Even twenty years ago, the formula for advertising a business was simple: Make sure
you’re in the phone book and put aside a portion of your budget for outdoor and print advertising. If you really needed to get the word out, you saved up and bought a package of 30-second spots on television.
These days, a great YouTube video can attract more viewers and gain far more traction than even an ad during the Super Bowl. For both grey-haired veterans and tech-challenged new business owners, the variety of marketing options can be overwhelming. Can’t you just hear your salty old uncle complaining, “It seems like just yesterday that everyone was screaming about having a website. Now, I’m supposed to have an app and a Facebook something-or-other!”
Even if you’re already well-versed in the world of Facebook, building your company’s presence across multiple social media outlets is the single biggest thing you can do to increase your presence on the web. That’s primarily because mobile devices are quickly overtaking traditional computers as the primary means of accessing the internet. Sometime during 2013, it’s estimated that the shift will occur, marking ‘mobile’ as the official number one priority when it comes to marking.
Be ready, because the time is already here. To optimize the presence of your business on a mobile-based internet, pay attention to each of these steps:
1. Start With Your Website
You do already have a website, right? Whether you’re just building a new one or updating your existing site, it’s of paramount importance that you ensure it’s functional on a variety of mobile platforms. Check that your website looks like it’s supposed to on an iPhone using both Safari and Opera browsers, and on Android phones. Do the same thing with an Android tablet and an iPad.
If your website doesn’t look right or doesn’t appear at all (especially on Apple devices), you may have Flash incorporated into the site without having a non-Flash version available to those users. Contact your web developer immediately and have them create a mobile friendly site. Even if you used an online template, most of these providers now offer mobile friendly adaptations. It could be as simple as reconfiguring a few things yourself.
If you have a website but it doesn’t appear properly on mobile devices, remedy the problem immediately.
2. Build an App (Optional)
Many website templates online now include Android and iPhone apps. If it’s easy to do, why not? On the other hand, the app markets are cluttered with apps. Decide what the purpose of your app is. Does it provide a service that people will find useful? If so, then build it. If all you’re doing is putting information about your business in another place, however, your app won’t be popular. Focus on your mobile website.
3. Get Social
You need a website, but social media is almost equally important. Start with Facebook — it’s still the big boy on the block. Either Twitter or Pinterest should be next, and preferably both. If your business can promote itself through pictures in any way (obviously ideal for retail), Pinterest can inspire users to spread your product for you.
Got a good idea for a video to promote your business? You no longer need a huge marketing budget to make film ads and get them to your audience. YouTube offers billions of spectators — it’s up to you to create something they want to see.
4. Be Engaging
Step four could be an addendum to the third, but the concept is so important that it deserves its own number. The purpose of social media is to engage and spark conversation. You’re building a reputation for yourself and your business.
When speaking from your company’s Facebook account, use a real name. People want to hear from a person, not an entity.
Make sure that everything you post to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook is interesting and relevant. Don’t use social media as just another place to dump your advertising lines. It’s about creating dialogue. When you ask questions and are quick to reply to your followers that comment, you’ll literally put your business at their fingertips.
5. Get Creative
Text messaging is the fastest growing spectrum of ‘spam.’ Fight that trend while taking advantage of the medium by using texts to alert customers of short-term deep discounts. Give people an incentive to give you their number (i.e., 50% off of their purchase, on the spot). Keep your texts to once or twice a week, and make sure your giveaway is worth it. We’re talking ‘Buy 1, Get 1 Free’ – not a measly 10 percent off.
Optimizing your company’s mobile presence on the web isn’t difficult. It takes a bit of legwork and regular updating of your social media sites, but it should happen naturally. If you use a smartphone or tablet yourself, simply provide the same level of service and interaction that you receive from brands that you patronize as a consumer.
What other ideas do you have for enhancing your company’s presence on the mobile web?
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.
Sandy Miller has been helping clients with marketing and advertising projects for over 15 years. In that time I have seen lots of changes but nothing as exciting as the introduction of social media.