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In today’s world, you’d be crazy to just build a website and declare your online marketing campaign complete. Your website is important. Absolutely. It’s the only place where you still have absolute control over your brand, your message, your products. But your website’s importance is tempered by the rise of mainstream acceptance of social media. Consumers want to cut through the hype and get real info from real people, i.e., fellow product users, restaurant patrons, customers of your business.

If you lead a small business, take advantage of the free communication tools to build your online brand and connect with more of your customers. Shoot a product video and post it on YouTube. Post coupons on your Twitter account. Create a fan page on Facebook.

Ohana

A small business in Atlantic Beach, Fla. is doing just that. Ohana Hawaiian Shaved Ice opened a month ago and already is connected with 111 fans, (their customers) who are now posting photos and comments about their delicious, one-of-a-kind ices. Those comments form a conversation, and that conversation is free advertising, because every time a Facebook user makes a comment, it’s reflected on his or her status, which is then potentially viewed by that person’s friends. When every person on Facebook has an average of 120 friends, a few comments can suddenly reach thousands of people. That’s what I call expanding business by word of mouth – 21st Century style.

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