When most people think of using the internet for marketing their business, they think of either creating their own websites or using popular social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to spread the word about their company. While these are very valuable and important social media tools that every business owner should be using, many people miss out on another powerful marketing option, one that is almost always free. That option is blogging, and it has the power to boost your business, help you gain more customers, and help you to form strong, loyal relationships with the customers you already have.
Setting up a blog is incredibly easy with free sites like Blogger, WordPress, Xanga, Livejournal, and more. You can create posts dealing with issues that are pertinent to your business or to your clientele, and you can tag them with easily searchable keywords to draw in more visitors. Having a blog is a great way to keep your customers up to date on your company’s happenings and also helps you to form a personable, trustworthy relationship with them. Your blog can be as creative or as straightforward as you like. One thing is for sure though: it will definitely help you in the long run!
If you’re not already taking advantage of the vast amount of free social media sites available to help you market your business or services, then now is definitely the time to start. Never before have there been so many marketing outlets which receive such a vast amount of visitors per day and, best of all, these sites are simple to navigate and use, and most accounts are free to set up. In order to help you get started or to figure out where you’re not marketing but should be, we’ve compiled a quick list of some of the best social media marketing sites:
Facebook: Similar to the formerly popular Myspace, Facebook is a social media platform where individual users, as well as businesses, can create profiles. You can connect with hundreds of people – and the “friends” of those people – just by creating a profile for your business.
Twitter: Twitter is a fast working marketing tool that allows you to “tweet” short messages to your “followers.” It’s a great way to keep your customers updated on the latest happenings with your business.
Youtube: A free site to post advertising, funny clips, promotions, and more to be seen by the entire world.
When many people think of internet marketing, they automatically get overwhelmed. Some even consider internet marketing to be too vast and technological a strategy for them to even think about implementing. What a lot of these individuals don’t realize, however, is that some of the things we do in our everyday lives can be used as powerful internet marketing tools.
Take the signature at the bottom of your email, for example. Even if you don’t have one personally, you’ve probably seen them on other people’s emails. Signatures, which are free to use and instantly customizable, are a big waste of space if all they have is your name or a catchy quote. Instead, use this space to market your business by including an ad, a clickable picture, or just the URL to your company’s website.
Also, everyone knows how to send out an email, so why not create an email newsletter for your business? Inserting pictures is made easy with email programs that allow you to copy and paste, or you can get brave and try out some basic HTML for a fancier look. There are also programs out there, like Constant Contact, that can provide you with templates and walk you through creating newsletters. Starting with small marketing steps such as these is an easy way to make big changes.
When social media sites, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, got their start a few years ago, they were all about fun and connecting people. They were tools used by people who wanted to connect with their friends, share pictures, and basically just have a nice distraction from the stresses of life. Today, though, social media sites aren’t just used for fun and games anymore. Instead, they are a powerful way to raise awareness about your business, to promote it, to solidify relationships with current clients, to bring in new customers, and to make additional sales.
If you’re ready to take the challenge and bring your company or business onto the social media sites, then you should start right away. You can choose to hire a social media consultant to help you get the most marketing potential out of your social media site(s), or you can do it yourself for free. It’s important to know who your target audience is when creating such a site, so that you will “speak their language” and write your content and design your general page to appeal to them. Always be friendly but professional on your company’s social media site and gain as many “friends” or “followers” as possible by encouraging current friends and followers to tell their own friends and followers in turn.
If you currently own a small business and you aren’t involved in internet marketing, then you’re really missing out on a great opportunity to promote your business and draw in new clients. For many, though, the concept of internet marketing can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why taking small initial steps is a good idea when you’re first getting started.
One very simple thing you can do to start internet marketing is to create what is known as an “online presence” for your business. You can do this by choosing to create a website, either using a free hosting service or purchasing your own domain, by setting up your own blog, or even by signing up for a social media site like Facebook or Twitter. Once you get comfortable with one of these areas, then you can branch out and make a name for yourself in all of them.
The rest should come naturally once you’ve gotten your feet wet. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to follow through with a particular marketing plan; just go with the flow. If, for example, you start getting a lot of traffic to your website, then take the next step and set up online shopping capabilities. Take your time and learn all you need to in order to be successful with online marketing.
If you own your own business, then you should know that you absolutely need to be hooked up to all the social media outlets! For those unfamiliar with the term “social media,” this refers to sites, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter where people go to interact socially and to network. Recently, however, it’s become a vast marketing field for business owners who set up their own “profiles” and then ask their loyal clients to “friend” or “like” them. This, in turn, leads to more social media users finding out about the company or business and voila—free advertising plus customer retention!
The best part of all is that most social media sites are absolutely free, and you don’t have to have a lot of technological savvy to use them either. You simply set up an account for your business or company, follow the simple instructions to design your page, and then get to work finding “friends” or “followers” depending on the site you’re using. While you can hire an online image consultant, it’s quite simple to set up your social media pages yourself, and for best results, you’ll want to use as many different outlets as you possibly can to reach the widest range of people.
One reason that it’s so very important to participate in internet or online marketing for your business is simply because doing so allows you to reach an entirely new and untapped market. If you operate a business that is currently only in one physical location, for example, then you’re only able to draw in customers who happen to live in your town or end up shopping there for whatever reason. If you’re not in a major city or even if you are, you’re severely limiting yourself in the terms of the amount and types of customers you can draw in, and the bad thing is that you don’t have to. In today’s high tech internet age, there’s no excuse not to branch out.
Many people worry that online marketing is going to be too expensive, but the truth of the matter is you can do online marketing at a basic level for free. You can design a simple website for free, even without a lot of tech knowledge, and spread the word yourself through email or an online newsletter. And no business is too small to benefit from online marketing. In fact, online marketing is what takes many small businesses and turns them into widely known powerhouses.
Social media can be a useful tool for link building when you are constrained by a tight budget. Strategically using sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as forums and blogs, can offer you some quick and inexpensive ways to build your company’s brand.
Writing guest posts on blogs is a great way to build your brand. Through guest posts, you can link back to your own website, build brand visibility among the followers of that blog, and become a larger part of the blogging community.
There are several approaches that work well in accomplishing this objective. You can find sites that contain posts on a subject where you have a differing point of view and request to post your take on the topic. You can pick blogs with posts containing ideas you can expand on and flesh out with further posts. Finally, you can select blogs that pertain to your brand and ask to become a regular contributor.
Use social media pages to link back to your site. Give updates through these pages. Do promotions. With the burgeoning popularity of social media networks, the word-of-mouth you spread for your brand will be priceless down the road.
As part of its upcoming public launch of Google+ at the end of July, Google will rebrand products such as Blogger and Picasa. The search giant intends to retire non-Google names currently in use and replace them with Google names in an effort to unify its brand.
To this end, Blogger will be renamed Google Blogs and Picasa will be renamed Google Photos. The rebranding is in preparation for the introduction of the new Google + to the public. Google + is set to become the company’s answer to Facebook. It will allow Google users to create profiles similar to Facebook pages and create a new social network.
Google initially acquired Blogger in 2003 and Picasa in 2004. Rebranding these sites is not without precedent. In 2006, Google acquired JotSpot and rebranded it as Google Sites a scant two years later. Then, in 2007, Google acquired GrandCentral and changed it to Google Voices in 2009.
One brand that will emerge unscathed from these rebranding efforts is YouTube. The popular video sharing site will retrain the name that made it famous. Efforts by Google to test out a similar Google Videos site proved unsuccessful and it was shut down permanently in May.
Remember the tech bubble that happened in 2001-2003? And of course we are all too aware of the nasty housing bubble we’re still living through right now. So is there a social media bubble in our future?
LinkedIn recently had a very successful IPO that resulted in a more than $8 Billion valuation on offering day. The company priced their shares at $45 and the opening trades went for as high as $90. I just checked the ticker symbol LNKD and shares are currently trading at $76. That’s still a huge valuation for a company that only had a $15.4 Million profit on revenue of $234 Million in 2010. A valuation of over 500 times earnings might be considered social media bubble fuel.
Pandora will follow in LinkedIn’s footsteps tomorrow with their own IPO. The initial offering will price the shares at around $16 per share. That would put Pandora’s valuation somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.6 Billion. Could be more if the frenzy is anything like it was for LinkedIn. Keep in mind that although LinkedIn is profitable, Pandora is not. And their most recent SEC filing sets the expectation that losses will continue through at least 2012. The Pandora numbers look much more like fuel for any social media bubble that may be looming.
Does any of this sound familiar? Remember all the tech companies at the turn of the century that issued stock at huge valuations while either losing money or making modest profits on modest sales? And the biggest question of all is how will any of this effect the longevity of social media companies? It will be interesting to see how these business models settle out in the days ahead.
One thing is for sure, consumers have a huge appetite for social media companies like Facebook with more than 500 Million users and Twitter with over 175 million users. What say you… social media bubble or just the beginning of huge profits for these companies in the days ahead?