Imagine you could publicize your company or product to countless potential customers at no cost. You can!
PR, both online and in traditional media, offers the ultimate stimulus package for small businesses seeking to jumpstart their recovery.
Marketing on the Internet can also help level the playing field between small companies and their larger competitors. The key is to carefully craft and target messages about your brand to the most likely potential customers.
Now, more than ever, the Internet offers ways to connect with anyone you want to connect with for little or no money. One way is to take advantage of free news query services such as PitchRate (www.PitchRate.com) that match reporters with experts and sources on the news they cover. Sign up as an authority on topics related to your business or other interests, and reporters will know they can call you for an interview or quote. It’s a very effective way to publicize your brand, and it costs nothing.
Free social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, also offer companies endless possibilities to publicize their products and services. Social networking connects you with potential customers, existing customers and partners to build your business. It allows you to get a feel for what is happening in your market and to provide excellent customer service.
Online networking can give you instant feedback on what potential customers care about. You don’t have to be a web guru to do it, but just like with anything else, there is a learning curve.
With all its advantages, online PR is not a panacea. Some people think that all they have to do is put up a Web site and all of a sudden they will be bombarded with customers. It takes time to get to know online communities and dial in your online marketing strategy for maximum effectiveness.
Most successful companies target their PR efforts at both traditional and online media. This is where it pays to plan strategically so all your messages consistently build your brand. If your company has multiple brands, it is important to be clear about how they all tie together.
Following are some tips and questions to decide if social networking is right for your business:
- Be clear about your resources: Using social networking is not a part time job. Make sure you or someone in your company has the bandwidth.
- Know your market: Be clear on whether or not the market you are trying to reach is likely to be using social networking.
- Are you an adventurer? Are you the type of person that would have been on Columbus’ ship, or would you have waited until there was a Starbucks on every corner before you came to the New World? Social networking is easier for those who embrace the challenge of new frontiers.
- Are you the center of attention? What wins the day in social networking is being engaging and creative. You have to ask: “Am I or someone in my company a big personality that people crowd around?
The key to effective social networking is building community. Just like in the community you live in offline, the people that have a say on social networks are the ones who are engaging and really provide value for the community.