All serious startups need to get their name out there on the internet. The question is, how? For entrepreneurs, that task can be rather time-consuming as well as difficult. But some sort of online presence is essential for attracting customers, investors and even employees.
Building an online brand that is meaningful and has personality takes time and a little know-how. Here’s what they didn’t teach you in school about building an online brand.
Lesson #1: Use Media Requests To Demonstrate Your Authority
A lot of branding on the Internet is done through your capacity to demonstrate your authority to your customers. This is one of the reasons why so many solopreneurs invest so much time into their various social media channels: they want to be seen as the go-to person for a particular topic.
There’s just one catch: getting attention on social media is difficult. The last thing you want to be doing is handing over hundreds of pounds a month to Facebook, just for the privilege of getting your well-researched helpful articles, posts and videos in front of your audience.
Fortunately, there is a way to bring fans to you. Often reporters need people who have expertise in a particular area of business for their story. They need quotes, help and insight into topics they might not fully understand. Being one of the people that get interviewed for a story is a great way to get your thoughts out in front of people, free of charge.
Right now there are dozens of sites, like HARO, FlackList and Media Kitty, that promise to connect entrepreneurs and professionals with the media. Sign up to these sites and wait for the phone to ring.
Lesson #2: Start A Question And Answer Session
With the rise of question and answer websites comes the opportunity to get your name smattered all over the internet. On sites like Quora, the people who provide the best answers to the community are those who get the most upvotes. You can answer a question on anything, but it’s probably best to stick to subject areas in which you have expertise. People who type in questions into Google will often get Q&A sites in the search results. If you can be the one to answer their question, they’ll remember you as somebody who has expertise in that particular area. Sites like Quora also allow you to link to further material, even if it’s promotional, like your website. This is an excellent way to feed traffic to your business and build your brand.
Lesson #3: Sort Out Your Profiles
Here’s something else they don’t usually teach you about in school: the extreme importance of your online profile information. Professionals scour these networks to find out as much as they can about individuals in their industry, and customers might use them too, especially if you sell a bespoke product.
Consider creating a Google Profile, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a Disqus account where you can share knowledge through blog comments, and an About.Me landing page.
Lesson #4: Create A Unique Digital Brand
Lightbox digital agency says that one of the most important elements of a successful business is a unique digital brand. But creating one out of thin air can be a significant challenge. One of the most important determinants of your brand is your website. Modern websites are like the shop fronts of yesteryear, a window into the personality and offerings of a company. Since your website is the main way you interact with customers, it has to reflect your persona, no matter what that persona is.
For instance, if you’re an upmarket men’s clothing retailer in Central London, your website needs to play into all the usual tropes of this particular market segment (like the clean lines and dark colours), but it also needs to bring something different. Same goes for if you’re starting up a smoothie business. It needs to be fun, colourful but also have additional dimensions not catered for at the moment in the marketplace. (One idea might be to give the website a scientific edge if the aim is to sell smoothies to make people healthy).
Lesson #5: Reach Out To Influencers
One day in the future, educational establishments will teach kids about the importance of reaching out to influential people in their segment. As far as building an online brand goes, this is fast becoming one of the most important avenues. Influencers have tremendous sway over their audiences, and what they say about your product can often determine whether your startup succeeds or fails.
It’s not good idea to try to buy off an influencer to say good things about your product. Most businesses in the industry know that this is a bad idea since influencer’s primary loyalty lies with their fans, not their advertisers. With that said, there are many ways in which startups can muscle their way in. For instance, many influencers run video channels or podcasts and are always in need of new guests. As an expert in your field, or as somebody looking to disrupt a given industry, you’re great interview material and what you say is likely to resonate with many people.
Reach out to influencers by setting out exactly how an interview with you will delight their fans and grow their base. Modern, online tools like Let’s Lunch and GrubWithUs allow you to do this in person, taking influencers out to lunch and wining and dining them until they let you take part in their show.
Lesson #6: Start Guest Posting As If Your Life Depends On It
Try as they might, some bloggers eventually run out of ideas for new topics for their blogs. As a result, they often reach out to other people to fill in the gaps or provide a new perspective. Entrepreneurs and startups are in an ideal position to do this since they are full of new ideas and often have unique takes on the world. Find a blogger who writes in your area and offer to guest-post for free. Don’t forget to include a backlink to your site.