You’ve taken the first steps to get your business up and running. You’ve designed an eye-catching logo and used an online generator to ensure your brand name is unique. You’ve created a website, an ecommerce store, and several social media accounts. You have lots of tools to gather data on your customers, but there’s one problem: your customers haven’t shown up yet.
If you were running a brick and mortar store, you could have a grand opening with flashing signs, live music, and your nephew handing out flyers while dressed as a lovable, furry mascot. Establishing an online presence, however, requires a more subtle approach. Here are three ways you can build your brand from the ground up.
- Join the conversation.
If your customers won’t come to you, go to them by following the social media accounts your target audience is most likely to follow. If you like, retweet, and comment on other people’s posts, they’ll probably return the favor.
Intechnic emphasizes the importance of adding value to each interaction: “You should set aside the time to reach out and write personalized messages, engage in discussions, share and comment on someone else’s content as opposed to just pushing yours down everyone’s throat. By adding value to these relationships, others will be more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.”
If you’re not sure what to contribute, or no one else is commenting, open-ended questions can get the conversation going. You might also thank the author for providing the content, but be sure you refer to specific details to show you’re expressing genuine interest, not using bots to post cookie cutter responses en masse.
While you don’t have glowing signs and costumed relatives at your disposal, you do have plenty of visual tools, such as emojis, memes, and GIFs. You might use them in your reply posts to demonstrate your enthusiasm and make your posts stand out. SEMrush advises businesses to avoid using these conventions excessively; one emoji shows enthusiasm, but a dozen suggests mental illness. Reserve visual elements for light-hearted messages; a GIF of a weeping cartoon character is inappropriate in a post expressing sympathy.
- Market your content.
Another way to add value to the conversation is by sharing your expertise in a longer, more detailed format. Create a blog on your website and share each post on social media. Building a following of your own takes time, but you can take advantage of the established readership of popular blogs, especially the ones you enjoy reading.
HubSpot reports how the creators of Buffer, a social media publishing platform, attracted 100,000 registered users in the company’s first nine months. Their only form of advertising was the link they included every time they wrote a post on someone’s else’s blog. While they began writing for blogs with a fairly small following, they eventually earned a reputation for their quality content and were invited to write more than 100 guest posts.
Search Engine Journal explains how a blog post often serves as the initial point of contact between a business and a prospective customer. Customers do online searches to find answers to their questions. If your content offers the solution they’re looking for or suggests a better option they hadn’t even considered, you’re well on your way to establishing trust.
To find out what your audience is already searching for, SEOpressor.com recommends using the “Get Ideas” tab in Google Keyword Planner. By targeting your blog posts to your customer’s specific needs and using the right SEO keywords, you can ensure your content is among the first search results they see.
- Team up with an influencer.
Just as a blogger with an established readership can help your content get the necessary exposure, a social media user with an established group of followers can help promote your products. Influencers are usually looking to partner with brands that reflect their interests or values.
One of the best platforms for influencer marketing is Instagram. Later recommends looking for influencers with high engagement rates, which “means their followers are paying attention and taking action on their content.” While celebrities often have the biggest following, it’s actually “micro influencers,” with fewer than 30,000 followers, who score highest in engagement. They also typically charge less for promoting products.
Influencers promote products in a variety of ways, from posting photos that show how they use the product to writing a formal review. Forbes notes, “Reading a review from an influencer you follow is usually more compelling than a review from an unknown person.” Reviews are most valuable when they’re authentic, including a few minor complaints along with the praise.
How did you promote your business in its early days? Share your experiences in the comments.