I’ve written on this blog about choosing a PR firm, emailing the press, and the importance of a press kit. But you cannot solely rely on the press for spreading the word about what you’re selling. Business media coverage is often a lottery – and even if you’re fortunate enough to ‘win’, ongoing media coverage is a rarity for the vast majority of companies.
On that basis, you must think about communicating beyond such publications. Fortunately, modern tools and outlets make it easier than ever to spread the word about what you do, providing a wealth of opportunities for targeting individuals and even your total addressable market (TAM).
How to tell the world about your business without media attention
When delving into social media and the like, it’s important to avoid common mistakes. Below are 10 ways to successfully spread the word about your business content and create brand awareness without media coverage.
1. Create a plan
There’s a temptation with social media – especially if you already have some accounts – to treat it in a casual, ad-hoc manner. That approach won’t benefit you any more than it will any other aspect of your business. You instead must decide what your goals are, and how you’re going to achieve them. Be ambitious, but also realistic; and check out what others in your field are doing, not least to ascertain what works – and what doesn’t.
2. Don’t skimp on time
You might think it’s easy to fire off the odd tweet or Facebook post, or chuck another nice picture on to Instagram. But that’s often not the case. When this is about your business rather than just a personal feed for friends, all of these things require careful thought – and that takes time. Additionally, once you have a following on social networks, it’s dangerous to leave feeds to stagnate. So block out time in your calendar to keep on top of things, or attempts at getting the word out could do more harm than good.
3. Say a lot with a little
Attention spans are dropping. People ingest news as headlines. On that basis, a 500-word outline as to why your product or service is amazing isn’t going to cut it. Save it for a blog. On social media, strip things back to the bone – short, sharp, punchy copy is what’s needed. If that’s not something you feel confident in creating, get a copywriter involved.
4. Embrace visual mediums
Great images can do so much for any brand, be they pictures of a product, or something interesting that draws the eye. This is of course essential for the likes of Instagram; but also on text-oriented social networks, a great image can break up a sea of words and get people interested. Video is a good bet, too, whether you want to run your own YouTube channel, or target influencers to chat about your wares.
5. Balance budget and quality
You’re not made of money – and this means you’re going to have to make tough decisions. Video is expensive; but if you throw something amateurish online, it could make your brand look like a tinpot operation. So use your budget wisely. At the very least, get some great photography done, and repurpose shoots wherever possible. Try to stay away from stock imagery or videos, unless you can do something especially creative or subversive with it.
6. Target the right audiences
You only have limited time, and so need to put your efforts into areas of communication that will get the most returns. Do your research. As Hootsuite reported, people tend to make assumptions about specific platforms – such as that “young people don’t use Facebook” – but those assumptions can turn out to be wrong. If you’re targeting particular social groups or geographic regions, that will also impact the networks you most work with.
7. Always be professional
The days of overtly formal communication may be disappearing, but don’t move the needle too far. Every day, some corporation makes a massive faux-pas online by saying something inappropriate. Be friendly, but remember underneath it all that you are a business trying to sell things. By all means have a bit of fun, but keep things appropriate and fitting, and ensure your content is quality rather than churn.
8. Respond to people
When it comes to social networking, the ‘social’ bit is something a great many companies fail horribly at. If you cannot dedicate time to respond to online queries, your brand may take a hit. You needn’t respond to every single message or comment that comes your way, but if people feel like they’re communicating with a wall, they’ll head elsewhere. Also, don’t just be reactive – ask questions of your followers, to further engage them with what you’re doing.
9. Don’t be afraid of reuse
Although you must ensure you optimize your content for platforms you decide to use, that doesn’t mean starting from scratch every time. It’s feasible to create a compelling piece of content that works across a range of networks with minor tweaks for each one. Also, don’t be afraid of reposting content. If you have an especially great post that got traction, multiple airings can be beneficial – just don’t spam feeds with the same post several times per day.
10. Remember that offline exists
You can get a long way online, and potentially get the word out on a worldwide basis, regardless of whether the business media takes an interest in what you do. But don’t forget that the real world exists, too. Look for local events, exhibitions, breakfast meetings, and niche publications that may help you spread the word. With the right mix of outlets and people, they should all support each-other, feedback crossing divides to better everything from your next live presentation to an upcoming shoot for Instagram.
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