The Small Business Owner’s Guide: Using Content to Build an Online Presence

Posted by on 16th, Nov, 2012

Online marketing is driven by content, and before we delve into platforms and strategies, you need to understand that as a business leader/online marketer you are stepping into the world of media.

Now, try not to let the word “media” intimidate you. Instead, imagine how your marketing strategy would change if your team members took a more creative approach to “sharing information” about your brand’s history, services or culture.

The first step to embracing your role as an independent publisher is to collaborate with others on your team to identify talent. Many small business owners make the mistake of taking on too much responsibility too quickly. By relying on the voices of your teammates, your brand value will soar due to the simple fact that it will be driven by energetic people who love your company.

Pre-strategy Questions

    1. Who are the best communicators on my team?
    2. What platforms and mediums would my top communicators be comfortable using?
    3. How much time can I reasonably expect my team to dedicate to building online content?

In addition to communication skills, keep your eyes open for editing, proofreading and time management skills. Some of your team members may also have a natural instinct for big content ideas and marketing strategies that can define your overall direction. Give your team the chance to surprise you and the room to be creative.

In order to find online marketers within your existing talent pool, you may need to hold a special meeting, post flyers or send out a mass e-mail. Ask your employees if they are interested in writing, videography, photography or social media. Be prepared to offer incentives for any extra work that this project may require, but the ideal balance is to find energetic people who will integrate new responsibilities into their weekly duties.

Strategy Tip: Keep it casual. Online marketing is a marathon endeavor that is full of trial and error. Foster an environment that will keep your team inspired to a long-term vision with realistic and sustainable expectations for investment and for talent.

Soul-Searching Questions

    1. What are our core values?
    2. What makes us different from our competitors?
    3. Who is our audience?
    4. What can we do better?

Business owners know the answers to these questions by heart, but should limit input during the initial brainstorming meeting. The point of this meeting is to LISTEN. Because some creative people are introverted, they may prefer to share their opinions via e-mail. Promote both individual and team collaboration.

Different opinions provide the opportunity to indentify common misconceptions and to field fresh ideas. If employees are confused about the company’s image, they won’t be unified enough to build a strong branding campaign. Once you hear their feedback, share your own vision for the brand. Ask your employees to pitch ideas on how to bridge the gap between any conflicting ideologies. Use these answers to move forward.

Entering the World of Social Media

I promise this wasn’t a post geared to trick you into using social media, but you probably saw it coming. Social media is THE PLATFORM for independent publishers and small businesses. What many business leaders don’t realize is that maintaining a social media campaign takes a ton of work. But since you have a great team and clear core values, you are ready to take the leap.

According to SocialMediaToday.com, social media is only capable of doing three things for your business:

    1. Increasing brand awareness through sharing content and expanding networks.
    2. Building customer loyalty through increased engagement and more responsive support.
    3. Increasing sales by getting more people to purchase, more frequently.

Obviously, for the purposes of this article, we are concerned with the very first goal. I wanted to share the other two with you, however, so you can continue to build your strategy.

About Us

Let’s start with your company’s website. It’s not exactly social media, but it’s the landing page for your blog and other resources for your customers. If it’s been a while since you’ve tinkered with your web page, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes.

The “About Us” page is one of the first pages your customers will visit when they land on your site. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort building your core values and developing your products and services; the “About Us” section is the perfect place to share your achievements and aspirations with your visitors.

Tips for an Effective “About Us” Page

    1. Keep it short and sweet. Avoid large blocks of text.
    2. Use photos for a personal touch.
    3. Add a separate “History” section if you have an interesting backstory.
    4. Use your core values as a guideline.
    5. Update this section to include new achievements, initiatives or growth within your company.

Blog

Your foray into media starts with your company’s online publication, which most people will refer to as your “blog”. There are many different ways to approach blogging. It all depends on your ultimate goal and your audience. Ask your content team to study the 10 Best Corporate Blogs in the World for inspiration.

Tips for Building an Effective Blog

    1. Use a variety of media.
    2. Focus on 1-3 goals that will guide your overall content strategy.
    3. Update often and consistently.
    4. Share your content via social media.
    5. Keep the word count low (500-800).

Facebook

Facebook is an incredibly low-maintenance social media outlet, but it can also be very effective. Each time you publish a blog post, share it to your Facebook page to promote it. Taking advantage of Facebook best practices allows you to track the demographic of your audience and monitor which posts are receiving the most feedback, which can be used to tailor your blog content for your audience.

Facebook is best used as a connecting hub for your content, but is also an excellent way to interact with customers on a daily basis. A strong cover photo will reinforce your brand image through visual media. Whether through polls, photos, shared links or a contest – Facebook can draw attention to your brand and get people talking.

Instagram

On the other end of the spectrum is Instagram, a social media outlet that uses images as its content base. Instagram can be used in a variety of ways and can be linked to your company’s blog and Facebook feed. Sharing photos with readers is a low-maintenance, content-rich strategy that can lend a personal and interesting element to your brand’s image. Consider these 10 Creative Ways to Use Instagram while brainstorming your own strategy.

Content for Profits Ebook

Rachel Sanders

Posted By Rachel Sanders

Rachel Sanders is a web designer with a passion for social media. If you enjoyed this post, or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment for Rachel.

  • Josh

    This is some seriously good content you have here. And thanks for the tips I never thought about studying the best blogs in the world. cheers. Hey there is also a facebook group with bloggers such as yourself that is great for building blog networks………..https://www.facebook.com/groups/497016007010535/