The digital world has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. As such, it is more important than ever that business owners are aware of the opportunities presented by digital marketing. The term may immediately evoke thoughts of simply paying a bundle of money to some ad service, but while that remains an option, there are plenty of useful and innovative alternatives.

Follow the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule is essentially a ratio used by professionals in many aspects of life. In terms of social media and digital marketing however, it means that only 20 percent of your social media posting should be direct sales and business-related. The bulk of your posting, 80 percent, should be dedicated to ancillary posting with the intention of building your brand and developing relationships. If you really think about it, nobody wants to be spammed with unending product sales pitches and buy alerts. It gets old and tedious quickly, it’s boring and will cause customers to unfollow you fast. 

Instead, use your social media as a way to show behind the scenes of your business. You can let customers digitally follow along with you at trade shows, vendor fairs, and workshops. Highlight employees and interesting things they have done, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the business. Additionally, don’t shy away from user-generated content. Promote customer postings where they tag your business and use your products or services. The bottom line is, give your customers a reason to keep following you other than basic sales information.

Make Videos

In today’s world, simply being digital is not enough. The days of text-heavy web pages are gone, and even pictures are falling by the wayside in favor of the latest trend – videos. Videos can be either actual live shots of yourself, your employees or customers (with permission), your store or any other actual real video. However, it can also mean things like video infographics or animations. Whatever the need, it can be covered by video. From educating customers of your services or products to entertaining videos of customers or employees in your store to covering customer testimonials, a video can be a strong influence. Even better, watch for current trends you can participate in. In the last few years, many businesses have had fun and received engagement participating in viral video trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge, Harlem Shake dance or, most recently, lip-sync challenges.

Use Social Media Influencers

As social media has become more prominent, so has the concept of the social media influencer. The idea behind an influencer is that they spend time shopping in your store, trying your products and then sharing positive experiences online with their followers. This, of course, doesn’t tell the whole tale, and while using influencers correctly can be a big potential boost to your brand and name recognition, choosing poorly could cost you potential growth in customers. 

Make sure to use influencers that have followers of your target demographics, have a following in the area local to your store if you are a brick and mortar, and review their online postings and behavior to make sure that the person is one you feel comfortable helping represent your brand and identity. Just because an influencer may claim to have millions of followers does not mean these followers are likely to visit your location or buy your products if they aren’t the right audience. Also, beware of influencers who make what seem like lavish or excessive demands. While you should expect to pay or provide some free product in exchange for an influencer’s aid, you still should determine what you are comfortable with.

Remember: Content is King

Have you ever visited a company’s Facebook page to see the last post was months ago? When you are looking for an edge in the digital marketing world, you need to produce regular content to keep people engaged. Use the 80/20 rule to make sure that you are making regular updates to all of your platforms. Just as you want to keep your store and product fresh, you want to make sure your digital offering is fresh too. Find your business Facebook URL to add links to content. Emails, in-store brochures, signage and more can all be a gateway for people to check out your business online. Remember to produce interesting and engaging content, something that people want to share with friends online so that it spreads and gains your business and brand followers.

Email Hasn’t Gone Away

In the age of Facebook this and Twitter that, the older digital standby of email is often forgotten or overlooked. This can give savvy email marketers a key advantage over others. Email marketing is often a low-cost way to get your brand in front of people and generate interest, as well as spread awareness of your other online resources. While you definitely want to avoid being seen as a junk spammer, an effective email campaign is a great way to give out notices of important events or big sales. Those people willing to give you an email are showing they are interested in your products and brand, so be sure to use that to your advantage.

Make Use of Multiple Social Media Platforms

While business is increasingly aware of the potential of social media, there are still many who confine their activity solely to one platform. Perhaps you are most familiar with Facebook personally, but it can help to have your brand out on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or other applicable sites as well. Also be aware of viral trends, which can arise quickly and fade just as fast. If you can get on the ground floor of a viral trend, that can net you a lot of followers and customer interest. By casting a wider net, you are more likely to be privy to these moments, as well as being able to reach more people overall. 

The best part about being in this internet age is that content sharing between platforms is easy, meaning you can maximize your time making a piece of content and then just copy and share to all of your platforms. Or, the best option yet, let your customers create content and tag your brand. The key is to keep a consistent tone and message throughout the platforms you use.

Understand SEO

Chances are you have heard of SEO, short for search engine optimization. You may understand that it is important, but not really understand what it is or how to use it. Simply put, SEO is the art of getting big search engines like Google to provide potential customers with your business when they are searching for something similar. While SEO is big business in itself, there are some simple steps that can help you optimize your brand, especially if you are a business with a physical location or local to a specific area. 

It is important to make sure you claim your business on Google My Business, a Google service that prioritizes local business results for people searching. This also lets you add contact information, website address and photographs or videos to grab attention. Beyond that, choose a website name that is simple and involves your brand or business name. Using strong and simple terms is generally a good idea. Focus on some core ideas and use them liberally on your website. 

Digital marketing is a must for today’s business world. Even small businesses, or brick and mortar stores need an online presence. Thankfully, smart strategies and taking advantage of resources can net you powerful results.

If you enjoyed this article, check out “3 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making on Your Business Social Media Pages”.