Ok, so you’ve tuned up your website and everyone you show it to loves it. Now, how do you attract visitors? Here is an easy plan to get started.
First, put your website address on EVERYTHING. Business cards, letterhead, email signature blocks (not always an intuitive process, but you only have to do it once). Anywhere you would put your name and contact information should have your website address too. Think of it as part of your branding.
Of course, this step only works for people you are already in touch with. Reaching new customers and keeping existing ones engaged (without spending a lot of $$$ on advertising) is what this Blog is all about. Aside from the obvious advantage of being free, the benefits of social media channels are:
- Social Media helps your SEO, which is how search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing and others) find you. It is better to have at least one or two that are updated regularly and that people interact with rather than lots of social channels that you don’t use.
- Social Media puts your message/products in front of customers on a medium they are already viewing a lot. (Think of billboards and why they are located on major thoroughfares).
- People who join/follow/like your social media profile become ambassadors to an even larger audience. When they like or share your content, their connections (who may have never heard of you before) will see it too.
Yes, there are more social channels all the time, so which ones should you use? Don’t make the mistake of trying to be everywhere at once! Since they each have their specialties, I recommend picking one or two based on your particular product/service and goals. (Important note: you should sign up for a business page on each social media channel you use. This is separate from your personal profile.)
For now. I’ll give a brief overview of the top options and get into explaining the nuances of each in some future posts.
Facebook – Probably the widest-used and the easiest to get started by networking with your existing contacts. However, due to internal changes and the sheer number of businesses using Facebook, it is getting increasingly harder to get organic views (the ones you don’t pay for).
Pinterest – Started out as a way to create wishlists and is now one of the top selling channels. Pinterest is excellent for such visual products as art, crafts and clothes, but it does take some time and effort to build up an audience.
Twitter – Home of the 140-character limit, tweets are most useful for announcing upcoming special events or sales (or your opinion on breaking news), but not as much for sharing links or information that takes more than a handful of words. Twitter is also being used by a growing number of people as an alternative direct messaging tool.
Google+ – The newcomer to the social media party, Google+ tends to provide fewer interactions with friends (called “circles”), yet increases search engine visibility dramatically. When my clients ask why they should be on Google+, I simply say “Because Google uses it.” Enough said?
Instagram – The ultimate in visual channels, it is designed to share photos and images – not so much for direct sales. The audience is young, techno-savvy and has the latest devices, so your uploads need to be high quality. Also, due to its origins, most users go there to look rather than shop. You’ll get great exposure for your visual products and can build a fan base quickly, but you’ll have to lead them to an external site where they can buy.
Blogging and Newsletters – Not exactly what most people consider social media, but both go straight to customers who already want to hear from you. Blog posts are a great way to keep your website fresh (search engines LOVE websites that are frequently updated). They also provide out-of-the-box content for your social media channels, which, in turn, drives people back to your website. Email newsletters/announcements may seem soooo last decade, but remain the most effective way to get in front of existing and potential customers (and, again, direct them to your website). There is a reason why presidential candidates rely so heavily on email for fundraising and motivating people to go to the polls.
If you are just getting started on Social Media for your business, I recommend setting up a Facebook business page and Google+. Once regularly updating your social media has become routine for you, you can pick one or two of the other channels to conquer.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned for upcoming posts about what kind of content best promotes your business, the dos and don’ts of social media, and easy (free) tools to manage multiple channels!