Face it; to your customers, you are your direct sales business, and a big part of what that business is in their eyes. No matter what products or services your business might offer, how your customers perceive you makes up a significant part of the overall business brand. Choosing the right product or service is important, of course, but if you want your business to succeed, you need to promote the brand – and yourself – in the best possible light. Here are a few tips to show you how to do just that, using one of the most powerful tools available to you: social media.
1) Choose the right social media networks.
Social Media Camp 2009 – Using Social Media for Small Business (Photo credit: deanmeyersnet)
Different social media services are geared toward different objectives, and you’ll want to set up accounts that will be most effective in reaching people who are likely to become your customers. Facebook is by far the largest of the social media networks, and it appeals to those who are into more informal and casual exchanges. Twitter is kind of an online soapbox, where people make brief announcements about pretty much anything that comes to mind. Yelp is a good resource to let people know what you’re about, where you are, and – by other people’s reviews – what it is like to deal with your company. And while Linkedin is a more professionally-oriented network, it offers access to many groups of people who share common interests beyond their careers, and might well be a good resource. There are, of course, many other social media sites and services that may serve to help you establish your presence and brand, but these few are good places to start.
2) Make it personal, but keep it professional.
Endeavor to behave on the social media sites the same way as you would at a party you were having in a friend’s home. While you needn’t be shy in singing your business and/or product’s praises, avoid the temptation to sell. If others find you well-informed and likable, they will be much more inclined to look favorably at what your business has to offer. You want your brand – your business, your products, and yourself – to be invited to other parties, and for your prospective customers to want to come to your parties.
3) Are paid accounts and ads helpful?
Many social media sites require that members who sign up primarily to promote their businesses take out a paid membership. The cost isn’t very high, and beyond helping you avoid violating the sites’ terms of service, paid accounts often allow you to post additional promotional materials and ads. Adding more compelling information about your product or service can prove useful, so long as you don’t overdo it.
4) Include links to other sites and blogs that will enhance your brand’s image and visibility.
In addition to enhancing the perceived value of your brand among other members, additional links will increase your standings in the search engines’ algorithms, and can make your page and your brand-affiliated websites rank higher and appear closer to the top of people’s searches.
5) Keep an eye out for what others are saying about you, your product/service, and your brand.
Knowing what about you and your business/brand is showing up on the web can be an invaluable tool. Run Google searches, sign up for Google Alerts, and access sites such as http://freepeoplesearch.org. You may find that your business/brand is being praised on other forums that you hadn’t known about, and which you might want to join, as well. You might even approach the people who say nice things about you and ask them if it’s okay to use their comments as testimonials on your other forums. Their responses will usually be positive, especially if you give them a nice thank you gift and some recognition. You might also find some negative comments, which you’ll want to address, either by resolving any underlying problems or by presenting your side of the situation.
Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be on your way to expanding the positive awareness of your brand. The more people know – and think positively – about your business and your brand, the bigger your customer base will be. And that is, after all, the name of the game in your direct sales business.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from free people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.