I often say visibility equals opportunity.
No matter how great your product, service or business is, if your prospective customer can't find you on the web, it's like you don't exist.
As you know, anyone who has access to the Internet (at last count, there were 1.9 billion people), uses it to find solutions to their problems.
Here's a three-step formula to get you started creating a visible presence on the web, resulting in more opportunities for your business: leads, prospects, sales, media queries, speaking gigs and joint ventures.
#1: Use Your Blog to Set the Stage
A blog is your foundation and starting point for strategically getting your message out to the world. If you don't have a blog yet, the place to start your planning and preparation is this article: Top 10 Easy Steps to Starting a Business Blog.
Using your blog as your hub, or home base, not only provides a presence on the web where you can go deep and intimate with your prospects and customers, it's also a money-saving tool. A blog is far less expensive to build, design and maintain than a traditional static website that may cost thousands of dollars.
Your blog is where you have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, expose your personality and give your audience the chance to get to know, like and finally trust you as you share valuable, useful content that makes their lives better.
Keep in mind that a blog is a search engine magnet. When you post consistently and constantly, the search engines tend to index your content more frequently. Using keywords relevant to what your target audience is looking for gives your content a good chance of being in the top results in searches. You become visible and findable on the web.
To target your message and/or campaign, publish a series of posts directly related to the topic you're promoting. Whether it's your new book, a service or a product, post content for several weeks prior to the launch date of your promotion.
If you don't have a specific promotion, create an editorial calendar and frequently post on the prime topic and/or keywords for which you want to be found. For example, if you have a book being published, start seeding your blog with excerpts and snippets about the launch date, book signings and other events and news.
#2: Use Facebook Strategically
There really shouldn't be a lot of debate about this. With more than half a billion users, you've got to have a presence on Facebook. As a business, that means you must have a page.
From a visibility perspective, this is essential because the content you post on your page gets indexed by the search engines. (If you're not convinced your business should be on Facebook, read this article.)
At bare minimum, syndicate your blog content to your page using the Notes application. This app pulls your blog content to your page wall and ensures your deeper content is front and center for people who land on your page and aren't familiar with your blog. This one tactic will drive many qualified prospects back to your home base. [see note below for more info on syndicating content to Facebook.]
But that is just the minimum. The true value of Facebook is the relationships you build that create the desire of your "fans" to take the step and click through to your content.
Make sure you're constantly growing your page by reminding people to join. Ask and answer questions with your keywords, send updates and let people know what you're up to between promotions. The more active your page, the more visible it is because every action taken by a member of your page is posted on his or her own profile with a link back to your page.
#3: Do Not Ignore Twitter
With 40+ million Twitter updates every day, you want to make sure your message is on the popular microblogging platform as well. Tweets are showing up in real-time search results and with tools like http://search.twitter.com and Twitter management clients like TweetDeck and HootSuite that enable you to search and follow keywords, it's critical to have your content show up when your ideal client does a search.
Use plug-ins (Twitter Tools on WordPress) or automation services like twitterfeed and SocialOomph to make sure your blog posts and announcements about your programs are being fed to your Twitter stream on an ongoing basis. Ideally, this should be no more than 20% of your Twitter activity.
You do need to spend some time every week on Twitter, in real time, responding, replying and sharing great resources (that support your objectives). It's a smart practice to follow your own keywords in a dedicated search column (on HootSuite for example) so you can quickly respond to comments and queries related to your products and services.
This isn't rocket science but many entrepreneurs, service professionals and small and large businesses don't integrate these tactics in their marketing plans or they are reluctant to spend the time to build their visibility. A social media marketing industry report recently revealed businesses that spend 10-20 hours a week actively working on a visibility strategy see the most rewards in terms of opportunity-whatever that looks like for your business. Those who work consistently to build an online presence will be profitable.
These are a few tactics you can quickly implement to start building your visibility on the web. Once these are in place, add one or two new tactics every week and soon you'll be hearing people say, "I see you everywhere!"
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are many ways to build visibility on the web.
*NOTE RE: FACEBOOK SYNDICATION: There are many applications that enable blog syndiacation to your Facebook page. However automated posts do not carry as much weight as manually posted content so you may want to manually post your blog updates on your Page. You will get more click throughs and engagement. See my post on this here.
Have you tried any of these tactics? What are your top tips for creating social media visibility? Please comment in the box below.
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This article was first published on Social Media Examiner.