It’s easy to look at the engagement big brands get on social media, and despair. With Coca-Cola and Starbucks et al getting thousands of likes, comments and shares every time they post something, small businesses can start to wonder how on earth they can get noticed in the swirling online maelstrom.
Without putting too much of a downer on things, it’s going to be a big ask to get to the same levels of online exposure as big brands such as Coke. Many already had a firm place in societal consciousness before the internet was even a thing, as well as the money and resources to make the most of it when it became one.
However, small businesses shouldn’t be disheartened by this. The internet is big enough for everyone, and there are a few proven strategies which can help even startups improve their online exposure – all for little or no expenditure.
If a business has a new product or service to launch, one of the best things they can do to get the word out there is to engage with critics. Look up the sites which regularly publish reviews of similar products or services and get in touch with them.
Most will ask for a free sample of the product or service – it’s important for reviewers to get free products as financial investment can influence opinion – so be prepared to supply them with some.
With a new product line, free samples are no big ask. However, with a service, it’s a bit more complex. Businesses may need to be prepared to provide an element of the service for free to garner a review. Trial keys for software are simple enough, but a catering or cleaning company will need to think outside the box a little.
Once a review is produced – assuming it’s favourable – the audience of the reviewer can be co-opted for promotional means. Not only will the reviewer themselves most likely be publishing articles relating to the product on their feeds, but tagging them, including quotes from the review etc. in one’s own posts will increase exposure even further.
Niche celebrities, influencers, thought leaders – these are all terms regularly used in marketing which basically refer to the same thing. Influencers are well known and highly regarded figures within any given field.
They are the ones who have (relatively) huge social media followings, loads of shares for their posts and blogs, and pop up regularly in those “Top Accounts You Should Be Following” type articles.
The great thing about influencers is – like everybody – they have egos. People like to be told their opinions are valued, and this is how influencers can be leveraged to help boost visibility.
Asking them to look at a press release, or the product itself, and share their thoughts is a great way to get them on board. Influencers may have egos, but they should not be thought of as fools. They’re savvy people, and it’s going to be clear to them what the real motivation is for getting in touch with them.
Therefore, it’s important to approach them in a respectful manner, and to be very clear what is wanted from them.
Influencers are generally very busy, so they are unlikely to have time to get into a protracted discussion. They need to know at a glance what the contact is about, and why it would be of interest to them.
Publishing regular articles, blogs, white papers, eBooks, etc. is one of the best methods a business can employ to boost their visibility – both on social media, and in the eyes of Google.
Long gone is the day where businesses could publish poorly written blogs, stuffed with invisible and/or irrelevant keywords, and containing links to gambling and other unsavoury sites. Since Google brought the SEO hammer down with its Penguin algorithm, these kinds of sites have found it harder and harder to game the system.
Now Google can detect not only keywords and links, but also whether the copy itself is grammatically and syntactically well written, and of a quality likely to be enjoyable to read. These changes to Google’s algorithms make it even more crucial for businesses to ensure professional and experienced writers are producing their content.
Everyone and their cat is on social media these days, and there are seemingly tons of platforms businesses can use to get their message out there. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious kings of the castle but there are loads of others who offer something a bit different.
Instagram is great for visual brands for example. If a business is selling food or fashion etc. then Instagram and a fistful of hashtags are the way to go. Whereas an overabundance of hashtags on Twitter is considered bad form, on Instagram the philosophy is – the more the merrier.
The list doesn’t stop there, however, and Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ et al can all offer something unique to brands who know how best to use them.
Beyond any of the more recognisable social media brands, there is a whole load of niche networks which can be employed. These will have audiences which seem almost laughable when compared to the big players already discussed, but to dismiss them out of hand would be folly.
While it’s true these social networks have comparatively small followings, the audience is far more focussed than on somewhere such as Facebook.
Therefore, if there exists a social media platform designed exclusively for the audience which a business is looking to target, it can provide a valuable way to get the message to the people it needs to.
Managing social media can be a full-time endeavour, which is why many small businesses choose to employ the services of an experienced digital marketing team to handle the heavy lifting on their behalf.
Whether posting content on your website, or sharing insights on social media, it’s important for businesses to engage with their audience. People like to get replies, so make sure to respond to comments on articles and social media posts.
Depending on the size of your followings this may not always be practical, or even possible, but dropping in a quick “thanks for your comment” where able can boost engagement.
Don’t forget, Facebook et al use engagement as a way of ranking posts. This is the reason why there are so many of those inane posts which offer up a ridiculously easy question as a “challenge.” The entire purpose of posts like those is to get as many people to comment as possible and boost their visibility.
We are in no way suggesting spam tactics are the way to do things, but anything you can do to promote discussion is going to boost visibility.
Running competitions is a really good way of achieving this. Invite people to answer a question, as well as liking the page and sharing the post, will promote discussion and organically spread the reach of the post. Being able to view all the names who liked, commented, and shared, makes it simple to choose one at random to determine a winner.
I know we said there would be five proven strategies, but we’ve decided to give an extra one away for free. If you’re struggling with your online visibility and you’d like to employ the services of an experienced and professional marketing team to make sure your business gets noticed online, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with markITwrite today.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you.
Beth Powell, Expeed Software
Doug Nebeker, Power Admin
Denise Darienzo, net2phone
Viktoriya Gorod, Starwind Software
Bill Lewis, New Offerings