This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here.
Small business owners have long been accustomed to wearing different hats, but in today’s shifting marketing sands, it can be hard to figure out just where and what you should be doing to promote your small business. Do you need a web presence? What kinds of businesses benefit the most from Pinterest? Who the heck is on Facebook?
Unraveling A Web of Confusion
Long gone are the days when you could simply place an ad in the newspaper or Yellow Pages and people would flock to your store. Although marketing in 2015 and 2016 isn’t what it used to be, your small business now has the potential to serve customers across the globe, so it’s not all bad. In order to earn such far and wide product distribution, though, you have to find a way to reach customers anywhere — that’s where it gets difficult.
We’ve known for a while that using the web can attract lots of customers, but you have to do more than just drop a website on the Internet and never visit it again. Ranking on Google is a sure-fire way to get attention when someone searches for your type of business, but earning the attention of the search giant can be tricky. Blogging is one method to add some really useful information to your site and show Google that you’re serious about getting noticed.
Google’s looking for well-written, informative content on your blog that will give your visitors some value. If, for example, your business is selling loose leaf teas, you might write blog posts about the history of tea, how tea is used in various cultures, choosing the best teas to pair with certain meals or information on preparing different types of tea.
Pining for Pinterest or Longing for LinkedIn?
Plenty of businesses think they need to be on Pinterest or LinkedIn, but the truth is that these platforms cater to specific subsets of users. They can both be highly effective for certain small businesses, but not all will see a boost from these social media platforms.
You can think of LinkedIn as the Facebook for business. Here you can read business articles, join groups about business topics and search for information on other businesses, like 3rd party logistics companies. You can’t sell anything directly on LinkedIn outside of paid ads, but if you offer a service that other business owners might need or you’re a wholesaler, LinkedIn can help you network with a world of potential business connections.
Pinterest is another enigma for small business owners and for similar reasons. Like LinkedIn, it’s designed for a very small target audience, albeit an active one. According to Pew Research Center, about 28 percent of adults were using Pinterest in 2014, overall users represent about 42 percent of adult women and 13 percent of adult men.
The overwhelmingly white female population of Pinterest is more or less evenly divided among age groups and education status, making it a great place for a huge variety of businesses. Although plenty of businesses can thrive there, you might want to reconsider your time investment if your primary products are things like mustache wax and beard conditioner.
Web sites and specialty sites like LinkedIn and Pinterest are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things you can be doing to promote your small business online. We’ll dive into more places to spread the word on the Internet in part two of this two-part series.