Stamping Your Web Presence With Social Media: A Beginner’s Guide
The marketing game has changed forever. Whereas once upon a time it was all about televised and printed ads, now, the only way you’re going to get your business noticed is if you can be found on the web. Let’s face it – nearly everybody these days verifies a company’s validity by doing a quick Google search. And, if said company doesn’t turn out to have a website, then you can rest assured that those prospective customers will start seeking out a direct competitor who does.
It’s long been said that if you don’t have a website then you don’t have a business. And for quite a while now that little adage has been extended – if you don’t have a blog then you don’t have a website. Nowadays, that little pearl of wisdom can be taken even further – if you don’t have social media presence (i.e. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn and Pinterest etc., etc., etc.) then you don’t have a blog.
So, let’s condense this maxim right down to its bare bones and then take it from there:
If you don’t use social media, you don’t have a business.
Is It Really As Cut And Dry As That?
Ok, so, you might well be in a position where you can mount quite a convincing argument against that statement – you’re running a relatively successful business and have never posted a tweet in your life.
And, while that will almost certainly be true for a lot of companies, the fact remains that more and more business is being conducted online as time ticks by, and if you’re not asserting your presence through as many channels as possible, then you’re opening the door for the competition who most certainly will be.
Things might be going ok for you right now, but the internet is the future, and if you’re not riding the wave already then you need some serious surfing lessons without delay.
Where To Start
Facebook. With 1.39 billion users, Facebook is the biggest social network in the world by far. So, the first thing that you need to be doing is setting up a business page and start amassing followers, next you will need to do the same for Twitter and LinkedIn. The game of growing your network on these sites essentially boils down to the same tactic (in the first instance anyway). As soon as you’ve signed up, start following other tweeters, inviting people to like your Facebook page, and sending out connection requests on LinkedIn. It will be a slow start for sure, but you will quickly find that a certain number of those people will follow back, like and connect respectively.
Warning: Do not overdo this. All social media websites have algorithms in place to try and detect spammers. If, for instance, you decide to follow 1,000 users on Twitter in one sitting, you will more than likely find yourself banned from the network before the day is out. Limit yourself to no more than 20 follows per site per day.
After a week or so you will have started to grow a modest following. It won’t be anything to get too excited about, but by now you will have gotten used to how each of these platforms work and run. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you fill in every single field of your About Pages – your fans and followers will want to know exactly who you are and what you do, so make sure you provide them with this information. But, to really add value to your social media networks, you need now to start creating content that can be shared.
Remember at the start of this post where we said that if you don’t have a blog then you don’t have website (which by extension means that you don’t have a business)? Well, now is the time to start blogging
To really stamp your presence on the web, you need to be producing a regular stream of well-written and researched content that you will provide for free for your dedicated followers. Regular blogging is a great way of attracting new visitors to your website, and get old ones returning again and again. And the best way to advertise your new (and old) blog posts is through your social media channels. Importantly, your blog should not just be about self-promotion. That’s not how modern day social media marketing works. People are being bombarded with advertisements left, right and centre, and they’re as sick of it as you are. Instead what you want to try and do is add value to your business by providing free information that is delivered engagingly and entertainingly.
This is the purpose of your blog. If you’re a hardware store and make your bread and butter through selling paint, then, don’t just write blogs on how your emulsion is better than anyone else’s in the business – anyone can do that, and your followers won’t thank you for it – but instead write a series of interesting blogs that offer a detailed discussion on the best colours to paint your kitchen/bathroom/bedroom/what have you.
This adds great value for your potential customers, and you will much more likely inspire them to get painting rather than persistently demanding that they buy your product. The idea is that you start to position yourself as more than just a sales outfit – you’re an expert, an industry authority and thought leader in your field. You will begin to open up a discussion with your prospective customers, and before you know it you’ll have a glowing online reputation and your web traffic will start to reach new heights. (Look out for our next blog where we will discuss the power of blogging in greater depth.)
Engage With Your Following on Social Media
One of the best things about social media is that it provides the perfect platforms on which you can humanize your business. As your following grows and you are providing more and more great content, you will find that an increasing amount of your audience will start to leave comments and questions on your posts. Be sure to respond to every single one of these, as this is what will lend the human touch to your business. Your followers will start to appreciate you as more than just a faceless brand, but as a real person – and this is much more preferable.
And the more you are seen to engage with your following, the more you will encourage your other followers to engage with you also. Once this starts to happen then those followers will be much more likely the share and like your content, giving it even greater reach across the internet, meaning that your web presence will only grow and grow and grow.
Establishing a solid web presence through social media is not going to happen over night. If you’re new to the game, then there are already a lot of well-established players out there that you’re going to have to go up against. It’s a numbers game, but a meaningful one. The bigger your presence on social media, the more avenues you’ll have to direct people to your site. And the more traffic you get, the more conversions you’ll achieve. And more conversions mean more business, and that’s what it’s all about.