When it comes to small businesses and freelance professionals, nothing is better than “free” online marketing and visibility tools. Increasing your small business reach is vital if you want to compete, but you probably don’t have the resources for expensive marketing campaigns. That’s OK because there are ways to get the word out about who you are and what you do. And, the good news? Many of them are free. The only cost is your time. Here are the top 3 free online tools to increase your online visibility.
1. Facebook for Business
The social media phenomenon began as strictly a way to bring friends and family together online. Business use gradually became an option. Now, a Facebook business page is an essential tool in your marketing arsenal. According to TechCrunch, Facebook now has 2.5 million advertisers and 50 million small business pages. Facebook does offer paid advertising services, but small businesses get tremendous value using Facebook’s free offerings.
Facebook is ideal for creating brand awareness and building a community of people who like, post comments and best of all, share information about your business. The main advantage is the snowball effect, where your fan base shares your posts with others, introducing your business to a new audience and bringing in more likes.
Building your Facebook business page is just the beginning. The real work starts after you’ve uploaded your logo and filled in all of your business information. Unlike your website, which you build and let go, at least for a while, Facebook requires a dedication to post, if not every single day, then at least five times a week. Facebook also requires interaction with those who post on your page. If you build your page and don’t engage followers, it does more harm than good.
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Engaging customers is done by replying to customer comments, posting informational and how-to articles and providing links to information on your company website. One of the best ways to increase engagement after you have a fan base is to run contests. Contests excite followers, keep your brand in the public eye and encourages shares, which increase your fan base. As your community grows, add sales promotions, with links to purchase or find out more. No hard sell on Facebook, however. You’re goal is to build trust and gain visibility.
CrunchBase is a crowd sourced database of businesses and professionals. Originally created to give investors a way to discover innovative companies and professionals, it now also provides enhanced online exposure. A CrunchBase profile is particularly useful for professionals. For example, member Gerald Kochan’s CrunchBase profile provides extensive details about Kochan’s work, community involvement and professional background.
3. Twitter for Business
Twitter for Business is another free tool that markedly increases online visibility. Like Facebook, Twitter offers paid advertising options, but Twitter’s free features are extremely powerful. Effective use of Twitter increases website traffic and builds a connected audience. To get the most out of Twitter, make sure your profile and username, or handle as Twitter calls it, is unique and accurately reflects your business identity. And, with Twitter, even more so than Facebook, post frequently and respond quickly. Users expect a Twitter response within an hour. Don’t disappoint them.