Ok, you’ve started a business, now what?
During my time helping business owners set off on the journey to go digital, I’ve learned one thing: there’s a lot to know. I forget that what I know is based off of over a decade of working in digital media and marketing along with a hunger to keep up with what’s going on in the ever changing world of content marketing.
But you didn’t click on this article to hear me opine, so I’ll get to the point.
Whether you are the person starting your business online or if you’re trying to help a client, here are some tools you can use.
For building a website
To be honest, companies that will help you build a website are myriad and a longer article on their own. So, I’ll give what I recommend to my clients when they are getting started.
Medium has a really simple, sophisticated interface. If your business is more content-oriented, then this is a viable option (similar to mine, for example) for you. You have a lot of creative leeway using their free package. There are more options when you pay for the site (this is one of my favorites) but in the meantime you can get started for free.
WordPress is a favorite option for many people. My own site is run off their free option (though I do pay for my URL through GoDaddy), but they have a more robust version you can pay for. WordPress is a great option for many businesses because it can be as manual or analog if you want. If you only want to sell some items and update a blog, you can do that via some plugins and an app on your phone. Or if you want to code your own, unique website, that’s available to you too.
If you’re looking for a simple, beautiful option where you can sit down and have your business up and running in 1hr or less, I’d recommend SquareSpace. At $9.99/month for a basic package, you get a ton of features including the ability to sell things. Truth be told, if I or one of my clients was in a retail business, I’d run it off of SquareSpace. Chances are that just one sale will more than make up for the cost of the site, and you have their support staff on-hand ready to help with your questions. It’s the best value for a paid website I’ve found.
For socializing your business
Every business has a different strategy for how they want their brand and content to be seen by the public which is why there are a lot of different options for managing social media posts. Additionally, you’ll need to decide what you want your tools to do for you: automatically posting, chain of approvals, or simply scheduling. However, keep in mind that you will pay for these conveniences, so it’s important to think about which you really want/need then scale if needed.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the world of marketing that it’s easy to forget some business simply need to know the basics about online marketing.
For a lot of people, this means taking the first step of having a website. If your business runs largely offline, like my local bagel shop, it’s still a good idea to have a website. That way people can find you and learn a bit about your business before deciding whether or not to visit.
There’s a joke amongst Millennials that if you’re dating someone and they don’t have a social media presence, then there must be something they’re hiding.
While it’s not exactly the same for businesses, it’s still important to put a professional foot forward and make sure people know you care about them being able to find and contact you.
So, in an effort to help you get your online marketing efforts off the ground, I wanted to put together a quick checklist of five ways you can start building your online presence today.
- Get a website
Decide what you want your website to be like, and set a budget to help you narrow down your choices. The good news is that even if your budget is $0, you can still start a website. Places like wordpress.com and weebly.com make it easy to create engaging sites that make your business look professional.
If you plan to have a basic webpage, that’s totally fine. But remember that you’ll have one chance to make an impression on your potential customers. So, choose a design that conveys what you’d like people to base their first impression on.
- Get an Instagram Business account
I promise this sounds harder than it is. It’s as simple as:
- Starting an Instagram account
- Go to Settings and choose to make it a Business account
- Enter your business’ phone number or email
- Start posting!
This is my price sheet. I’m not afraid to post it because at the end of the day, my main goal is to help my clients achieve their goals.
I’ve worked for many agencies but because they have high overhead, they try to negotiate high prices. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I wish them all well because they keep people employed.
But that’s not what I personally believe in.
I believe in reasonable prices that allow me to devote attention to achieving my clients’ goals, and a commitment to agency-level work.
So, this is my price sheet. No hidden fees. If you’re ready to jumpstart your marketing strategy, let’s go!
Imagine this: you buy a pair of shoes, but you can only wear them with one specific outfit. The same is true of your other shoes and other outfits. Sure, some people hold their closets to this rule, but it’s expensive wasteful. So, why run your website the same way?
I’m a huge proponent of repurposing content because at the end of the day, you paid for the content (whether with dollars or time), so you might as well get the most bang for your buck. Most digital marketers know that completely duplicated content isn’t a great experience for readers, however, content about a similar topic can actually help drive SEO traffic to your page. And believe it or not, readers like repurposed content when it’s done the right way.
There’s no single method to making repurposed content work for you, because it largely depends on who your audience is, and that will change from site to site. You’ll want to figure out some insights about what delivery methods your visitors engage with most. Do they prefer articles or videos? Are infographics a hit? Does short or long content perform well? Additionally, you’ll want to think about your social media channels, and how they can help you leverage your content. All of these insights can not only get more eyes on what you’ve published, it can also help you decide which marketing partnerships will likely be the most beneficial, thanks to these audience insights.
Here are five clever ways to get the most mileage out of your content and how to make it more engaging.
1. Turn it into a multimedia experience
You may have seen Moz’s Whiteboard Friday, where Rand Fishkin & Co. take a different SEO-related concept each week and illustrate how it works. The videos are one of the most educational parts of my week, but Moz goes one step further. They also publish a hi-res photo of the finished whiteboard, and type out all of the text below the video. If that isn’t enough for you, they also embed an audio file from Soundcloud so if their users are podcast people, this option is available as well.
A single weekly post repurposes content in four very user-friendly, and engaging ways. While many people watch videos, others would rather quickly scan an article. And if the lesson that week was particularly illuminating, the photo allows the visitor to share it with only a few clicks.
2. Revisualize the content
Moz takes, quite literally, a straightforward approach to repurposing content, simply delivering the same product in different ways, but there are other methods to making the same thing feel fresh. If you have a piece of content that lends itself to becoming an infographic, then take a few moments and create one.
Even if you don’t have a graphic designing bone in your body, there are lots of free tools out there to help you design an image people will engage with. My favorite is Canva. I discovered it a few years ago, and since then I’ve created marketing materials for clients, social media posts for college intramural programs, lengthy infographics, a new cover for my novel, business cards, and some casual pics just for the heck of it. Do a quick content audit, focusing on which pieces get the most engagement, and start thinking about new ways to present it.
3. Socialize articles… Again
People are typically pretty good at Tweeting or posting their content to Facebook, but are you employing the most engaging tactics? Let me illustrate. When I used to write for a celebrity blog, we’d have headlines like, “You Won’t Believe What Shoes She Wore With This” and post a picture cropping out the shoes. Sometimes, if the headline was that ambiguous, we’d crop out the celeb’s head, too.
Of course, this is the most shameless form of clickbait, and no one likes that, so don’t go that far, but think in th same frame of mind.
If you have an article about how to de-stress and de-clutter your life, create a graphic with the article title, or a little factoid that will entice readers, and direct them to the article link. By using this method, you get double leverage out of your post without looking lazy and simply posting the same link again, or coming up with something like, “Throwback to one of my favorite posts.” If you’ve tried that method, it’s ok, we probably all have at some point.
You can also launch a week-long social media campaign. For example, if you have a website about yoga, feature a new pose each day to balance the seven chakras. The info is already on your site, you’re just making it accessible in a new way.
I’ve been fascinated by watching Gen Z grow up and learn to use the internet in a much different way than I did. As a millennial, in my teen years, I spent countless hours chatting on AIM, and watching Napster take days to download a Smash Mouth song over our dial-up internet. I remember my first Hotmail email address (which my dad set up for me) and Facebook when it required a .edu email to register.
What I’m getting at is that the internet changed a lot, and it changed quickly, forcing Gen Z’ers to understand at an early age what the rest of us barely thought about: personal branding via social media.
My teen AIM username died with the platform last year, but let’s be honest, no one is going to think “Natalie Saar” when they read “Missyk134.” But there wasn’t the same pressure back then to brand yourself, or even just to make sure you got your name as your username before anyone else did.
Not only does this cause personal and business users to think outside the box when it comes to their name, it also requires them to think about the content they’re putting out. Each social media platform has a different offering, which is why they can all (somewhat) coexist with each other.
Twitter offers quick takes and the ability to interact with people, many of whom are strangers, in real time. It’s demographics skew younger.
Facebook offers news and sharing largely between friends and family. Its demographics skew older.
Instagram offers the chance to express yourself through photos and captions, and in a way combines the best of Facebook and Twitter.
LinkedIn offers a professional environment to connect in. You typically won’t find people arguing about politics there, because it’s very clearly a networking tool, and you’ll find that users hold each other to that.
Snapchat and Tumblr each have their own styles of helping people engage with each other as well, though they’re harder for markters to hack for various reasons.
So, how do you decide the way you want to brand all of these free advertising tools you have at your fingertips? Here are some tips to get you started:
Keep Some Aspects the Same
While each social media channel can have its on “personality” there are a few things you should keep the same. Your profile photo, cover photo, and overall vibe. Especially if you’re planning on very different messaging on your channels, you’ll want to keep the logo or profile picture and the overall look and feel as well. This way you build subtle brand awareness and people know that your channels lead back to you.
You’ll also want to try your best to make sure the name is the same. This may go without saying, but that can be a tall order, and will only get harder as more and more people become social online. Get creative and try a few variations, but when possible, keep the names the same.
We rely on our phones for so much these days. Texting, calling, taking pics, using as a flashlight to find your phone before realizing it’s in your hand. And with all of those things come apps.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get app overload. In fact, I’m so particular about streamlining how many apps I have that I try to limit the amount I use to only what will fit on my homescreen.
That’s what appealed to me about Snapchat’s new Context Cards. They’re like a Maps, Yelp, Uber/Lift, and of course, Snapchat all in one. Take a look at the cards in action:
TripAdvisor and OpenTable are more offerings too. Of course, you still need to Continue reading “Snapchat’s Context Cards Simplify Our Lives a Little More”
Sometimes I find that the hardest part of using social media channels is finding a way to be social in real life and incorporate social media without being “that friend” who snaps everything. I’ve come up with some tips to help you be able to do both without embarrassing yourself.
1. Check in before you walk in — if you already know you’re going to go somewhere, and you’re a person who checks in on Facebook, do it before you walk inside. You don’t want to sit down and have to spend your first few seconds not talking to the friend you’re there to meet with. Think of a witty caption on the drive there, park, turn your car off, and check in.
2. Take pictures for yourself, not for the gram — sure, we all know what performs well on Instagram, but another important aspect of posting is being genuine. If you’re snapping a pic of a wall of tequila at Pink Taco because everyone else is doing it, that’s going to be obvious and uninspired. But if you’re snapping a pic because tequila is the nectar of the gods, then that enthusiasm will shine through. Take pictures that are gram-worthy, but take them for yourself.
3. Double up on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories — life is already hard, don’t make it harder. While you should strive to be authentic and unique across all of your platforms, if you have a busy day ahead of you, double up on your stories. Take one video, save it without filters or graphics, then upload it to each platform, decorating as you see fit. Try to start with a Snapchat video, because they timestamp uploads and you don’t want to give up your game.
4. Don’t worry about being “that” person — I know, I said the whole point of this was to NOT be “that” person, but hear me out. We all tease that person in the group that’s always taking pictures and videos but this is not a new type of person. Since people have been able to carry around cameras, there’s always been “that” person, and we secretly love them for it. As a kid, I’d haaaate how many pictures my grandpa took of everything. “Say cheese!” But now, as an adult, I love that I have pictures of us playing board games or standing next to a sunflower we grew together. Historically, we love to see old images of what cities and people used to look like. Heck, it’s even fun to see what life was like at the beginning of the Facebook era.
So, if you happen to be “that” person, own it, and strategize. Someday, someone will thank you for making them pose at the end of a hike or for a Broadway play opening.