Many of the tools that have been available on the internet for some time, are now being utilised by businesses and delivering real results in the areas of sales, branding and relationships with other business.
You should at least consider how the following tools may help you extend the reach of your business:
Social networking – more business people everyday are starting to use online social networking tools for networking with business colleagues, not just gathering more online ‘friends’. Many of my colleagues (and I’m in this situation as well) have their details listed on a number of different business oriented social networking tools such as Plaxo, LinkedIn, and Xing as well as some of the more ‘traditionally’ leisure time networks such as FaceBook and MySpace. These last two are also increasingly being used for business purposes.
Next time you are looking for a particular type of business, consider using your online networks to find that business. One way to do this is to use the Ask A Question feature in LinkedIn. Kathie Thomas of A Clayton’s Secretary uses this facility very well to extend her business.
Another way to utilise these online networks is to provide comment on your topic of expertise via a Blog and invite others to comment / learn from you.
Yet another way is to join a topic group (such as those in Plaxo) and comment on / add posts to the group about that topic, thus helping to establish yourself as an expert in the area.
Video promotion – promoting a key solution you have to a particular problem can be done quite easily via video sharing websites, the most popular of which is YouTube. The recent American elections saw many videos added to YouTube by both sides of politics. Creating the video doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and can be just a recording of your PC slide show or navigation around the screen + sound narration. The funnier / more quirky your video is, the more likely it is that people will tell their friends about it. The more popular the video, the more likely it is that people will find the video via YouTube features such as ‘Videos Being Watched Right Now’ and ‘Most Viewed’, ‘Most Discussed’ etc. There is also the opportunity to pay to promote your video in the ‘Promoted Videos’ section.
Tools to help people manage their favourites – as people use the internet more and more, managing favourites can quickly become very difficult using the browser ‘favourites’ facility. That’s why tools such as Stumble Upon, Del.icio.us, Digg and Furl have become so popular. We’re linking to each of these sites from our of our recent client projects. Linking to the bookmarking sites from your site makes it that bit easier for people who use these tools to add a link to your site, and serves as a reminder as did the old ‘Add to Favourites’ link.
News sites – allowing you to submit news articles for dissemination around the internet such as Reddit (where you can, by topic, quickly see what’s hot, new, controversial and top), Digg, Propeller and Newsvine. In the words of Newsvine: ‘updated continuously by citizens like you, Newsvine is an instant reflection of what the world is talking about at any given moment’.
Clearly, you’re not going to be able to do all of the above at once. I suggest that you choose one or two ideas that are appropriate to your business, and give those a try. Apart from potentially reaching new audiences about your business, participating in the above sites can also help to build your rank in the search engines.
Areas such as social networking take time to develop into meaningful results; both time that you need to put in, and also elapsed time for other participants to see that you are sticking around and getting involved. This is not surprising; it’s just like face to face networks. The difference is that you can meet people all around the world in your area of expertise, not just the people that can meet at a nearby venue.
If you would like to recommend or share your story about using any of the above or different tools, please feel free to post your comments.by