Last week, I wrote a blog post about my launch strategy and initial marketing efforts. One of the commenters, Robby Grossman, suggested I also use a social media strategy, which admittedly is something I have not done much planning for. Initially, I had planned to focus more on traditional media and marketing since my target customer is small business and individual site owners. After doing some more research, I have decided to revise my strategy somewhat for the first months after go-live.
Blogging has always been a key part of my launch plan. Not only do I maintain this blog on starting a MicroISV and small software business, but I will also be maintaining a blog on my product site, focused on internet security and other related topics my customers would find of interest. This serves the purpose of improving my search engine ranking for a wider range of keywords my target customers might search for, and adds life to the site. Over time, the blog posts can help me build authority by gaining back links from other respected sites whereas product pages might not.
I have never been a fan of twitter, preferring full length conversation to micro-bursts. However, I have learned that social sites such as twitter factor in to search engine rankings more than I previously thought. Additionally, monitoring twitter for potential customers, and maintaining an active account can help reach people in a more personal way. As a result, I plan to watch relevant twitter feeds, and make more use of twitter to reach customers and media. I’m not certain I will become an avid tweeter, but I will at least make the effort to be part of the conversation.
LinkedIn, as a professional site, already has numerous places to reach small business owners and other site owners. The best sections, groups and Q&A, offer immediate access to people looking for solutions. My goal isn’t just to insert marketing speak whenever a potential customer comes looking for a solution which my product happens to fit, but to proactively offer as much help as possible for free, via my own responses and links to my site blog posts and articles related to their problem. Additionally, this is a great way to get feedback from customers directly. If I think my product solves their problem, but they disagree, we already have dialog where I can extract more customer needs and requirements for future product pivots and iterations.
The jury is still out on Facebook. The latest I have heard is that Facebook users are less likely to purchase than other traffic sources, and that very few people use it for professional reasons. As a result, I do plan on creating a Facebook page, but I plan to focus more on the other sites listed here, where I believe customers will be more open to my message and more likely to be looking for answers to their problems.
Yahoo Answers and Other Q&A Communities
There are many other places around the internet where small business owners go for advice. I am currently active on a few of these, but plan to find a few more key places where people congregate to solve their problems. Even answering a couple of questions every week with an informative answer and a link to my site can help drive a few customers. Since I use a SAAS business model with recurring revenue, each customer lifetime value is high, so a few customers gained this way can pay off over the long term.
Other Social sites
There are many other sites which can be leveraged to help get the word out. Like my startup strategy, they key is making sure everything I do or submit is relevant to the readers. I don’t have time personally to participate fully in every community, but providing strong value can often overcome that inertia. The SEOmoz Social site guide is a good list of sites. I plan on leveraging a number of them to improve community participation, build back links, and submit articles from my site where they apply to the base.
I am not a social media maven by any means, and this post only represents what I have been able to learn recently. I conclude that social media marketing is a key marketing channel, both to build back links, reach media, and reach customers. I would love those of you more experienced in social media to offer other ideas, corrections, or key strategy areas I missed.