You should be on YouTube!

YouTubeYou should be on YouTube! More specifically, your business should be. After all, where else can you get instant exposure to millions of people?

Nearly all of us sell some form of expertise, so an obvious option is a short training video, a how-to, or a question and answer session (get a friend to interview you). Think about what your potential customers might want to know, and provide those answers. It doesn’t have to be complicated. 1-800-FLOWERS does a nice job with this simple video that illustrates how to cut flower stems so that they stay fresh:

Nervous about going on camera? Interview customers – gather case studies that show off the power of using your services, or ask them why they like working with you. Check out whitewater-rafting company Mokimac, who did just that:

If what you do is visual, “before and after” videos can be powerful, as you see with Clutterbusters:

Have a creative streak? Come up with something catchy that appeals to more than simply your target customers – something so funny, so fantastic, so innovative, that people feel compelled to share. This is viral marketing at its best. Compass Bank has some good ones featuring their customized credit cards:

Of course, be careful or you’ll end up with something like this:

Four ways social networking builds your business

A social network

You may know what a social network is, but do you know why you need one? There are a wide variety of ways it can help your business, limited only by your imagination.

To get you started, I’ve got four ideas for you. If you’ve got successful social networking strategies, please post your comments and share your ideas!

  1. Promote a new service – most sites have a place to put in what you are doing, right now. If you have a new product or service you are launching, say so. When I first started my blog, my status read “Wendy is writing for her blog, http://www.techzestblog.com,” and it was a great way to get the word out.
  2. Recruit staff – there are a few angles here. First, have a great blurb about your business – what you do, what makes you special, why someone would want to work there. Then you’ve got a couple of options. You can post that you are looking for someone, and see who comes to you, or you can search your network for people who already possess the skills you need and reach out to them. My most recent hire was a referral from a colleague obtained in just this way.
  3. Build website traffic – this one’s easy. Anywhere you have a personal profile, add your website. Add helpful resources to your site so you can offer people a reason to visit.
  4. Do something buzzworthy – viral marketing can be incredibly effective if you have a creative bent. Release a funny YouTube video, create a fun Facebook application, start a group on LinkedIn, or put together a unique photo album on Flickr. Tell all your friends. If you come up with something buzzworthy, they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on…and suddenly you have a whole new level of name recognition. Be sure whatever you post ties to your business and includes website links so you are easy to find.

Got more ideas? Post your comments below!

Expand your network (your social network, that is)

Social networksSocial networking has taken off–are you in the loop? LinkedIn is hands-down the biggest site for business networking, but many other sites can help you connect. No matter what your interest, there’s a perfect place to share it online.

In this post, we’ll look at the variety of social networking sites available. In a subsequent post, we’ll explore ways these can be used to help you and your business.

  • MySpace was not the first social networking site, but it was one of the first to hit the mainstream and really take off. It remains popular today, with millions of members.
  • Facebook was limited to high school and college students until September 2006. Since then it has usurped MySpace and become *the* place to be online. New applications sprout up each day, making it a broad platform for connections.
  • Plaxo is taking the Facebook approach to the business world in competition to LinkedIn. They’ve long been known for their online address book that requests automatic updates by email, but it remains to be seen how popular its social networking side will be.
  • Flickr is social networking via photos. Post your favorites or post them all, then tag them, label them, categorize them, and share them.
  • YouTube takes Flickr to the next level with video instead of photography. Record anything you want, post it and tag it, then wait for the comments to come in.
  • Twitter allows you to share exactly what you are doing at any point in time. Consider it a real-time community status board.
  • Digg, Del.ico.us, and StumbleUpon are not traditional social networking sites, but they use each the power of community to accomplish the same thing: link you to recommendations made by others with similar interests. By bringing like interests together, everyone gets more of what they love most.

These sites mingle the real world with the virtual world almost seamlessly. While it’s easy to sign up on any of these sites, you’ll have to return regularly to make strong connections. Real-world friends and colleagues require your time and attention; your virtual connections do as well.