As a start-up, in most cases, your primary job in the first year besides building a great product/service is to widen your audience so that it goes in front of as many people as possible. This is done a lot easier with a chunk of cash, so it’s a catch 22. With limited funds and a fuzzy idea of your product market fit, your best option is to start off with all the free options, since one thing you do have a lot of is your time (along with your blood and sweat).
Here are a few things I do, although they may not work for every business, these are just ideas that may be of use to you.
Quora is a place where people go and ask questions on anything and everything. Its not filled with spam or “stupid” questions as it’s linked to your Facebook account. Other people who may have an answer based on their experience can answer questions. It’s very easy to set up and subscribe to topics in your niche or industry. You then get emailed every time a new question is asked and you have the chance to answer it. This is a simple way to build up your credibility and get some eyeballs on your profile which leads to your company page.
Guest Blogging has been mentioned in almost every article on this topic as an inexpensive way to widen your funnel. There are a few ways to go about doing this. You can cold email blog owners which is more likely to be accepted if they have a “write for us” section. In most cases, blog owners will not bother answering your emails unless you make it truly genuine and unique. Even then, a blog worth writing for probably has a lot of requests. My dating blog gets a few requests a week from random people who serve as third parties and only get paid once a back link is published. In any case, I was able to write this blog for a Style Girlfriend only because I sought her out and met her in person while I was in NYC. I did blindly email months before, but got no response. You could definitely try to build warm connections with bloggers or you could just go after blogs that are not popular but still have a decent and loyal audience. Even if you don’t get any bites through their blog, you’ll build your SEO and credibility. But, popular blogs can also be deceptive, I got less than 50 hits to my website from the Style Girlfriend blog post probably because the placement of it was tiny and at the bottom.
Create your own Syndication. What I mean by this is, share your content to various channels beyond your own network. I re-blog my company blog to my old menswear blog which has an established audience and gets around 5000 hits a month. Further to this, I created a generic menswear style and trends facebook page where I post my blogs and Pinterest pictures. I make it so it has nothing to do with my company. I haven’t shared it heavily as of yet. The problem with Facebook pages are that only 10% or less of your fans see your content. The only way to get it seen is through very strategic ads. So, I keep this page’s content completely automated and will return to it once I have a bit of money to spend on ads. I created the page as another channel to build an audience on as more of a long term strategy.
Google + is the underdog of social media networks. It gets a lot of hate and neglect (especially from me). Meanwhile, it’s highly engaging and posting on it only helps your Google search rank. The Google team is smart as they don’t allow automated posting, you have to sign into the page and post manually. By doing so, you actually visit the page. So, I have made it a habit to check it everyday and post something while adding people and plus 1ing a bunch of things. It’s an interesting, and friendly crowd on there that actually interacts with you, very unlike Facebook.
Twitter Lists are great for keeping track of your potential customers, prospects and existing clients. The best part is lists can be kept as private so no one can see they’re on your list. It’s online stalking at its best. Keeping track of lists are best done in Hootsuite or Tweedeck, since you can view everything on one screen. Twitter takes work as it’s not really built for one way communication, but more so for direct one on one engagement. If someone shares something about their day, they do it so they can get reactions or comments on it. As brands, its best to engage like you would a friend and not push your propaganda more than once or twice a week, unless someone directly asks. In that case, share your twitter card.
Do you have any other tricks or hacks? What service has worked best for you?