August 21, 2012
Since the arrival of the internet, businesses have never been the same, especially with user-generated content. Thanks to Web 2.0, online communication has become conversational, allowing people to become content creators themselves. As a result, social media has now provided a new venue for making unique content. However, this media isn’t limited to individuals, as businesses big and small have taken to the Web. To take advantage of social media, here are the best forums you can use for promoting your online business:
Facebook is on top of this list because it’s the world’s most popular social media venue. According to research firm ComScore, more than half of the world’s internet population visits Facebook. This platform offers low-cost marketing opportunities for your online business.
A Facebook fan page lets customers "Like" your business and allows you update your followers whenever you have something to share. Furthermore, Facebook also lets you conduct effective pay-per click campaigns that target people who are into your niche.
Twitter is a growing microblogging and social networking service that lets your business share information, collect market data and connect with your followers. All it takes is 140 characters or less. Your followers can then retweet your message to their own followers, or favourite one of your tweets (yes, favourite is now a verb) if they like it. You can also reply to followers with queries.
While Twitter doesn’t have as many users as Facebook, the platform is experiencing rapid growth that can be beneficial to your online business.
LinkedIn is a social networking site focused on business and professionals. Like Facebook, you can form interest groups to develop your niche in the platform. LinkedIn has a few distinct features that you can use, like a job listings section and the ability to recommend people, adding to your business’ brand and standing, particularly when looking for new customers.
While Facebook dramatically has more active users (800+ million), Google+ is great for sharing content and growing interests, even with strangers. You can make detailed posts and customise the information seen by readers. While Facebook and Google+ initially looked similar, Google’s social service eventually developed its own growing following.
Google+ is an excellent way to drive people more to your online business through those ubiquitous "+1" buttons, which is comparable to Facebook’s "Like" button.
There are several benefits to having a company blog:
While there are blogs that fail, a well-executed, consistent company blog can drive in the traffic that can promote and grow your business.
Your business can also utilise other blogs in your niche by participating in productive discussions with them. Doing this adds credibility to your company’s brand and allows you to connect with more potential customers. It can also drive even more traffic to your business’ website.
You can also collaborate with other bloggers in your niche by asking them ask to make guest posts on your company blog and vice versa. Doing so can widen the audience of both blogs, and each would probably get incoming links which are good for search engine optimisation.
If your business has a local branch, you can use location-based mobile social networks like Foursquare and Outalot to promote the branch. For instance, your local branch can collaborate with Outalot by sending free coupons to people using the Outalot app near your branch. Recipients will then show the online coupon to redeem it. How about this: You can also give out freebies to the Foursquare user who wins the Mayorship (i.e. a user that checks in a venue the most number of times in 60 days) in your branch.
YouTube is another social media platform that you can use. Here you can invite people to subscribe to your company videos, which you can then post in your company blog. Don’t forget to promote the YouTube video on your Facebook page, and then use your Twitter account to promote the video in all these media. To increase your video’s number of views, just keep promoting it in your niche. Additionally, YouTube also allows comments and discussions, so you can use this to chime in on your readers as well. The best part—you can do most, if not all these promotions, for free.