published Friday, June 4th, 2010

Jenkins: Web a great vehicle to promote brand


by Donnie Jenkins

To promote a brand or blog, the place to start is with a pen and paper. Find a relaxed place to work away from your computer to begin, put the pen to paper and draw or list your central ideas in a simple way.

For example, one excellent method is to use word association by drawing a circle with your name or brand in the middle of the page and then connect other circles with branching ideas to the larger one. This is often called mind-mapping or clustering.

After you complete this step, you need to brutally cut down your ideas to no more than five central points that you want to present on your site or blog. Create sections or pages to match your choices and make them easy to find within 30 seconds or less when someone visits your site. Quicker is always better online.

Choose a provider and build your site or blog. Wordpress and Typepad are excellent choices for blogs, and there are many great locations for site building including BlueHost and Aplus.net. Homestead is your best bet for a quick, simple and powerful site but tends to be more expensive than most.

Create a social networking presence specifically for your business or site on Facebook and Twitter, and for yourself on LinkedIn. Each of these is excellent in its own way.

Facebook is of course becoming an Internet giant. While recent changes have caused a lot of confusion and concern, anyone desiring to create a strong Internet presence can always benefit from it. Facebook Fan Pages (or Like pages as they are now called) are an excellent and free way to promote your efforts.

My column support page at tfpdonniejenkins on Facebook has made it easy to add supportive content to what I write here each week. The Chattanooga Times Free Press also makes excellent use of their Facebook page as well to keep readers up to date.

One of the most powerful aspects of having a Facebook Fan Page is its ability to feed a Twitter account automatically. For example anytime I update the tfpdonniejenkins page, my Twitter account is updated as well, notifying my Twitter followers that they can go there for a new link or story. This has gained me followers all over the world, many of which I would have never had without this connection.

Twitter offers a different approach to networking. It limits your posts a great deal compared to Facebook, but it has its own good points. Shorter posts force users to make their point brief and concise, always a good thing. Also, Twitter tends to attract a different breed of users, and this can open up your business or brand to people who might not find you otherwise. Consider using a Twitter client such as HootSuite or CoTweet as they aggregate your content in an easy to view manner.

LinkedIn is helpful primarily to build a business network. It tends to be more formal and sometime stiff, but it can be very valuable in adding new business contacts to your list.

The final tool for our task is an intelligent e-mail plan and provider. Consider Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber and other such tools to send attractive email updates and sales alerts. Use their tracking tools to analyze what works for you. Study online tutorials on using email and our other tools. And have fun...it sells.

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