In 2008, Businessweek published an article stating that social networking would change business and business owners needed to jump on the bandwagon or be left behind. That is still the case. Here are eight easy low-to-no cost tips to help expand that current social media footprint, whether the platform is small or large, or something in between.
In the aforementioned article, not only did Businessweek recommend that every business start a blog, they also said: “Blogs were the heart of the story in 2005. However, they are just one of the tools used by millions to lift their voices in electronic communities. People are creating their own media through social-driven platforms like MySpace and Facebook, mini blog engines like Twitter, and video-focused platforms like YouTube. All have hit the scene in the last three years, and all are nourished by users.”
MySpace? Mini blog engines like Twitter? How quickly things have changed.
Fast forward three years to 2011, when the Los Angeles Times said, “The most commonly used tools are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs, in that order. According to a recent study by EMarketers, 80 percent of leading companies will participate in social media marketing in 2011, nearly double the number from three years ago.”
Back in 2011, Google+ and Pinterest were a glimmer on the online horizon. YouTube was just taking off for the business sector. Google Hangouts were not even invented yet. These days, expanding a company’s footprint online is a full time job. A social media analyst in Dallas, TX, makes just over $52 thousand a year. A web writer’s salary is just a few thousand behind that.
But what about companies who do not have that kind of money to spend? Below are eight easy, low-cost social media tips, with steps that can be taken now.
No-cost Tip #1 – Voicemail: Add social information to the company’s voicemail. Hundreds of people hear that voicemail each year and it could be the push they need to press that Like button. Encourage company employees to do the same. Don’t miss out on this cheap easy marketing.
No-cost Tip #2 – Email Signature: Does every employee list all of the company’s social media info in their email signature block? It is amazing how many people will click those links when they are right there.
Low-to-no-cost Tip #3 – The company website: Does the website for the business have clear links to the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages? If a business is product, visual or design based, an Instagram and Pinterest accounts are must-haves as well. What about a link to the company blog? If someone is hanging out (at last!) on the website, it is common sense to put everything at their fingertips.
Low-cost Tip #4 – Signage: Is a sign prominently displayed, in the lobby or near the front door? Does this sign share the company Facebook and Twitter links? What about a QR code that takes those returning or potential customers to the landing page for the newsletter, or perhaps to a well-maintained blog? QR codes are on everything from food labels to magazine ads these days. A person waiting in the lobby is a captive audience. It would be nice to lead them directly to the page on the website that was designed with them in mind.
Low-cost Tip #5 – Printed materials: Is the company social media information printed at the bottom of each letter and brochure that goes out the door? What about on every employee’s business card? It is easy to make room in the address block for something so important. Try including this the next time print materials are updated.
Low-cost Tip #6 – Email marketing: It is important to build an email list and use it for email marketing. Be sure not to cross the line into spamming. This can be accomplished with opt-out links and a reasonable monthly or quarterly schedule to start.
Be sure all social media links are included in every piece of email marketing, and do not be afraid to engage in monthly or quarterly promotional campaigns. Tools like Constant Contact, Survey Monkey and Mail Chimp can track the results. Customer engagement typically improves quickly, especially if their accomplishments are featured in the content.
No-cost Tip #7 – Business presentations: If any team members do public speaking or presentations of any kind, all pertinent website and contact information should be on each slide and in any handouts. It is appropriate to pass out cards or verbalize company contact information at the beginning and end of a presentation.
No-cost Tip #8 – Cross-promotion between platforms: It is good customer service to ensure that customers can find the person(s) they need. An easy way to accomplish this is to list several options on every online space the company is in. There should always be a link to at least two other social tools that are updated regularly.
Content is king, when it comes to social media – nothing will replace good content – but following these eight easy low-cost tips should help companies cast their net as widely as they can online.
By Jenny Hansen