What do a Texan cook and mommy and a 5-year-old Nikki Minaj fan have in common? They know how to use internet power to take over the world.
Nearly fifteen years ago, if you wanted to market a product or service, you either had to depend on traditional word of mouth or burn a hole in your pocket over insanely priced advertising, marketing and PR services. Fast forward to 2012 and the world as we know it lies at the fingertips of those who know how to use the technological phenomenon called the World Wide Web.
It’s no secret that the internet is an absolute communication phenomenon for millions around the globe. With just a $40 monthly internet connection, all the consumers you could ever want to reach, all 2 billion+ of them, are right on the other end of the connection. That is, if you know how to steer the vehicle properly (i.e. Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond). But even if you’re really not sure what you’re doing online, you can still luck out, go viral and end up on Ellen (i.e. Sophia Grace).
With a quick and painless double-click of a desktop icon – you have access to 78.3% of the United States population, 58.3% of the European population and 60.1% of the Australian population. Although an internet connection doesn’t guarantee your business will be tomorrow’s internet phenomenon, a little imagination, a clever approach and some out-of-the-box thinking can help you create enough buzz in the online space to make even the bees jealous.
Offer Nonconforming Perspectives
I’ll tell you what always catches my eye online – “that guy/girl.” You know who I’m talking about – the person that always counters the opinions of others, but does so with such compelling arguments that even if you disagree, you admire the brain power behind the claims. In fact, you even end up “following” this person online just to see what other witty perspective he/she offers. Well, ladies, this needs to be you.
Using the online tools at your disposal – discussion boards, social media, forums, your website, news sites and whatever else – engage in conversation and when possible, always offer a fresh perspective that stands out amidst the crowd.
Though not an off-the-wall suggestion in its entirety, pitching is a must-have component to any buzz-making strategy. So what is pitching? Essentially, it’s a media relations technique used to get information in the hands of the higher powers that control the media landscape, without paying anything. Basically, you determine what news you have and where it would fit best in the media landscape, then “pitch” your story to a curator such as a reporter or a blogger, which is essentially offering them content that answers their needs while still promoting your company.
Though pitching can’t be classified as easy, it’s much easier to do nowadays because not only is everyone in the online space actively seeking content, but tools and services have been created that make pitching the media easier than the good old days. For example, HARO matches reporters looking for content with sources looking to share content, Technorati lets you identify and target the best blogs in your industry to pitch, Google Alerts lets you monitor your news coverage and Pitch Engine lets you create a pitch page that lives online so that reporters have easy, colorful access to all information including text, photos and video with the click of a hyperlink.
So what do you pitch? News, content and sources. For opportunistic pitching, identify the blogs and websites that you’d like to see your name in, become an expert on their content and determine how your product or service can fit into their content. Then find out exactly who is writing this content, establish an online relationship with them, and provide solutions that meet their content needs while still integrating your brand into the story. For reactive pitching, use HARO to find out what content is needed and by who, curate or tailor this content, and then pitch it.
Be the Star of Your Own Channel
Okay, this doesn’t mean make a video of you lip-syncing to Celine Dion when you own a housekeeping service. What it does mean is that you should make the most of video sharing like YouTube and Ustream. YouTube is free and it affords you 490 million unique visits per month. With Ustream, you can stream video live and users can interact as the video is occurring.
Video is the king of all content when it comes to creating buzz online. If you’re actively using social media like you should be and all of your channels of communication are connected (Facebook, Twitter, website, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) you’ll be more likely to show up in front of your target audience in the online space.
With that said, create a YouTube channel that positions you and your business as the authority and conversation leader in the industry. Are you a motivational speaker? Upload videos of speaking engagements, tips on overcoming anxiety when public speaking, strategies for effective public speaking, a response to recent news or research on public speaking, or upload videos of you critiquing famous leaders, etc. Ask yourself what your customers are looking for, and then provide the videos that answer their needs. Are you a beautician? Create videos that involve hair tips, show you working on clients, offer tips on wedding day make-up or start a weekly series where you critique the styles of celebs. Whatever your target audience is looking for online, be where they end up.
Capitalize on the Online Popularity Contest
Flashback to high school when befriending the varsity cheerleader was the most momentous achievement of your high school career (aside from that thing called graduation). Well, hate to say it but that same situation is occurring now. Take note of all those heavy-hitters, a.k.a. influencers, in the online space because ladies, you’re going to need to win them over. If you truly want to own the online conversation and create the most buzz, you need those “varsity cheerleaders” to help you win the popularity contest.
So, as a business owner, you need to identify which individuals are the heavy-hitters in your industry. Try influencer measurement tools such as Klout, Technorati, Kred and others to determine who makes the most sense for you to win over. Establish a relationship, like their page, share the content, comment – basically, “suck up.” Another strategy is offering incentives – and who doesn’t like free stuff? Identify the top 10 on your wish list of heavy-hitters and give them some free stuff to talk about on their online channels. Relationship management, coupled with freebie incentives, is a surefire way to create an honest amount of buzz.
In the online realm, nearly anyone with a strategic and inventive game plan can generate enough buzz to pave the way for a lucrative business. But through it all, you must remember to be four things: useful, relevant, original and bold. Because as the great Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” And you need to be the leader in the online space.