Even a few years ago, standard advice from a web designer online marketing team would be to start a blog and RSS feed on your website, and to populate both with company or industry news as often as possible. After all, what better way to keep people informed and build your own content profile at the same time then by giving them a constant taste of what's going on the world?
That makes sense, until you fast-forward a handful of years and find that everyone's doing it.
In fact, with the sheer number of news sites out there, RSS feeds available, and even real-time search engine updates, the problem isn't that people are having any trouble finding what's going on, but that it's hard to sort through all the news and find information.
With that in mind, one easy way for you to set your website and business apart from all its competitors is by giving visitors what they really crave: insight and advice, rather than a steady stream of data. Unless your customers are living in a cave, they already know what's going on – what they want from you is a better sense of what new developments mean to them.
That means populating your site with columns, blog posts, and other updates that center on sound business advice. Don't just tell people what you saw, fill them in on what it means to them, what future implications could be, how they might profit from it in the future, and so on. Before long, you'll find that you won't have to seek visitors just through search engines and online newsletters, because they'll be telling each other about you and showing up on their own.
There were plenty of places for people to go and find news online, and they probably do the job better than your company could. But what no one can duplicate is your specific industry knowledge and insight, so keep that in mind and give your customers what it is they really want.
When social media marketing first arrived as a prime time way to find new business (which for most of us, was right around the time Facebook announced it had more than 400 million users and Twitter was gaining ground quickly), the immediate goals most companies had was to pick up new followers and steer them towards the company's website.
Should that still be the case?
Maybe. For a lot of businesses of all sizes, a Facebook fan page can actually be a more powerful sales tool than anything on their own site. We could throw a handful of metrics at you to explain our reasoning, but it really comes down to one simple thing: believability.
When potential customers visit your Facebook fan page, they see all kinds of great things about your business that were written by other people – in some cases, even people they know. Being able to put a face with those impressions is undeniable; they might not trust you, or "Jane from Dubuque," but you can bet they put faith in the opinions of their friends and family. Or, in the opinions of people who seem a lot like their friends and family, rather than strangers who have given anonymous testimonials.
The net effect is that the Facebook fan page can quickly become the ultimate word-of-mouth sales tool, even if customers stumble across it on their own. They'll still find all the basic facts about your business, including a link to your website, but it's all going to be reinforced by third-party opinions.
If you want to use a higher percentage of the traffic that comes your way on the Internet, consider expanding your company's Facebook fan page and steering people in that direction. It might seem a little counter intuitive to take them away from your website, but you might just be pulling them deeper into your strongest marketing asset.