Mashable.com’s Business section had a great article today on tactics for inexpensive online exposure for your small business. Now, these are for those of you who “get” social media marketing, at least a little. We’ll assume you have a fairly good web site and even maybe a blog, that you have presences on Facebook and maybe Twitter and Yelp and that you have at least some idea of what you hope social media marketing might do for your business.
Setting up your online presence isn’t hard, though there are some tricks of the trade that can elevate you beyond a simple Facebook Page or reserving that unique Twitter handle. What most small businesses struggle with then is getting the word out and generating a little buzz.
With that in mind, here’s how to market like a Madison Avenue PR pro:
Be a good resource. Journalists and reporters are always looking for a good story and more so a trusted, reputable resource to provide and verify facts, give a qualified opinion or be the go-to guy when they’re pressed for a deadline and need a quote or a little insight into an issue.
Make friends with local reporters (hey, you follow them all on Twitter, right?) and don’t be afraid to pitch your own perspective now and then, especially if you see a relevant topic or piece of news breaking and have a local perspective.
Be a good “Day Two” source. Bloggers and reporters — especially those in smaller markets — are often playing catch-up to larger, national or worldwide stories. They’ll be looking for someone local to have chime in and give them a jump start on a follow-up story.
Keep an eye on breaking news (using an online monitoring tool like Google Alerts is perfect for this) and then be sure to use the combined power of your experience and perspective with an online publishing tool like your blog. And by commenting on news stories as they happen, you become that local expert reporters may find from online searches.
How do you make sure your blog entries get found? Well, choosing smart tags to describe your postings is one way. There are a host of other techniques to keep your blog search optimized. And don’t overlook commenting on other’s blog articles as well as online news articles. Again, a smart Google Alert strategy is key here.
Get the word out. We’re going to go old school here (but with a new school twist) and stress the importance of time-tested press release. While you might be tempted to simply e-mail out a PDF of your release to the local newspaper — and that may still be a good idea — using a service like PRWeb will (for $80) allow you to get much greater exposure (and have your press release optimized for the best search engine results).
Help someone else out. If your own blogging efforts aren’t quite bringing in droves of new customers yet, try being a guest writer on a blog or other online publishing network that has a bigger audience.
And if there’s an industry web site, journal or blog that you follow, approach the publisher with an interesting story or take on a topic and request a byline with information about your company in exchange. Avoid sales pitches for your company, however, and stress key takeaways for the publication’s readers instead.