A digital marketing partner recently asked me if I could duplicate some of the ways I've expanded reach for my business and offer it as a service for some of his clients who are struggling to make their mark in the online world. What I do in social media is not always applicable to other industries, but it doesn't hurt to share some of my tactics. If you're looking to enhance your credibility and gain more visibility for your business, here are a few things that have worked for me.
Develop strong content and decide how you'll 'ignite' it. Start with developing content that meets the needs of your audience - then find ways creative ways to share it. The goal of my blog posts are to appeal to my audience of small business owners by sharing social media tips and information, which is helpful to their business. Remember that content is only valuable if your audience says it is, so be sure to make it compelling and offer something that will keep them coming back. I recommend making it a habit to brainstorm topics - and ways you can get the word out. This post should help get your wheels turning.
Syndicate content. Apply to a few content syndication sites as part of your content ignition plan. I've done this with sites like Social Media Today and BizSugar, both of which have published my content dozens of times. Consider sites like Huffington Post to get started, but also consider the thousands of industry-specific publications that could benefit from your expertise. For most of these publications, you apply by entering basic information about you and your business along with a few samples of your work. If you're approved to post, you can submit fresh content, as you have it written.
Connect with influencers. A unique advantage of social media is the opportunity to directly connect with influencers. Making an authentic connection with an influencer is a process, but one that can be fruitful if done correctly. Using this tactic, I've been able to build relationships with key people in my industry such as Mark Schaefer, Gini Dietrich, and Jeffrey Gitomer - all of whom have either commented on my blog, tweeted my content or met with me in person to talk further. Consider a few leaders in your industry and establish ways to thoughtfully utilize social media to establish and build a relationship.
Connect with reporters and writers. I also recommend connecting with a few industry reporters. I've been fortunate to contribute to publications with clout such as Small Business Trends and Women's Health as a result of connecting one-on-one with writers. This has been a good tactic for several of our clients, especially those looking for local buzz. A simple tip for maximizing local reach is to connect with the industry beat reporter of a local business journal or regional publication. Often times these reporters have 'coffees' in which they interview professionals that they quote as sources for forthcoming articles.
Consider speaking. Speaking is a great way to build credibility in your field and get more people to know who you are. And the opportunities are endless, especially if you're willing to speak free of charge. Places like local chambers, associations, rotary clubs, and SCORE are a good place to start. When I was living in the Central Pennsylvania area, the Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce asked me to speak at least once a year - and I typically presented to a room of 50 to 70 people. Not bad for an hour of time. Don't overlook the virtual opportunities such as Twitter chats, podcasts, webinars and teleseminars. In fact, I'll be a guest on the Twitter chat, #AtomicChat on February 2 at 9:00 pm EST if you want an idea of the kind of exposure this opportunity provides.
If in doubt, open your wallet. Didn't get approved to submit content on a syndicated site? Consider their options for sponsored posts. Want reach new audiences in a flash? Try Google Adwords. Want more people to see your Facebook posts? Try boosting them. All of these methods allow you to preciously target your audience - more so than any traditional marketing outlet I've seen - and the data and analytics are comprehensive and immediate, so you can make adjustments quickly.
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the abundant opportunities in social media for expanding reach - most of which can be weaved into all of these tactics. As always, it's important to keep in mind that relationships take time. The best advice I can offer is to be patient and keep at it.