Compiled by Galynn Nordstrom, Janet Preus, Chris Tschida and Susan Niemi
In the 1960s, television was the marketing medium, well suited to the promotion of big consumer brands to a public with greater buying power than ever before. But times have changed. As consumers deal with less discretionary income, they want a closer look than TV ads can provide.
“This is a relationship economy,” and instead of major national brands, “the brand today is people,” says new media market consultant Jeff Korhan. Furthermore, marketing today is more about collaborating to create better solutions than it is about selling to buyers. And “communities are the new markets,” he says. “Businesses are now engaging with communities to develop mutually beneficial relationships that sustain what everyone wants to do.” This reality has created “the perfect storm of opportunity” for small businesses to capitalize on new media marketing.
Korhan suggests three main strategies to make the most of social media:
- Monitor your online presence. Know what others are saying about you by utilizing Google alerts and Facebook, the two giants that power so much of the interaction on the web. Be sure to use Facebook as a social community to support your business, not to sell. “It’s like asking your friends what they think,” he says, and people are more likely to say what they think on Facebook. This is valuable information, and it supports collaborating for better solutions.
- Get comfortable with authenticity. Humanize your business by “putting yourself out there, even making intentional omissions in order to have a reason to say ‘oops’ and go back and do it again.”
- Learn the language of the Web. Updating blogs and posts frequently will improve your chances with Google searches, and by using words that searchers use, you’ll be more easily located. In order to make a blog work as it should, an idea person, a technology person and a “face” to the online presence that has an engaging personality are all needed.
In the future, blogs will completely replace websites, Korhan believes, and even now should be separate, because “It’s not all business anymore, and a website is all business.” He also believes that mobile applications will replace computers and suggests making your own mobile “app.”
Establishing a page on LinkedIn, the network for business professionals, and keeping it up to date is essential. Engage with LinkedIn groups by asking questions, listening and responding, and encourage testimonials from legitimate customers and associates. It’s also a good way to stay current on trends by following major companies in the industry.
Other social media tools include Twitter, which should be used for engagement and sharing, not marketing; Flickr for photos that can also be uploaded to Facebook; and YouTube for video. By using strong keywords “there will always be a trail that leads back to you,” Korhan says.