forums where people talk about any aspect of fishing, and look for questions I can answer about my local area, different types of fishing equipment, and anything else people need info about. By being consistently helpful, you build the “Know, Like & Trust” factor that keeps people coming back to you. This is a great way to connect with people and get to know the wants, needs, and frustrations of your target market. Make sure there is a link to your website at the end of your post so they can come to your site for more info.
- Create brief videos and upload them to YouTube, and your own website. Use video as a way to showcase and review products or explain a step-by-step procedure. The fishing store could show local lakes and fish species on camera. Videos do not have to be complicated, professionally filmed masterpieces. You can use your digital camera and a miniature tripod. Pretend you’re talking to a friend when you’re on camera – be relaxed, genuine, and engaging.
- Use the power of Amazon. Another massive website that gets tons of traffic, Amazon is a great place to connect with potential customers. Look for books and products related to your business, and provide helpful, detailed reviews of them. Create a complete reviewer profile, with your photo, information about your product or service, and a link to your website.
Last, but not least, I encourage you to follow me online! You can read about all my best business tips and tricks at my new blog PeaceAndProfit.com, follow me on Twitter, and “Like” my Facebook Fan Page to get more updates and useful information for entrepreneurs from me.