Friday, 25 February 2011

How to promote your business II: Social networking

It's been a bit of a crazy week since my last post! My part time job has increased my hours due to good performance which I'm over the moon about of course but it does eat into time I can dedicate to my other pursuits, such as this blog! Unfortunately the part time job only runs for about a month each term which is coming to a close at the end of next week so I'm making the most of it while it's still around. Hourly pay may not earn you as much as being self employed but it is nice to know you're guaranteed a certain amount of income!

Now let's get on with the show. This week I intend to write about my experiences using social networking for promoting your business. Social networking has exploded in popularity in the last few years and there are a lot of people who claim to make a living out of it. With over 500 million users on Facebook alone it's certainly a very powerful tool if you can get a decent following but that would be glossing over the hardest part.

Facebook

Last week I touched on using Facebook ads to help promote your business which has been successful for me. In addition to this you can set up a Facebook page for your business; it's completely free so I really recommend doing this. A page acts much like a profile: you can upload pics, people can like your page and follow you as well as post comments.

The good thing about a page is once you get a following going it starts to practically advertise itself, sort of like a snowball getting bigger and bigger by itself as it rolls down a snowy hill. You can post comments, pictures, links and lots more to your pages wall which anyone can 'like' - this will then show people on their friend feeds your update which in turn will draw more people in!

Twitter

Twitter can be thought of as a more streamlined version of Facebook: you can write limited comments on your 'wall' which get retweeted (people repeat them to their own followers) rather than liked. You're limited to 10 characters and any pictures or videos you want to show off must be included as a link.

I must admit I'm not as familiar with Twitter so my focus will be on Facebook but the ideas in the guide below will generally work the same for Twitter.

Creating Your Page

To start the ball rolling you need to create a page for your business. This is easily done following instructions on Facebook or Twitter so I won't go into them here. Once it's up and running you should fill it with as much relevant information as possible - photos, links to your business, anything you can think of about your business that people will be interested in. If you're a bit more technology savvy then you should consider creating a custom landing page on Facebook or theme on Twitter which can be dressed up to look pretty and enticing.

Spreading the Word

Here is the hardest part - you need to come up with regular, likeable content yourself before you can start getting other people to spread the word for you. Since the content will be specific for your business I can only give a very general guide here.

At the very start I recommend using Facebook ads to promote your page. I spent about £10 and got about 100 followers which is a nice starting base to build upon. From here you need to encourage these people to add their friends or 'like' your stuff so their friends will see it. Since it's by no means a big commitment people will tend to 'like' most inane comments, links and pictures so this is less difficult than it sounds. Ask easily answerable questions, post generic but relevant quotes, post funny pictures. There are a lot of people browsing Facebook while at school/work so they're basically just looking for an excuse to kill time. If you can provide for them then you'll reap the rewards.

Monetising Your Audience

So you've worked hard and gained a sizeable audience. Firstly you need to bear in mind that people can unfollow/unlike your page so to avoid slipping back you're going to need to come up with content on a regular basis!

It's great having a large group of people interested in your business but what we really want to do is monetise this opportunity. For the purposes of this blog this means getting more people to buy your products. This can be done as easily as posting updates when new products arrive or showing off your most popular products periodically but there are some clever methods you can use to encourage people to buy your product while also being able to track exactly what sales came from Facebook/Twitter (for online businesses at least).

  • Competitions - You can hold simple competitions on Facebook/Twitter which encourage people to participate for a prize. If you're comfortable with the legal side of things you can even charge entry if you make the prize worthwhile. Create a page on your site and advertise it through Facebook/Twitter. Who doesn't want to win prizes? Use a tracking link if you can so you know who came from Facebook/Twitter!
  • Discounts - If your e-commerce software allows the creation of custom coupon codes (and there are plenty out there that do) then this is a very easy way to get people to buy your products as well as track where they came from. The offer is up to you (x% off product, free shipping, buy x get y free etc) but make sure you create a unique coupon code for Facebook and Twitter - that way you know which sales came from which sites!

Miscellaneous

  • Fiverr - Fiverr is a site where people offer various services for $5. If you search around you'll likely find people with large Facebook/Twitter followings willing to give you a shout out for $5. If done well this is a very cheap way to gain more followers or traffic for your business!
  • YouTube - This is a lot more work than Facebook or Twitter but if you're willing to get up on camera and can produce engaging material you'll soon gain a very large following. Videos can be as simple as reviewing your own products - people like to see what they're buying before the commit so include your video reviews on your site if possible. You're obviously biased as you want to sell your own products but try to give a balanced opinion as people will appreciate this more than an out and out advertisement.

Next time: Offline advertising

13 comments:

  1. Twitter is awesome, but I keep forgetting about it

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  2. Thanks! I'll be creating my own business rather soon, and this is sure to help

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  3. I think another important thing is to post something you can feel good about. Otherwise your content can become stale if your not caring about it even if it is content that would normally be monetarily successful.

    I tried out fiverr but apparently was not committed enough as I didn't get any sales. :(

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  4. Great tips here. This can help out many people. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Social Networking is awesome for promoting and advertising. I love my twitter, it helps me spread my content so much further. I am kind of anti-facebook but I'm sure it would help me cover more ground!

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  6. social bookmarking sites are good too, like reddit and digg.

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  7. Social Networking sites are the future man
    Interesting post.

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  8. Internet offers lotsa great posibilities for young businessmen.

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  9. You left out creating your own blog! Other than that facebook is a great way to promote yourself.

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  10. blogging is even better than facebook or myspace

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  11. forgot linkedin and forums.

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