Guest post by Rebecca Malik, president of online contemporary furniture business 17th and Riggs. Rebecca thrives off of beautiful home design and explores related conversation at her blog The View from 17th and Riggs. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband (…and growing pet family). Rebecca welcomes your visit at her blog or www.Twitter.com/RebeccaSM.
As a follow up to my last post The Frugal Startup, I wanted to share some social media and marketing ideas to help you get started on your way to effectively building online visibility for your business.
1.) Blogging tools, tips, and online social networks
If you are serious about building your online presence these days, it may be almost a requirement to create your own blog. In addition to putting a face on your company, blogs are an excellent way to keep your site’s content fresh and keyword rich –- both of which the search engines love.
It also is a start to building community online around your business.
(below image Socially Awesome by Manu Contreras, Creative Commons)
You’ll want to research the platform options as they vary greatly (with some of the free blogger platforms being WordPress and Blogger. If you plan to have paid advertisements on your blog, be sure to choose a platform that allows this.
And ideally, your blog should be integrated into your website (if the blog itself isn’t your primary website).
Talk to your provider about the technicalities of doing so. Include your blog information in your profile on networking, business, or community sites relevant to who you are or what you do. Some popular ones that I like are LinkedIn (with more on creating great LinkedIn profiles at Chris Brogan’s place), Facebook (with more ideas for Facebook business uses and related profile tips at Success Blog Net), Savor the Success, and, of course, Women Grow Business.
2.) Favorite resources to market your business online
- Social Median: sends you news filtered to fit your interests
- My Venture Pad: gathers business information and insight
- Delicious: provides a place to share your favorite websites (including your own). In addition to posting your blog to Delicious, you can have your feed from your Delicious account post to your blog.
- Google Webmaster: serves as the control center for your web presence
- My Blog Log: tracks online blog communities
- Backtype: allows you to follow and share comments across the web
- 7 Main Street: creates an online marketplace for your products and other sites relevant to your product or field
- Twitter (where you can share very brief posts about any topic or what some call “microblogging”): Imagine the ability to post a quick status about, say, a project, event, great new idea, or even a link to interesting online news — all under 140 characters or less. Well that’s Twitter! Take a few minutes to explore it’s capabilities and you will recognize it as a fantastic tool to keep up with a large community of users, follow news and trends. It is a great way to learn about new tools and companies you may otherwise have never found! Here are some good Twitter guidelines too for getting started for your business.
The key to making the most of both your blog and social networks is to treat them as the community they are.
There is give and take and the more effort (comments, posts, shared thoughts, etc.) you put into it, the more you will get out of it (increased awareness of your brand and message, contacts to potentially work with or help you, and of course, better search engine rankings). Also, be wary not to use these networks as overt marketing channels as that is often considered spamming.
3.) Know your customers with online surveys and questionnaires
Its important to stay in touch with what your visitors and customers think of your product or service, as well as the workability and appearance of your website. To help you do this, there are many products out there to help you gather and sort feedback from your visitors. Collect important feedback from your visitors with companies such as Kampyle, 4Q Survey, Survey Monkey, or Constant Contact.
4.) Tools for Customer Relationship Management
To organize all of the new leads you’ll get from these sites and make the most of them, use a product such as Sugar CRM, (free versions available) or SalesForce. They will enable you communicate with your contacts in an organized way so that you don’t lose any of the opportunities you’ve worked so hard for.
5.) Learn what your website visitors really want through site analytics
Track your traffic down to the smallest detail using the wonderful (and free!) Google Analytics. Here you will see much more than simply how many visitors your site is getting, including what sources these visitors are coming from, what pages they are going to, and where they are leaving your site. This is an amazing tool to help you improve your site. Other options include Have a Mint and Omniture.
I found the above really helpful and hope you will too. I’d love to hear if you have any other suggestions or comments about the above.
- Amber Naslund at Altitude Branding on measuring and valuing data related to your online presence;
- Solutions Are Power and Steve Fisher’s tip-rich, actionable steps for enacting small business marketing plans;
- Grow Smart Business and its small business index; see how your business compares to competition on a range of issues.