If you are looking to expand your small business on the world wide web, having a healthy marketing budget can get you in front of your online customers quickly. However, when you are trying to grow a business in a tough economic climate like Detroit, chances are you don’t have an expendable budget for your online marketing. So how can you fulfill your online marketing needs without breaking the bank?
We all have heard of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, etc., mainly for recreational use. These channels can also serve as very fertile networking grounds for your business. It comes down to the age-old method of building relationships with people and building awareness of your brand. With proper planning and maintenance, Social Media networks are an effective way to target your audience, and develop a following for your brand. Let’s take a closer look at some popular Social Media outlets (also check out the video on the left):
- Facebook: As touched on before, Facebook is used mainly for recreational use to network with friends and family. This type of practice involves creating a Facebook “page” for yourself. Professionally, however, you will create a “business” or “fan” page. The main difference is you don’t have to accept friend requests for Facebook users to connect with your “fan” page. Users can “like” your page and be immediately connected. The “fan” page also allows the ability to launch advertising campaigns, create custom Apps, and connect with other Social Media outlets.
- Twitter: Twitter can be considered as a “mini-blog”, in the sense that you are posting articles no bigger than 140 characters at a time. Just like with the Facebook “fan” page, other Twitter users can “follow” you without any permission or requests. Twitter allows you to search conversations and topics using keywords, which is a great way to target your potential customers. The most effective Twitter practice for business is to post photos, videos, testimonials, and links that bring attention to your brand.
- YouTube: Let’s face it, people nowadays would rather watch a video than read. YouTube serves as vast pool of public videos that can be viewed and shared across the web. Businesses with demonstration videos or commercials should make an effort to host their videos on YouTube. By creating a “channel” you can upload, edit, and share your videos transparently. By cultivating videos on YouTube, you can share them seamlessly across your other Social Media outlets, and embed them into your website(s). In addition, by properly tagging your videos with relevant keywords, your videos will pop up in the search engines results, giving your website/brand more visibility. Think of YouTube as a content farm that feeds your website and Social Media outlets.
- Google+: Google recently introduced its version of Facebook, called Google+. Google+ allows you to create a business-based page, similar to Facebook. In addition, Google+ has absorbed the function of Google Places for your business, and helps boost your search engine presence locally (see my article on Local Search Optimization).
There are a variety of other Social Media outlets to consider for your business, however the above mentioned are the most popular for businesses and consumers. Remember, using these Social Media outlets are free, but at the same time require a significant amount of time to be successful. If you can successfully plan and maintain your Social Media channels, you will be satisfied with your ROI (Return On Investment). But in order to accomplish this, be sure to contact a Social Media professional first. Thanks for reading.