If you’re a small business today, chances are you’re on social media, in one way or another. If you’re not, prospects and customers may wonder why. An active online presence is even better – and shows not just that you’re in the digital age, but you want to connect with your audience. And, that’s important to them!
9 No-Brainer Social Media Tips to Grow a Brand
- Find Your Audience and Stick with it. You will never be Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful who everyone loves. Find your buyers online and grow that list into a base of raving fans who always want to know more and buy.
- Lose Perfection. Get content out there. Nothing is ever perfect, and that’s especially true when you start out. Experiment with posting and see what’s popular with your audience. Tweak and adjust from there.
- Go with Your Gut. One of the first mistakes I made as a copywriter was asking for the opinion of a handful of people. Was I on target? Was my message clear? Bottom line, pick one person who you trust as an editor and trust the process.
- Do What You Can Do. Stop trying to be Superman® or Wonder Woman®. I used to think I had to be the be-all end-all, especially when I was starting out. Pick and choose your copy, platforms, schedule and go with it. Build from there.
- Forget About Being on the Cutting Edge. I hope you are, but don’t be disappointed if you’re not. I’m thinking you’re working on and in your business, so if you’re on pace with your industry or ahead of your own time that’s probably good enough. See #2. Lose perfection.
- See what’s trending and go with it. PR pros call it newsjacking. I call it smart marketing. Check out one of my favorite tools, Buzzsumo.com and punch in your keywords. What are people writing, talking about and sharing?
- Figure Out Your Call-to-Action. What do you want your followers to do? Click through, ask a question, take a survey? Just be you, the expert, and make sure you’re always engaging in your brand’s tone and voice.
- Automate to Save Time. Using tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Edgar, you can plan ahead, save time and money. After all, you should be in your genius time as much as possible, not copy and pasting.
- Be Patient and Test. We’re not in life-saving mode. We’re discovering our voice and connecting with our audience and other influencers. Don’t stress, mistakes make us better marketers!
Social media is just one piece of the PR and marketing pie. You’ve got dozens of other promotional tactics to promote your brand and grow your business. The key is that all should be working together towards a common goal.
Tweak, Test and Try. 3 T’s to Ta Da!
I’m a sentimental soul and remember my dad not just on Father’s Day, but other days too. I can’t imagine my life without his entrepreneurial inspiration, guidance, acceptance of my crazy ideas and endless hours of listening to my questions – at the kitchen table as a kid and through the years, working on and off, from about 8 years-old to when I got my first full-time job after college.
As a mentor, he shaped my life until the day he died. This is for you, Dad.
Words of Wisdom from a Serial Entrepreneur
- Being an entrepreneur is the only way to go. You can set your price and your schedule. It’s not always easy, but it’s always yours.
- Make friends with your competition. This wasn’t such a welcome idea at 14 when he asked me to invite all the ‘pretty’ girls to a party. He told me I would assess the situation quickly. Ouch.
- If I die at the lake, throw me in the water with my briefcase, you and your brother will collect double.
- It’s not so much about the cost, it’s about the terms. If you want it, go for it. You can figure it out later. He said this with a pencil, always behind his ear.
- Pick a point on your drive home, then leave your business there. It will still be there on your way back.
- A happy wife is a happy life. My take on this age old advice: living in harmony is good for everyone.
- Don’t burn the candle on both ends. You need to rest.
- Pick the right partner that will support you thick and thin.
- Travel and see the world. Life is short. Have fun!
- Take care of your family. They’re why you work so hard.
My dad also told me I should study PR, even when I wasn’t quite sure what it was. “You’d be good at it,” he said. Years later, I figure he was right.
You can look at search engine optimization (SEO) as an easy task, or a daunting one. If you have time and money to spend, feel free to hire an expert, especially if you’re in a super competitive industry. But, if you’re on a budget, you can still apply the basics with DIY weekly tasks to drive traffic and increase visibility to rank higher in Google.
Master these 9 SEO Tips to Get Higher Google Rankings and More Business
- Know that SEO is a process, not an overnight magic trick. And, that’s true whether you hire out or DIY. Look at your Google Analytics and set a goal for what you’d like to accomplish. Test and track to see what’s working. Then tweak accordingly.
- Use keywords on your title tags and get them right. What words would your prospects and customers use to search for you? Title tags are keyword rich and usually have between 50 – 60 characters. Be sure they’re also in the headers, body and image alt-tags too.
- Create and verify your Google My Business Page (GMB). You’ll want to ask for reviews from your customers here and post consistently. This will help drive traffic, especially if you aren’t writing a blog or other content as part of a deeper campaign. Bad reviews? Answer promptly and politely.
- Consider using Word Press plugins like Yoast SEO. Once you focus on keywords and start writing, Yoast will grade you – from red, yellow to green when you’re hitting the mark. The more you write the better you’ll get.
- Post videos and transcripts on your website. Videos keep visitors on your page longer (and Google likes that). As an added bonus, provide a transcript of the video with medium and long tail keywords to build SEO and drive traffic.
- Go to a local college and find an online wiz or intern. Teach him/her 10 steps to easy SEO, including how to blog, build an audience, post to a Facebook page, distribute to social media and social bookmarking sites including Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or a host of others.
- Keep track of your online listings and make sure they’re accurate. If you’re practicing organic SEO, be consistent in your efforts to get the biggest bang for your buck. Again, look at Google+, Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and listings where you have online presence.
- Don’t overlook Google Maps when you’re planning SEO. If you have a store front location or work from the road, you can benefit from having all roads point to you. You don’t have to be there all the time, this SEO tactic drives traffic to your site and potentially to your store!
- Lastly, answer HARO ads as a way to build SEO and backlinks. Sign up at HelpAReporter.com and show journalists that you’re an expert. When you’re published, there’s almost always a backlink, back to, you guessed it, you.
If you’d like more information on SEO read this: Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO
I’m on a Facebook kick lately – to add to the mix of free and low-budget ideas to promote your small business. And, the reason is pretty clear.
If you’re a small business owner, consider a Facebook business page. It’s another forum to showcase your brand, expertise and personality. Just sitting there, your Facebook page is a missed opportunity for visibility and new business. Work Facebook so it will work for you!
Here Ares 15 Ways to Get More Facebook Likes:
- We’re wired to look at pictures, so use images. Take your own, buy interesting stock photos or use free ones. Look at these links for image ideas. Facebook loves video like Facebook Live, but it’s not so crazy about YouTube links. Guess why?
- Have a personal profile? Consider linking your Facebook page as ‘where you work’. Chances are, you’ll get added traffic.
- Cross promote with other pages that are complementary. You’ll find out very quickly who is reliable. Choose partners that are partners.
- Create a Facebook Group as a way to build prospects and trust. This can be a no-selling zone, but you could have a Promo-Monday. Remember, people don’t come to Facebook to be sold.
- Tag other pages in your posts. That creates a potentially bigger audience for you.
- Make a welcome video that’s compelling and include it on your fan page. That allows prospects to get to know you better and see how you can improve their life or business.
- Craft and email to your list and ask them to like your page. You can also add a call to action in your email signature.
- Collect your prospects and client’s questions and use that content to answer posts. It’s relevant to your audience.
- Point followers from different platforms to your page, especially if there’s a good discussion going on. There are no rules here. Experiment.
- Keep your posts short, sweet and personal. Fans like to know there’s a person behind the brand. Don’t confess your deepest darkest secrets of course, but engage to gain the LKT factor. (Like, know, trust).
- Discounts? Yup. Flash freebies (first 20 people to…) Yup. Shareable images like infographics also work to build engagement.
- Have employees? Going to a trade show? Build your likes. Ask and you will receive.
- Speaking? Ask your fans to tag themselves when they upload pictures. Then their friends and followers will also see you.
- Customize your Facebook background banner on Canva or other design sites. Make sure you’re consistently branded, but don’t forget to also include a call to action. Ask people to Like My Page!
- Lastly, every once in a while, include a PS at the end of your email like, Connect with us on Facebook. PS is a powerful Promotional tool!
We all know the power of video and it’s no secret that in 3 years, 75% of content on mobile phones (and Facebook) will probably be mostly video.
It took some time to get on bandwagon and I’m not sure if I was just being my perfectionist self or wondering how it was going to happen. But, it did. At the end of last year, I wrote down my goals and in less than two weeks, my YouTube channel was born.
With expert help and strategy, we got to #1 in Google for small business marketing expert, at least for a short while. If that can happen for me, it can happen for you.
So, what’s important for small businesses to know this year about video?
- You don’t have to have a big budget to grow your brand, create awareness and set yourself apart as a leader or expert in your industry. While many businesses are just blogging, video content often makes a bigger impression – especially when you’re producing and uploading on a consistent basis.
- Since Google owns YouTube, you have a greater chance of being ranked higher on that search engine. Viewers also typically think: top position = more qualified. Fact is, you can get there by earned status or paid. My favorite is promoting without a PR budget.
- Now, you can’t put out video that stinks or that’s not geared for your target audience. Research is a must and your content has to be valuable. Also remember, you don’t have to produce an epic video — it can be simple. An intro video about who you are, testimonials, behind the scenes. See where I’m going?
- Also keep in mind the length of your video. Keep them short, about 60 – 90 seconds. You can give a tip, an insight, create a montage. Inform, educate or entertain, but most importantly have fun. Brand personality shows in your eyes, actions and energy – on camera and off.
- Lastly, you’ll want to upload your content to YouTube, but, don’t forget about Facebook or using Facebook Live so that you’re upfront and personal with your fans and followers. Check these sites too: Vimeo, Daily Motion and Metacafe. And, Instagram and Snapchat? Recent studies show Instagram has 500 million monthly users and Snapchat with a mere 5 billion videos watched in a day.
Time to get into the video game for digital marketing growth?
I hear that as a yes. Start small. Think big.
MIT Sloan grads are among the smartest in the world, and I’m fortunate to be friends with one who’s promoting an app for a European company. He describes it as a fascinating project, but he’s also encountered challenges with a super niche audience. Does that help or hinder his efforts? Although I could recommend at least 50 ways to get free publicity and online mention, there are also best practices recommended from the app world.
App Happy? Get insight from these articles:
Simple Tips to Get Your App Indexed, Ranked and Installed by SearchEngineLand.com
25 Creative Ways to Promote Your App for Free by Entrepreneur.com
How to Market Your Mobile App by Kissmetrics.com
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “you have to be on social media,” I wouldn’t just be rich, I’d be retired and island hopping in the South Pacific – that’s one place I’ve wanted to go ever since my 20’s.
If you’re a business or brand you probably should be on social media. But make sure you’re on social media the right way – and not wasting time, resources and money.
5 Must-Haves for Effective Social Media Marketing [On a Budget]
- Do you know what you’re doing? Many business owners are brilliant in their field but don’t have the time or desire to be experts at social media. And that’s OK. You don’t have to be a digital marketing guru, but you should understand what you’re doing and why. Get all the information you need from social media marketers who make it their goal to share 70% original content, 20% (OPC) other people’s content and 10% self-promotion.
- Social media is a public forum to talk, rant and rave. So, listen. Listen to what your customers are saying – not just on your own platform, but on like-minded channels. What’s the buzz? What’s trending with influencers? One way to find out is with Buzzsumo. It’s a web-based research tool to see what’s popular in your topic, how often a post has been shared, and who the active influencers are. Check out who’s starting conversations and what’s being said, so you can be in the know. There’s a free and paid version – try before you buy.
- Are you using technology to make social marketing easier? When I discovered automation tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, it made my workload so much lighter. I liked planning ahead and working on my business not always in my business. Automation tools saved me hours of manually posting online, and like any business owner will tell you, time is money. Free worked for a while, but $10 a month works too.
- Engaging or just posting? Post and forget is one strategy many business owners subscribe too, and as much as you hope it will work, it really won’t. Take advantage of every opportunity to engage with your followers and answer their questions, even if it’s just adding a comment or two. Keep an open attitude as you build your like, know and trust factor, in a way that’s authentic!
- We know you’re busy. You can’t be everywhere all at once and be there 100%. I know that and so do you. Choose 2 or 3 social media platforms that resonate with your brand and put your energy into them. Look where your competitors are and if it looks like they’re making a splash, make a dash. It’s fine to test the waters but be sure to target platforms that target your prospects and customers. They’re the ones who are going to buy.
Check out this Graphic from Constant Contact on where people are spending their time on social media.
Interesting to think about – considering we only have x amount of time in a day! It’s not a math problem, it’s a way of life!
Want to be a LinkedIn superstar? Why not, who wouldn’t?
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform with 467+ million members, so you ought to look good whether you’re promoting your personal or professional brand, or building a sales funnel, online and offline.
The basic version of LinkedIn is a no-cost marketing and PR tool that you can create, modify and save 24/7, 365 days a year. That is, for now. I’m not sure what Microsoft will do in the future.
You know the LinkedIn basics, but I’ll reiterate them.
Complete the entire profile, first. Post a professional high res picture that looks like you, today, not 50 pounds ago. Create a profile title using strategic keywords and add the bar key – that’s shift forward slash – to get the biggest bang for your space. Create a LinkedIn cover photo for free on Canva.com. Customize your URL with your name; ie, www.LinkedIn.com/in/RobinSamora. Use all 2000 characters in the description, attach your blog, a book chapter or special report. And don’t forget to include your accomplishments. It’s not bragging, it’s promoting.
Now for more advanced LinkedIn tips.
- Include your city in your profile title which helps your profile stand out 20+ times more.
- Consider using a colorful background for your photo. Your image will pop and not be boring.
- Structure your company page to convert customers. Include an image with a call to action.
- If you’re prospecting, save your searches. After all, why re-create the wheel?
- Download your LinkedIn contact’s email addresses to build or mirror a potential Facebook Ads list.
- Start a LinkedIn group to gain authority and build your networking capability. This puts you in control.
- Publish lengthier content (around 2000 characters) on LinkedIn Publisher (formerly Pulse) on a consistent basis. Create titles 40 – 49 characters long. Include images to attract attention.
Thinking about sponsored ads on LinkedIn? Check out their lead gen form to easily collect info from 500+ million professionals, without clunky forms. Sales just got easier. So did ROI. On mobile phones, for now. Take a look
- Use How-to and list style headlines, but not questions. They typically perform poorly.
- Don’t embed YouTube videos. They also lack performance.
- Test publishing long content on Thursdays. It seems to be a high-traffic day.
- Write so that an 11-year-old can read your content. Make it easy to get through, not a thesis.
Have you heard that you are your brand wherever you go?
It’s a fact, especially if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur looking to market your business, increase visibility and make more money!
Your brand story tells it all. So, be sure you know it inside and out. What makes you different? How did you get to where you are now? Why should someone want to do business with you?
Create a compelling brand story and share it wherever you go online and offline.
- Make your story compelling. Moving. And, include your why to make it personal and meaningful.
- Be sure it’s clear, consistent and that you’re constantly improving your story. As you share more often, watch that your brand personality and values are always aligned.
- Practice sharing your story with feeling – and whether you pretend to or not, tell it with meaning. A phony can be spotted a mile away!
- Use your brand story as part of a daily PR and marketing practice to grow your small business, build a base of raving fans so you can sell more products and services. You’re in business to make money, right?
The core of your brand story will always be the same, because it’s who you are.
Include your brand story as an important part of your elevator pitch, in person at networking events, in an author resource box at the bottom of articles, on Amazon Author Central when you upload your blog. And always, when you write copy for your website, sales page, speaker page or any material where you want to let people know who you are and why you rock.
If you’re a small business marketer learning the best practices of PR — or even if you’re a marketing expert, be sure of this:
Make your brand story right on, brand on – and always on 24/7. Be sure that it’s compelling and in your voice. Remember, you are your brand wherever you go, so make it the best brand you possibly can!
Want to hear from other experts on building a brand story? Check out these articles:
The Secret of Story Telling from Entrepreneur.com
Richard Branson on Storytelling that Sparks Ideas and Builds Brands via Forbes.com
Set an intention to market your small business – even without a PR budget. Learn the tricks, tools and promotional know-how to tell your story.
There’s a certain ring to the ka-ching.
Take a look at Boston University’s #BUGiving Day and their social toolkit. I’m not sharing this just because it’s my alma mater. I like how it’s put together. It’s a content-rich example on how to develop your own communication tool to share news, special events and promotions.
I signed up to help support their event and received an email follow up asking me to be a social brand ambassador for the cause. “Sure,” I thought. “Why not.”
First, here’s the email that I received:
Thanks so much for signing up to receive email reminders about BU Giving Day 2017. The big day is now just two days away, and we couldn’t be more excited!
I’m reaching out today to remind you to save the date for Wednesday, and to spread the word to your fellow Terriers that #BUGivingDay is coming. We’ve put together this social toolkit to help get you started.
We’d also love it if you joined us as a social ambassador. When you sign up, you can link your favorite social accounts and receive emails with easy one-click sharing when we have new content. You also have the chance to win some great prizes just by signing up.
Thank you for your support of Giving Day – you help us make a huge difference in the lives of BU students today, and for years to come!
When I saw their social toolkit, I was intrigued. When I opened it up, I loved how it was organized with easy to read headlines and sections. Giving Day Basics. Examples of Facebook posts and Tweets. Facebook Cover Photos. Instagram Pictures.
Great job BU. Not just cause I’m from COM. It’s good work.