Visual marketing is occupying more and more online territory, and, as a small business owner, you need to respond to this evolution. Here's a brief overview to help you branch out beyond Twitter and Facebook and get started in the visual marketing universe:
Pinterest gives you the chance to be a bit of an artist while still wearing your marketing hat. Think about your whole business from the visual side, so you can choose images to pin that will both represent you and capture viewers' attention. Some examples of great content to pin on your Pinterest profile are ebook and brochure covers (if your company has generated any downloadable content), or good-looking info-graphics. Also, distilling your sales and special offers into really interesting-looking coupons will attract customers' attention while increasing your business's online exposure.
Forbes Magazine encourages small business owners to make use of the social media functionality of Pinterest in a couple of ways. Their first suggestion is to make a pin collection that involves your followers, perhaps by creating a pinboard especially focused on customer stories. Similarly, Pinterest provides you with an opportunity to step out from behind your logo and introduce yourself and your employees. Each week you could focus on a profile of one particular employee, including some photos and a fun interview with the person. All of these profiles could be assembled on a pinboard- a Pinterest version of your company's "About Us" page.
The National Federation of Independent Business gives some examples of how small businesses use Instagram as part of their marketing strategy. The approaches profiled in the article are all based on the personal touch. One business owner uses Instagram as a window into his personal life as well as his business. He feels that customers respond more when they know who they're dealing with, so he includes photos of his dog or his barbecue dinner along with pictures of the T-shirts he sells.
Another business owner turns her work into the basis for ongoing conversations. She teaches art classes and posts her students' work on Instagram. Their parents as well as many website visitors find these photos fascinating, and share them widely.
Don't forget to use hashtags with Instagram; they are powerful tags to help people find your company when searching for a product.
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A step-child of Twitter, this clever little app allows for 6-second videos that you can post on Twitter and Facebook. Like Twitter, Vine encourages (or forces) you to distill your message down into a micro-version.
Business Direct gives some good suggestions to get you started with using Vine, recommending brief testimonials and quickie behind-the-scenes peaks at your business. Vine doesn't stand alone, but just the fact that you're using it on your Facebook or Twitter profile will give your business a cutting-edge identity online.
Being larger and more complex than the other media platforms mentioned here, YouTube requires a more substantial time investment if you want to use it well. Mashable gives some expert tips to getting the most out of your business's YouTube channel, whether you're demonstrating your product, or introducing yourself. Mashable reminds you first to "Watch a lot of YouTube." This suggestion may seem obvious, but plenty of people overlook it. Getting an intuitive sense of what works best in the video medium is crucial before shooting your own videos.
Also, hone your pitch by paying attention to the comments posted in response to your video. While many will be off-topic or even obscene, you'll find some helpful suggestions in there as well. You can also use Google Analytics to see how well your videos are doing. Mashable suggests buying some ads as well. Finally, rather than just running standard ad-type videos, focus on your niche of expertise and post content that's worth watching for its own sake, independent of what you're selling. That approach is at the base of truly expert social media marketing.