Be Your Own Promoter: Five Digital Marketing Hacks for Entrepreneurs

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It’s happened before: you searched online for a restaurant, laundromat, or local retailer, but the business lacked either a website or a Facebook business page. Denied the information you needed, you moved on. Web presence is a must for discoverability, but time-pressed entrepreneurs often don’t have the wherewithal to regularly engage new business online.

Here are a few hacks for creating your own social media and content strategy for your startup. With a framework in place, you’ll find that it’s a matter of generating ideas and funneling them into your “template.”

1. Goals before execution

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Since consistency is a linchpin of good branding, marketers believe in defining social media goals before creating any profiles online.

In broad terms, social media can help you achieve the following four objectives. You need to decide which of these is most crucial for your business, and change your approach as your business needs evolve.

  • Brand awareness –  Promote your brand and engage with users
  • Content distribution  Create content to contextualize your product or suggest ways customers can engage with your brand
  • Lead generation – Generate traffic to your website
  • Customer acquisition – Convert that traffic into leads once you’ve maximized the other four capabilities

 

  1. Humanize your brand

Base your online persona around your target market and corporate culture. Look at the respective demographics and psychographics (attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria) of your brand and your customers, and find an intersection between the two that allows you to be authentic while approximating, as closely as possible, the conversation in your customers’ heads. “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it,” Amy Jo Martin, founder of social media consultancy Digital Royalty, told Forbes.

What drives your passion? Why did you embark on the uphill effort of starting a business? Inspire others by sharing that itch. The plus is that when your content centers around your passion and not your product, you’re at less risk of coming off as too promotional – merely engaging and enthusiastic.

 

  1. But…don’t be too obvious

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You should be active on social media before you start to use it for promotional purposes – that way you avoid being like the friend who only calls when she’s in a sitch. Social media scheduling software company Hootsuite does the subtle call-to-action to commendable effect in its official blog. In a post on social media tips for startups (which contextualizes how to use Hootsuite’s various products), it refers customers to other relevant rival software in addition to its own, with the content focused on imparting usable advice you’re likely to find in non-branded content from, say, a business publication. Great content also increases your Google page rank – invest in decent SEO and it goes even higher.

  1. Use social media for customer service

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Online shoe retailer Zappos has a dedicated Twitter page for responding to customer comments, while Southwest Airlines tweets about flight delays. Replying to a direct question, post, or comment is often easier than roundabout phone conversations, and allows you to publicly display to prospective customers and competitors how well (or not) you handled the situation. You can also repurpose customer questions, comments and complaints as blog or social media content, because you already know that your customers are seeking that information.

  1. Focus on just a few strengths

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As a small business, you likely won’t have the time and resources to produce clickable SEO content and diligently post to Instagram. Decide whether you’d like to focus on blog posts, videos, or photos, and devote most of your time to one or two mediums, thereby particularizing your brand persona.

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