It may seem a little premature to be talking about the New Year when we haven’t even had Christmas yet, but every business needs to look ahead and plan its strategies so that it will become bigger, better and more competitive.
It’s particularly important at the moment when competition is so tight and the economy is in free fall. All companies, whether small or large, need to think about ways in which they can make a bigger impact on their sector of the market, and to do that they must plan and work out how they take their business up a level.
This is of crucial importance for online businesses where the competition is tightest of all.
So, put down the mince pies and sherry for a minute or two and have a read about some of the ways in which you can get your online marketing strategy off to a flyer in 2012.
Get a Facebook account.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network and is every bit the rival of Google. It grabs the attention of millions of shoppers who go online to find the best possible deals. Facebook gives businesses a channel in which they can host videos and show images of their products, stimulate discussions about their industry and engage directly with their customers to drive sales. Facebook is without doubt the internet marketing tool supreme.
Be Found on Foursquare.
Foursquare is a location-based social network that allows users to ‘check-in’ via their smart phone and share their experiences with Foursquare friends: it also lets them make recommendations about shops, restaurants, bars, hair salons or whatever business they happen to visit. A branded Foursquare page gives any business the opportunity to share content like special offers or recommendations via ‘Tips’.
Make your Facebook Fan Page stand out from the crowd.
Whilst businesses on Facebook are given plenty of opportunity to interact with their customers and hopefully find new ones, the most successful Facebook enterprises are those with truly engaging Fan Pages. A ‘fan gateway’ lets businesses offer exclusive content, and this in turn encourages more users to become fans. Each new fan can become another advocate for the brand and can provide publicity for the business by announcing their new allegiance on their own walls. These announcements can be seen by all of their friends: this could amount to hundreds of potential new contacts
Guest blog posts are one of the best ways to introduce new audiences to a business, and in essence function like a targeted infomercial. Look out for the established and well-read blogs within your business sector, and write a guest blog for these. This allows the business owner to tell the blog’s readers who you are and what you do, and will only expand your sphere of influence.
We live in an age where sharing is crucial, particularly online. Many would argue that nothing is considered important unless it is shared. So integrating social sharing buttons into your business website is critical. When a user finds a product or news item that they find interesting, funny or exciting, they’ll share it. But it’s more than that too: they don’t just want to share it; they expect to be able to share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. Businesses that don’t use social sharing buttons are really missing a trick.
A picture paints a thousand words, and a whole lot more too.
Infographics are the new terms for what was previously known as graphs and charts. However, there is a fundamental difference. Infographics are generally understandable, unlike some of the stuff that used to be paraded around the boardrooms. Ordinary readers can actually understand what they mean. A good infographic has huge social sharing potential, because they are offered in a smart and concise way, presenting facts, figures, ideas and other information, in such a way that people actually feel compelled to share it.
Harness the power of social media.
Ok, you’ve probably already cottoned on to the fact that most of the previous points relate to the social media, or share a certain ‘social’ element. There is a point to this. As an online marketing tool, social media has revolutionised the way businesses engage with their customers, and has transformed the way Internet shopping works. People no longer search for products and services… products and services can now find them.
Beef up your SEO with social media.
Social media isn’t just revolutionary in its own right; it is also impacting on established web marketing techniques like SEO. With more and more social integration across the web, Google and Bing are starting to take an increasing amount of data into their ranking algorithms from social sharing activity, as well as ‘likes’, ‘fans’, ‘follows’ and other indicators, such as Google’s own ‘+1’ button. SEO has to take this account and evolve with it.
Add a Google+ page.
Google’s new social media offering has already been touted as both a “Facebook killer” and a “complete failure” in the space of just a few months. Granted the jury may still be out on Google +’s long-term success, but what can’t be argued is that this time around Google has built a strong and competitive platform that offers complete integration with all their other products. Given the power and dominance of Google in the online market, any business that ignores Google+ is taking a mighty big risk.