Is Your Business Embracing New Media?

By Melissa Hathaway

Nowadays, every business needs a web presence. Whether or not an enterprise has its own website or a simple directory listing, businesses need consumers to find them online. However, if you believe a website alone is sufficient in terms of a new media strategy – think again. Much of your incoming work may be as a result of client retention, recommendations and word of mouth, but no modern business can continue to grow successfully today without a new media strategy. Whatever your organization’s marketing budget, set aside enough to maintain interactive website development, online advertising and social media promotion to keep up with your competitors.

Bang For Your Buck
Marketing a business, whether online or not, is an essential business cost that you need to take on each year just as you would others, such as enterprise liability indemnification or premises rent. Once you have set your budget, it is important that you get the highest return possible for the expenditure. One of the best things about social media marketing is can be inexpensive. However, it’s generally most effective when it’s used to supplement other forms of marketing. It also offers the added benefit of reaching a much wider audience – a global one – than simply your regional clientele.

Social Media Strategies
Let’s assume that your business has a good working website. The question is: how do you attract attention to its existence? Social media is the best option. Create a blog area of your website or a news page. Assume that you have a readership that is interested in the latest things about the boating industry and your company specifically. Now, your goal should be to regularly produce high quality content for those pages. If you cannot do this yourself, outsource the writing. When you post a blog entry or an article, send out a Tweet about its contents or post an update on your company’s Facebook page linking to the article. If you don’t have either of those, now is the time to start. As you link social media postings to content on your website, your website’s visitor traffic will grow. Your website should also gradually rise up the rankings Internet search engines when people input keywords that relate to your company’s services.

Talk Directly And Be Open
Some marine business principals are skeptical about social media, seeing it as nothing more than fluffy public relations. After all, most dealers will never make a direct boat sale as a result of using a social media site. However, these sites do provide business leaders an invaluable tool for communicating directly with customers, and provides them the opportunity to become the face of the business. Use it as a way of building a more direct rapport than you could even through your own staff. Remember to be open and to respond to any negative messages respectfully and quickly. Avoid becoming involved in online arguments. When you use your website or other social media to communicate, be specific. Talk about a niche in your business rather than the entirety of the industry.