Scott Parker Consultancy

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Promote your business online: Getting started with social media

Social media is everywhere these days – you can’t even listen to a radio show for five minutes without hearing somebody’s tweets – and increasingly you’ll see businesses big and small using the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn to sell you their wares.

You might be asking yourself whether you really need to get involved with social media to promote your business, but given that it’ll take very little of your time and cost you no money to get going, then there really is no excuse not to.

I’ll assume you already use Facebook, so we’ll start there – apologies if you are one of those that understandably abstains. The first thing you should do is get a Facebook Page for your business. This is similar to your personal page, but what you put on there will be available to all.

It is simple to get started, you just need to add some basic details about your business, making sure you include your website address and how people can get hold of you, and you’re on your way.

Your page will look a little dull without further content, however, so upload some pictures of your work or other photos and maybe write a little more about what you do. You then want to announce your news regularly via status updates – so tell people if you have launched a new product or that you are going to an event, anything that your potential customers might be interested in.

Of course, if you want to promote your business you need to tell people about it. The first step is to invite all your friends to ‘Like’ your page. This means your updates will show up on their news feeds and with any luck they will share your updates with their friends who will hopefully Like your page too and so on.

It is also worth adding a link to your Facebook page on your website and maybe even on your email signature. In fact, the more places you mention it the more likely people are to visit.

Now, creating a Facebook page isn’t going revolutionise your business overnight. Progress might well be very slow at first, but gradually you will build up more likes and more people will see what you have to say. You don’t have to post things every day (that might actually be annoying), but the more regular your updates, the more likely that people will notice you. Try to lead people back to your site, to take up a special offer or read your latest blog post for example. Ultimately you want them to get in touch with you and hand over some cash.

One of the most important visitors you’ll get is Google. Getting a decent search engine ranking is largely about getting strong links to back to your website, so links on a ‘quality’ site like Facebook could give you a significant boost.

For more tips on Facebook marketing, take a look at Facebook Timeline: 9 Best Practices for Brands and 10 Facebook Marketing Mistakes to Avoid on Mashable.

Once you are done with Facebook, pop along to LinkedIn. The process is similar – you can set up a company profile and post updates that will be seen by people that follow your business – but there is much more you can do with your personal profile too.

LinkedIn has a more professional focus and your connections are just as likely to be colleagues than friends. People connect to you because they are interested in what you do and how you can help them, rather than because they want to hear all the latest gossip.

Build up your connections with whoever you can – you’ll find that most people will accept, even if they barely know you – and then post updates regularly so they are reminded who you are.  If you connect to customers that are happy with your work, encourage them to give you a ‘Recommendation’ that will appear on your profile – this is a great way to impress potential clients.

You should also join some groups and post comments there – you’ll find dozens of local business networks and groups focussed on whatever industry you are in. If people are interested in what you have to say, it’ll boost your credibility and they’ll hopefully drop you a line.

There is much more you can do – see 4 Pillars Of LinkedIn Marketing For Businesses for some ideas

Then there is Twitter. Personally, I’m not a great fan of Twitter, but I recognise that it is a necessary evil that can be a powerful marketing tool. It is certainly worth getting an account and you should at least Tweet all things you have posted on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles – there are apps that will do this automatically so you don’t have to keep doing the same thing in several places.

Twitter can be hard work because you really have to be pretty active for it to be effective. But if you build up your followers – which is largely done by following others, who will often return the compliment – and write useful, well-targeted snippets with links back to your website, then the rewards can be significant.

For more Twitter tips, take a look at How to Get More Twitter Followers (The Ultimate Twitter Tips Guide).

There are plenty of companies that will manage all your social media campaigns for you, but if you are on a tight budget and are prepared to put in the time, then it is worth thinking about how you can develop your online presence further. Social media is no miracle cure but like all marketing, if you get it right then success will follow.