Melinda Emerson is one of the USA’s leading small business experts, the New York Times’ social media columnist, Twitter’s @SmallBizLady, and host of this week’s Social: Bigger, Better, Faster! webinar.
Social media is no longer an option: it’s a necessity to grow or launch a small business. But before you start knocking yourself out tweeting or figuring out how to start using Pinterest, make sure you have a few things in place before launching a social media marketing campaign. You will need to make sure your website is ready for a close-up, that you know who you want to target online and which social media site you’ll want to start with initially. If you want to use social media bigger, better, and faster way, try these 7 tactics to grow your online brand.
Listen First: Before jumping on any social media site, make sure that you know where your best target customer hangs out online. This will help you focus your marketing efforts and be strategic with time. Take the time to learn the culture of each social media site you wish to use. You don’t want to look like a newbie or risk offending someone. For example: Facebook people do not want to be talked to like they are twitter people using hashtags, etc.
Focus Your Website: Make sure that your website tells visitors instantly how you can help them. Your banner artwork and tagline are the most important elements of a strong website. It should feature helpful content, be up to date, and load quickly.
Create a Valuable Offer: Building a prospect list is a key function of a website. Have at least three ways to engage prospects on your website to gain their contact information. Offer a free quote, product sample or invite them to signup for a free newsletter. Consider developing some valuable content such as a white paper or eBook as a free download offer. On my blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com, I give away a free chapter of my bestselling book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. You can always provide a 10-point checklist highlighting your customer’s biggest pain point, such as “10 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Small Business”.
Develop a Content Strategy: Compelling content is currency online. If you have the ability to generate helpful content you will quickly build a brand online. Decide first whether you will write blogs, create podcasts, or Youtube videos to build your thought leadership and your business brand. Initially, the content that you share should not be your own. I suggest using a 4:1 ratio of sharing other people’s content over your own.
Spend Time Friendraising: Before you launch your content online, it will be important to start building relationships with other thought leaders in your industry. You need to position yourself as a resource. Spend a few months on your #1 social media platform sharing other people’s content and answers questions. When you start generating content, keep in mind that professional blogs are updated at least two to three times a week. Consistency is a key ingredient in social media success.
It’s All About Attraction Marketing: Focus on becoming part of the online community by looking for ways to be helpful. No one wants to be sold to. If you do your job well, sharing and creating valuable content, your best target customers will flock to buy from your business. Obviously you want to sell things, but don’t let that be your only agenda for participating in social media.
Using social media is a long-tail marketing strategy. You will not see instant results, the minute you start using social media networking sites. You must put real work in building relationships online. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter all at one time. You only need to make your mark on one social media platform to grow your business.
For more tips on growing your business using social media, check out Melinda’s eBook How to Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 ways to dominate your competition online.