One type of online or app-based marketing and promotion that may or may not be practical for your home-based business is what are known as “location services,” a catchall term for several different types of mobile device apps that use the geographical location of the device to identify businesses nearby, typically grouped by category. For most home businesses, these kinds of apps are not entirely relevant, but we feel you should have a passing familiarity with at least some of them.
Yelp! is a website and complementary smartphone app that functions as a combination local directory and user review site. Not only does it let users find businesses by ZIP code or by using the location of the mobile device, it also lets users add reviews. Yelp! also lets users check in at locations, tell friends where they are, and add comments. Perhaps most helpful for finding restaurants, bars, drug stores, gas stations, and other such places when traveling, it can also function as the Yellow Pages once did. AroundMe is another app that works in a similar way (actually AroundMe was the first app to use Google’s location-aware API). There is also Google Maps of course, which, if you zoom in close enough, shows local businesses. Again, unless you have a retail location, that may not be entirely relevant.
Foursquare is another app that determines the user’s geographic location and suggests nearby businesses. Users can upload reviews or tips concerning that business. Foursquare used to have a “check-in” feature, but spun that off into a separate app called Swarm. (Facebook has a similar feature.) Some businesses have run Foursquare-centric promotions, and the company offers various options for businesses. Truthfully, through, most individuals and businesses stick to Facebook these days, for better or worse.
If you are a service-based business—like a writer, designer, photographer, etc.—and don’t have a physical location (or at least not one that you want people showing up at) you can still be listed on these services. If you search “freelance designer” on Yelp!, for example, you will get listings (and reviews). So these kinds of location service apps may not be entirely irrelevant.
For the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at social media for the home-based business, concentrating on the Big Three (for now): Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
There are other social media channels, such as Pinterest, a site where you share content that interests you in some way, and Instagram, a photo- and video-sharing site/smartphone app (owned by Facebook). Then there is SnapChat, and new sites are emerging all the time.
It is impossible to be active on all of them at the same time and still have time to do productive work, but picking the top two or maybe three social media platforms is the better strategy. The key is to pick those social media channels that are likely to reach your intended target audience. It may be LinkedIn, it may be Facebook—or it may not be any online social media at all.
Over the last few posts, we have been looking at how to take advantage of social media for marketing and promoting your home-based business. One last type of social media that should not be overlooked is online video, whether it be on YouTube or on your own site. This may sound overly ambitious and complicated, but today’s consumer videocameras and related software have made it cheaper and easier than ever to record and post video. Some ideas for what to record and post:
- Commentary on topics of interest in your industry, à la a blog or podcast. If you are an accountant, perhaps you could provide a short discussion on changes in tax laws.
- Step-by-step instruction on some activity in your field of business. If you are a personal trainer, perhaps you can demonstrate a particular exercise. If you teach software training, you can show how to perform a task in a given application.
- A public presentation. If you are speaking in front of a group or at an event, take advantage of the opportunity by setting up your video camera (a tripod can be had for under $20 at Target) and recording and posting the presentation. You can also post audio only, if that is more convenient.
- An interview. Interview a colleague, or have a colleague interview you about a project you have worked on—or even on some current topic in your field of business.
- A clip of you giving your “elevator speech.”
Videos should not be long (three to five minutes is ideal, although public presentations will be longer), and they can be divided into several installments if necessary. Videos can be posted on your own website, on your blog, and on any and all of your other social media sites. You can also start your own channel on YouTube. There is a YouTube video that explains how to set up a YouTube channel.
Granted, not everyone is comfortable appearing on video, but like anything it just takes a bit of practice.
Last week, we started looking at how to use LinkedIn for promoting your business and virtual networking. LinkedIn offers many resources, and new ones are appearing all the time.
Dr. Joe really enjoys the weekly LinkedIn podcast “The Missing Link.” Rainmaker.fm has many other podcasts that are appropriate for home offices. LinkedIn also now owns Slideshare—where you can post slide decks from presentations—and the two services are very well integrated. One way of taking advantage of this is by turning blogposts into Slideshare shows or minipresentations. In fact, Dr. Joe has created the first of a series of presentations offering home office, this one on the home office deduction.
Your elevator speech can also serve as the basis for a short minipresentation that can be posted on Slideshare.
There are a tremendous number of ways of taking advantage of LinkedIn. If you have read the Greatest Strengths report and taken the evaluation, your results can be linked to your LinkedIn page, so visitors can get a sense of what it’s like to work with you.
There are many good LinkedIn resources. For example, Wayne Breitbarth has many free resources, including several ebooks. Using his methods you can get the most out of LinkedIn using just the free service.