When you’re a small business owner or just starting out, it seems like there’s no way to catch up with the big guys.
They’re spending millions on commercials, click-ad campaigns, and more, and you feel there’s no way you can possibly compete. Thankfully, the internet has democratized online marketing and made it possible for small businesses to have the same reach and access as the big guys.
Sometimes online marketing even works out better for the smaller guys.
Best of all, many of the opportunities are completely free. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars promoting your business online. There are many success stories of scrappy startups who built their entire brand and online business entirely through social media and other free platforms online.
Not all categories will work for every business in the same way. Many businesses naturally work better on some platforms than others, and others require you to be a little more creative. But with a bit of ingenuity and consistency, it’s possible to stand out from the crowd using these free services and platforms.
With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social media network worldwide. It’s hard to imagine, but there was a day when it was an emerging platform that businesses didn’t see value in. The first few companies to launch Facebook pages seemed odd at one point, but now no one will take you seriously if you don’t have a Facebook page. But pages aren’t the only options for you with Facebook these days. You can also look into:
Facebook Page Stories
Facebook Messenger Stories
Facebook Messenger Bots
Facebook Watch Parties
LinkedIn is often overly associated with resumes and job hunts. While it is definitely an excellent place for those things, it’s also super beneficial for businesses looking to establish their authority. It’s not usually the best platform for direct sales like some of the others, but this is where you can become a trusted and respected expert in your field, grow your network, and more. Many small businesses and individuals have used LinkedIn to become the de facto thought leader on a subject, which leads to much better sales and contracts down the road. Of course, you need your business listed on LinkedIn (particularly when it comes time to start hiring), but you can also leverage:
Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube
If you make custom knitted sweaters for kittens, you know that Instagram and Pinterest are going to be golden for you. But even companies that think they aren’t visually appealing can find success on the “image” platforms. People are visual and love connecting with your company through photos and videos. Don’t sell anything photogenic? That’s ok. You can highlight your staff, people you associate with, and other aspects of your business. Each of these platforms has a slightly different style and audience, but all use visual storytelling to help you build your brand. And all of these platforms have evolved past their original use to include a range of options and services you can use to promote your brand:
Pinterest Group Boards
Online Channels like Blogging, Podcasting, etc
All businesses and personalities benefit from increased exposure. And the internet gives you many free platforms options to share your ideas, thoughts, content, and more. While you don’t have to do all of these things (you also can), you should try at least one or two to see how they do for you. You might be surprised by what works for you. Don’t think you have enough interesting things to say for a weekly podcast? That’s ok. Make a guest appearance on someone else’s podcast.
You may doubt yourself but look at it this way – you started something. You had an idea, and you took steps to make it happen. There are others who haven’t, who need to hear how you got started. Never doubt that you have something helpful to say to someone. You might not be the next Radiolab or Serial, but you can find your own success. Give one or more of these a try and see how they work for you:
Host a Webinar
Be a Webinar Guest
Guest Blogging for Someone Else’s Blog
Host a Podcast
Be a Guest on a Podcast
New platforms and channels appear seemingly overnight. Many pop up and disappear almost as fast, but creative companies who get in early can succeed. Keep your fingers to the pulse, look for any new developments, and try to think of how you can leverage them as a business owner. If you can jump in before the bigger guys, they’ll seem like they’re copying you once they get around to establishing a presence on the new service. All of these services have seen success in 2020 and 2021:
Your business has so many exciting opportunities and options available for promoting itself today. If anything, being smaller is a benefit with many of these platforms. You are more agile and able to react quickly to changes in trends than a larger organization. Also, it’s more personal to your audience when you speak, so it’s easier for them to believe and trust what you say.
However, it’s vital to remember that while these services provide opportunities to market your company or expertise, they are social communities first. You need to be creative, exciting, and insightful…but most importantly, you need to be authentically you.
Also, each platform has its own style, voice, and expectations, so you need to avoid copying and pasting everything you do across all services. Take the time to really enter into the conversations and engage with your audience. It’ll pay off in a big way!