Being found online and acquire new followers is important both for people and businesses. In this post I will show you how to get started building your brand online, from some basic steps like “getting a website” to actively engage with present and potential customers. Let’s start now.
1. Get a website
The following statement is valid for both your business and for yourself as a brand: you need a website. If someone looks at you online what do they find? If the first result is some kind of information not managed by you, you are in trouble. You are leaving the control of how you are represented online to other people.
That’s why it’s very important to have a website like YOURBRAND.com or YOURNAME.com (.com is usually the preferred extension, but here you can find more information about what domain name and extension you should choose). This result is the most likely to be the first to appear on Google if you do a little bit of SEO. Having your own website means having full control of the official information about you and your brand, and this is the reason why it should never be replaced by social media accounts.
You can hire a web designer to make you one or “create” one by yourself via Wix or other automatic tools (I suggest to hire someone. It’s more expensive but it’s an investment worth the money. As I said above, your website represents you online. You cannot afford to appear unprofessional.).
Make sure your website is indicized by Google. A quick test can be done by searching “site:YOURWEBSITE.com” (without quotes and with the extension you have chosen for your website. In example for this blog the query is “site:alessandromarrella.com” – click the link to see an example on google). For tips and guides on how to be indicized visit the Google’s Webmaster Tools Support Page.
2. Set up Google My Business
Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) allows you to submit your website to Google and to be listed on Google Search, Maps and Google+. Registering your business will allow you to manage the information available on Google (you can show what time you are open, phone numbers, upload photos…and more), engage with users on Google+ (no, it’s not dead… it’s growing every day more), read and respond to reviews and integrate your listing with Google Analytics. Adding your organisation is very easy. It just requires to follow step-by-step the instructions on the Google My Business page.
3. Create social media accounts
Even if you don’t plan to use all the social media, it’s important to create accounts on all the main ones. Subscribe to Facebook (with a page, not with a personal account), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ (if you followed the step above, you should already have a Google+ account), Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr… I suggest to look for your name on KnowEm and subscribe to all the social media relevant to your niche. You don’t have to be active in all of them (see next point). But having an account prevents “identity thefts”.
4. Be part of the community (and create one around your brand)
Join the groups that include people and brands in your same industry and groups participated by potential customers. Don’t just post your content, be helpful and create value to the communities you join. Reply to questions you know the answer or simply post useful stuff (see next point). It’s the best way to develop a good reputation online. With your social media accounts follow the same rule. Choose the platforms populated by your potential customers and where they are more likely to interact with you (i.e. Facebook is not a great place for “technical” stuff, Google+, StackOverflow and Quora may be more adapt). In other words, be a good fit in the context you want to engage. You can build “sense of community” around yourself as well. Check out the following Slideshare by Richard Millington to discover how:
(In the following link you can find a full collection of great Slideshares from the MozCon 2014 curated by me on LinkedIn)
5. Create and curate Content
It’s a trend between Digital Marketers to use the phrase “Content is King”. Raise your hand if you never heard/used this phrase. There is a reason behind that. I don’t know if you read my article about how can you attract and convert customers with Inbound marketing but the moral of the story is that if you provide great, useful and educational content you have a great opportunity to attract (and not annoy) people. If you didn’t do it earlier, read my article now.
But creating new content is not the only way to satisfy your potential customer’s needs. You can also curate and organise other people’s content. In a world where everybody is producing content to attract more people (do you really think that you are the only one reading this?) good curators will probably become the future authorities. I personally don’t read all the articles from the websites I subscribed to (even if I’m really interested, I subscribed!) but rely on communities that provide me the best articles to read, commented.
If you cannot produce your own content, be a curator. If you do it right, you will gain authority. If you want to discover more about content curation, you should definitely listen to this podcast.
Did you notice how many links (some of them external) I put in this post? This is an example of a mix between creation and curation. If I didn’t post something that can help you, I find an external resource and provide it to you. The only important thing is to satisfy your needs and questions. It doesn’t matter if I’m not the source.
Bonus step: Subscribe to my newsletter
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Any other tip? Did I miss anything you would like to know? Post a comment below!