Today I'd like to address how to use social networks and YouTube to promote a business.
Q: I have used computers for years in my business and have been selling my products online since 1998. I consider myself computer savvy and technically proficient, but I'm at a loss when it comes to using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and even YouTube to promote my business. Is there a simple way to approach this?
A: Your question is the one I most often receive from business owners. Let me first give you a model of how to think of promotion and public relations in general, one that has been used in various ways for years.
Visualize a bicycle wheel with a hub at the center and spokes going outward in all directions to the edge of the wheel. The hub is your brand or business, and the spokes represent every point of contact or outreach that you have to promote your business. These points of contact include e-mail, website exposure, phone calls and, now, the idea of social networking and online video.
While it is true that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are new entities, the same time-tested rules apply to them as well as to areas with which you are familiar. You must first have a focused and central message or brand to promote, well-defined and consistently marketed. You must have a system of delivery or distribution that meets, if not surpasses, customer expectations. Finally, you must be able to measure accurately everything you do to promote your business to be sure it's cost-effective and productive.
The way to approach social networking is to weave it into your current system as much as possible and, at the same time, to adapt and change your system to these new avenues of contact where it will help to do so. Think again of the wheel model: Everything connects to the center.
A good and simple way to begin is to establish a personal account on Facebook, then to develop what is called a Fan Page or Like Page for your business. You may then invite your Facebook friends to the Page and send others to it via its URL or Internet address. One great way to begin populating the page is to simply link to relevant products, stories and videos that pertain to your business.
Facebook also allows you to create what are called custom tabs for your Fan page and to present one of these first when someone goes to your page. Setting up the tab can be a bit technical and challenging, but there are services that will do it for you for a fee.
Finally, you may develop Facebook applications to advertise your business. This can be expensive and complex, so it's best to approach this only when you have a bit of expertise or have someone who can handle the task for you.
Once you set up your Facebook page, create an account on Twitter. Once this is done, you can set up your Facebook Fan Page to automatically update your Twitter account with each new post. This is a very effective way to gain new followers and prospects.
Finally, create a YouTube account and allow it to connect with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will send an update to each service anytime you upload a video. Use video liberally as it is the most effective online tool for promotion.
This is a very basic approach, but can be very effective if used consistently.