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How to Go Beyond Your Small Business Blog and Create a Social Media Footprint

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of August 2009 Business Blogging 0 Comments

footprint.jpgEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Mark Hayward. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward. Image by Tyla 75

Is this you?

You have a polished website for your small business and even a professional blog where you publish posts a couple of times per week, and both are meant to help spread your story and bring more sales.

However, you are a bit frustrated because based on your initially optimistic website and blog marketing expectations, for some reason the customers just aren’t coming.

Many small business owners that I know (myself included!) have faced a similar predicament. It can be a bit disheartening on a daily basis knowing that you have a mortgage and bills to pay, yet your online efforts aren’t really providing a return.

When I started my business a few of years ago I made a nice website and a companion blog and waited for the customers to come rushing down the road and break down my door.

Well, I continued to wait for about six months and it garnered minimal results… *insert crickets chirping here*

At first I didn’t really know what the problem was. The information I was posting to my small business blog was not spammy, and in fact was just the opposite, as the site was developed to act as a helpful resource.

What was the problem?

Looking back and analyzing the situation now, the main issue as far as I can tell was that in my mind, my business was being well represented online.

Though, in reality, I was only doing about one-tenth of the work that was required to manage the reputation and promotion of a small business online.

Lucky for me, one day I had what I call, “a social media awakening,” wherein something struck a nerve and I finally realized:

Perhaps, it is time to take the next step and create your small business social media footprint.

The plain and simple truth about marketing your small business online is that there’s much more to Internet promotion and gaining social media traction than a stellar website and blog.

Social Media Footprint

Don’t get me wrong, having an optimized website and small business blog is a fantastic start, but it is not enough.

Creating a social media footprint is the process of getting the name of your business and brand recognized on the Internet at various sites where your niche customers are likely to find you.

The ultimate goal is to establish the online identity of your small business and to proactively manage your reputation.

If for nothing more than the simple fact that, the more locations we (the customers) can find you, the more we can begin to understand and trust what you’re about. The end result being, we are more likely to purchase your goods or services.

How did I do it?

Armed with this new knowledge I decided to take a different approach and move beyond my blog and create a social media footprint for my business.

Disclaimer: It’s very important to remember that there really is no right or wrong way to delve into social media promotion for a small business. You should feel confident in know that we are all learning. (Although, I hear that being a jerk does not provide very good results.)

My specific strategy might not work for you, but listed below is a good portion of the steps that I undertake to promote my small business online:

  • FLICKR – post relevant, well tagged, pictures to FLICKR on a daily basis. That way when people are searching for a photo that is relevant to your niche, you will always be on top of the search results (if they sort by date). Sounds strange, but this part of my routine helped me to land a full page write-up on my business in the international publication, Islands magazine. Note: there are groups and all kinds of manner to get fully (socially) involved on FLICKR, but my plan did not include that much participation.
  • YouTube – along with FLICKR, I started uploading videos to YouTube. Whether you make jewelry, are a plumber, or sell real estate you could start simply with a Flip camera and make some videos that show us how you ply your craft.
  • Forum visits – I am fond of saying that no matter what business you are in, from pet grooming to selling shoes and beyond, there is most certainly a forum that covers your small business niche. Find them, be helpful and answer questions. For my own particular business, TripAdvisor is one of the most powerful sites out there, so I try to answer questions that are related to my destination. By being helpful, you can begin to gain the initial trust of those you hope will become your customers.
  • Help a Reporter (HARO) – is an amazing, FREE email newsletter that comes out three times a day. It is broken down by category (e.g. business, health, lifestyle, technology, etc) and its purpose is to put reporters in touch with potential sources. Read: Free press.
  • Twitter & Facebook – it’s hard to argue with the fact that Twitter and Facebook are revolutionary communication and social media tools. Some small business owners have remarkable results promoting their venture on these sites. At the moment I do NOT really use Twitter or Facebook for marketing my business. I primarily use Twitter for listening, learning, and engaging. So far it has proven to be an invaluable source for networking and hearing about potential opportunities for my business. Should you choose to use Twitter or Facebook for small business promotion, just be aware that you should really know someone well and be comfortable with them, before you start pushing your business. As I stated in a previous Twitip guest post, “It takes a long time to build up a loyal following and develop trust, but it only takes one Tweet to alienate every one of your followers.”

When you review the list above, it might not seem like much, but I always try to remember that it’s the little things (the basics!) that we do on a daily basis that really help with small business promotion over the long term.

Also, it’s not about what anyone else does, the hope here is to get you thinking creatively and to expand your online marketing efforts.

After you spend some time developing a consistent strategy, sooner or later you will figure out what works best for you and which actions are providing measurable results.

Unfortunately, there are NO shortcuts. Hardwork, consistency, listening, engaging, and helping are all required over a period of time to establish a well distributed social media footprint.

I often like to explain to people that you have to tend to your small business social media efforts (almost) everyday like a garden in order to make them bloom and grow.

Have you moved beyond your small business blog to promote your small business? What is some of your strategy?

Mark Hayward lives in the Caribbean and built up a clientele for his small business using nothing but social media. He tries to help beginners make sense of social media and how they can use it for business promotion. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Great advice, I’ve been working on a outside the box strategy for about a week now. My plan is going to revolve around me helping solve the readers problems. Hopefully people pick up on it, otherwise back to the drawing board.

    But I understand what you talking about in this article, at first I thought that by throwing up a few affiliate links that sales commissions would come rolling in. However that was not the case. Lately I’ve been entertaining the idea that I should spend more time promoting myself rather than other peoples products.

  2. I guess to be diligent in posting in many places sure does help with promotion.

    I, myself don’t use flickr or Youtube as much as I should. I do use twitter and facebook but bot as much as I should be.

    I still use articles once and awhile for promotions on my blog but not as often as I should.

    It takes real diligence to keep doing the samethings over again and thats where I slack. Having a daily routine does help with your long term goals.

  3. I thought that picture was some messed up giraffe, for a second!

  4. Solid tips in this article. I’ve considered doing many of these things before to help promote my blog / business, but this is a nice wake-up call to get me moving.

    I also like the concept of a social media footprint; it really captures the idea of making an impact and establishing a presence on the social web – not just in one network or another, but as a whole.

    On that note, I never really thought about using Flickr as a way to create my social media footprint … perhaps because I wasn’t that into photography in the past. I’m now reconsidering that decision.

    Thanks for posting!

  5. hmm, I wasn’t aware of Help a Reporter. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to help many reporters, but I’m willing to give it a shot – I just signed up.

  6. started using you tube and twitter but i don’t want to become known as a spammer so i am treading cautiously
    never heard of help the reporter , but dont know if my inbox can take anymore emails , i really am going to have to go through and delete all the spammers
    thanks a jolly good read.

  7. Hi Darren and Mark,

    Great information. I really like the personal experience component and appreciate the real “skinny” on using social media for business.

    We’re all trying to figure it out and keep on top of the newest and best strategies and this article certainly is helpful.


  8. Thanks for the mention of HARO! Glad you like it! :)

  9. I’ve been using a combination of Twitter, Digg, article marketing, and posting relevant comments on popular blogs to improve my blog traffic. The results have been fantastic. I’ve raised my average traffic to 300 unique visitors per day in two months. I’m using a free blog application and simple template. I have set goals for myself also, that’s important. When I can average 1000 visitors per day for 7 days, I plan on purchasing my own domain and hosting and starting a WordPress blog, but not until I prove to myself I can reach my goal. I find that is the best way to go. You also must realize that this takes work and it won’t happen overnight.

  10. Thank you for the Flickr and Help A Reporter tips. I hadn’t considered any of those either.

    It’s amazing how much has changed over the years. It’s no longer enough to simply post great content online because it’ll be drowned out. There’s so much out there. The footprint size keeps expanding.

    I’ve found that the most effective way to build that footprint is to dominate in unusual places. Like your use of Flickr… that’s not a crowded outlet yet (the way you’re using it anyway), so you stand out. Facebook and Twitter are still great resources, but standing out elsewhere is often easier and more effective.

    Marshall Jones Jr.

  11. Help a Reporter sounds fantastic and will look into it. Also, something you’re doing now (guest posting) is a crucial part of making friends in the community and growing your blog. Being isolated from other bloggers is a bad way to go in my honest opinion and when you get out there and guest post while encourage others to guest post on your blog, you make connections and give readers a new source of information.

  12. Thanks for the help reporter link. Sounds like a nice little tool.

  13. Cute photo Darren–definitely got my attention.

  14. Help a report sounds fantastic. I’ve been trying to promote my blog for ages, but this sounds perfect. Cheers for the heads up.

  15. This is all really interesting. I love the idea of moving to a different realm than you find yourself in. This sort of thinking leads to revolutionary new ideas and ways of doing the same old things.

    For instance, I always just thought of Flickr and Youtube as entertainment and photo holding places. It blows my mind to think of them as tools to improve the social footprint.

    I do have one question, since my focus is on creating a money making blog, I can’t really think how videos or flickr would apply, can you help me get out of the box I have trapped myself in?

  16. Its a game of inches. Great post! :)

    P.S. If you need motivation watch this clip of Al Pacino in the movie Any Given Sunday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4tIrjBDkk

  17. Help A Reporter is a great resource. Regardless of your area of expertise or type of business, you’re bound to find a topic you can speak about with authority. It’s a good way to gain valuable media exposure.

  18. While I do think a social media profile is important to a small business, I think too many business skip forward to social media without having a proper foundation.

    That foundation is a solid website / blog with lots of content that is ever evolving. The site needs to have great SEO and needs to be updated often.

    I have gotten business and made great connections from SMM but SEO and SERPS are where the majority of my online real estate business comes from.

    If you think that 6 months into blogging you are going to see great results you are mistaken. Plan on years not months. But when you have put in the time, the results will seem almost magical.

    It’s a lot like the rock band that everyone thinks is an overnight sensation. Overnight means 10 years on the road living out of a van travelling the mid-west from bar to bar just barely making ends meet.

    There aren’t many shortcuts in this life and social media certainly isn’t one of them.

  19. This is a great article, a great blog period. I’m very fortunate to have found it. I’m just now getting my feet wet with blogging and have so far to go. So it is good for me to find a problogger with great, relevant content to help me move forward in my efforts.

    I have monetize website utilizing adsense and have been averaging 20 hits per day. A far cry from my first goal which is 200 hits a day, but I will keep reading, learning, building my social media presense, and keep at the task(s) at hand.

    Thanks again.

  20. Would like to hear your thoughts on article marketing and blog carnivals.

  21. OMG Eric B. You had me rolling on the floor laughing about the picture being a messed up giraffe! LOL….OMG, that is hilarious!!!

    Great post and valuable information. Never really thought about using Flickr like that. I own a virtual assistant services business, what sort of pictures would I post? Hhmmmm, see not sure about that one.

    Love the information and I really appreciate you sharing. Thank you!

    Eric B.–too darn funny!!! That made my night!

  22. Fantastic article Mark – it really builds on a lot of the other stuff you’ve been writing about lately.

    I met a blogging friend yesterday and spoke about those sources, but not anywhere near as good as you. I’ll be referring her to this post.

    I didn’t even think about Help A Reporter Out – thanks heaps for that!

    I think other useful sources can be slideshare and upcoming.com – but these seem (to me) to be very business orientated.

    Evan – in most cases, article marketing and blog carnivals don’t provide as good of a ROI as other forms. I think it can work in certain niches, but I feel its better to invest time onto twitter and build a community so people share the links naturally.

    – Jade

  23. Every day I hear more about Twitter & Facebook … I will make an account although I think that Youtube offers more advantages

  24. Fantastic article Mark – it really builds on a lot of the other stuff you’ve been writing about lately.

    I met a blogging friend yesterday and spoke about those sources, but not anywhere near as good as you. I’ll be referring her to this post.

    I didn’t even think about Help A Reporter Out – thanks heaps for that!

    I think other useful sources can be slideshare and upcoming.com – but these seem (to me) to be very business orientated.

    Evan – in most cases, article marketing and blog carnivals don’t provide as good of a ROI as other forms. I think it can work in certain niches, but I feel its better to invest time onto twitter and build a community so people share the links naturally.

    – Jade
    BTW I love your blog!

  25. Thanks for bringing HARO to my attention. Gonna take a look.


  26. This is indeed an ongoing challenging topic. Thanks for the great advice.

    Ron D

  27. Nice list of tips to get started. It’s also extremely important to emphasize that the amount of time you put into your social media efforts will ultimately determine your success — the more you put in, the more you’ll get out!!

  28. Quite good information about to make social footprints..
    It is a hard work for long term business.. Don’t think easy in online business.. Social footprint is important..

  29. Social media is so important today. So much traffic goes there you need a solid image and brand. Build it here and link back to you blog about page.

    You will see that the people will come and check out what you have to offer.

  30. Hi – great article thanks. I think it will be helpful. But yes indeed, you must first focuss on getting a solid base: good content, good seo.
    Of course you can do some things parallel but there’s no use in starting to promote your website or blog if you haven’t written enough content yet.

  31. I think the key here is that there are no shortcuts and you have to consistently put in the time. The little things matter and you have to find your voice. Be natural. Be real. Be you. And show up! No matter how much we’d like to hurry the process, you have to start somewhere. Seth Godin’s book The Dip is a great read on this.

  32. The power of social media is increasing day by day. Organizations can not afford not to acknowledge what it can do for them and how they can use it to connect with their customer.

  33. And don’t forget LinkedIn, which is great for its groups of others in your field.

  34. I think the real strength comes from the quality of product itself. However, maintained quality contents help to ensure the demand for your product.

  35. Really glad to see someone giving a nod to forums. Sometimes people get transfixed in the headlights of big, flashy and over-complex networking sites. See my lastest blog for more on this…

  36. I’d say I am lacking in the Flickr, and YouTube department. I have a great idea for gathering photos to post every week. As for YouTube…uh I don’t like being on camera and I don’t have a voice that I can project so I think I will take up voice lessons before I go running off to YouTube.


  37. Main drawback of this web 2.0 is they will give you results till you feed them us. Once you stopped they will down to earth within next two days.

    But however next benefit is keep doing this for at least 4 months and these 4 months will help you to be as a brand.

  38. You missed LinkedIn, one of the most popular of them all.

  39. LinkedIn is largely unfathomable for the average small business (more geared towards the corporates) and has a ‘steep’ learning curve. Best to start off with something a little more… accessable. ;-)

  40. LinkedIn is really easy to use. I use it for my main small business in publishing services, for which I don’t have or need a website, and I’ve both found work and found good people to do work. Just fill out the form, look for groups, and answer other members’ questions. I’ve even had the opportunity to recommend Darren in answer to a question!

  41. I think the Flickr part is very interesting, Most of my website traffic is from Google Image or Bing Image. if you create a separate page for each Photo or Picture on your website I bet your Unique visitor rate will increase and make sure you link them back to your homepage.

  42. Leslie McLellan says: 08/24/2009 at 1:06 am

    Great article! I’m a destination marketer about a month away from launching my own website and blog. This puts the whole enchilada into perspective. BTW – love HARO, it’s a terrific resource!

  43. I’m not sure how to integrate these suggestions with my blogging/career focus. I’m a student in anatomy and paleontology, is my niche too narrow to be effective?


  44. It is certainly the small steps that can have the largest impression over time. At first it may seem like a lot of work to “socialize” but the time invested will usually pay dividends after w while. Patience is the key. Keep working your social plan and you will make a big impression.


  45. Hello Mark,

    Thank you very much for this information. Social Media Marketing is in many cases the most effective way to reach potential customers out there, but companies still have not realized how important it is to create a strategic plan, so the online branding is coherent and recognizable. While it is a great way for Startups to do Grassroot Marketing, I am still disappointed that even medium sized to large companies think that hiring a student at minimum wage to create a Facebook or MySpace Profile is all they need to do. However, they will get what they pay for…

  46. Thanks for this article. I signed up for HARO – excited to see what happens with that.

    And I had heard about using FLICKR before, a few times, but reading it here is finally getting me to start incorporating it into my routine. I promote French travel and sell French vintage items online so I have plenty of images to submit.

    I appreciate how you layed out your basic strategy – very helpful!!

  47. That is some excellent advice. I market locally as much as I can, and don’t plan on too much response directly from internet. I started a blog in hopes to change that. But have not had much response. Now i’m thinking that the facebook, twitter, etc. move might be a good idea.

    Thanks for the advice.

  48. Great tips. Creating the proper and necessary footprint for a business can be difficult,but with your tips and information, I feel that I am on my way to future success, thanks.

  49. I think the Flickr part is very interesting, Most of my website traffic is from Google Image or Bing Image. if you create a separate page for each Photo or Picture on your website I bet your Unique visitor rate will increase and make sure you link them back to your homepage.

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