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Here are five digital trends to take advantage of – without denting your marketing budget.

Digital Digital - Digital

The trick to social media is not only about making the channels you choose relevant to your business audience, but also about the content you share. Updating Facebook status every time you make a cup of coffee or tweeting your every move is exhausting for everyone. In real life, nobody wants to know that your office dishwasher is playing up; the same is true in the social universe.

The rules of marketing still apply in the digital world; it’s far better to reach 50 people who want to buy what you have to offer, than 60 million who don’t care. So keep it relevant and focus on creating a following of true enthusiasts.  

The good news is you don’t need a social media manager (read: generation Y, post-university sociophobe) to make the right moves. But it is time for SMBs to get more digitally savvy. It’s not hard, you don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg and the rewards can be vast.

Here are a few simple digital trends to take advantage of and get your business on the grid:
 
1. Google Places: For businesses that don’t have a website (or a website that nobody can find), then Google Places is a must. Instantly, your business will be searchable and your customers will be able to find you. However there are some dos and don’ts. Do ensure your details are correct. If Google indexes you incorrectly, it will live online for some time and bad information is worse than no information. Do add photos – make your business as attractive as possible to potential customers. Browsing is far more likely to turn into buying if images are there to seal the deal. Do pick your category choices wisely, as these are the buzz words Google will use to classify you. Think about what potential customer are likely to type into Google.

2. YouTube: YouTube adds online excitement and stickiness for any business, not just pranksters and celebrities. Not only is it a free internet resource waiting for your content, it opens up a range of new and unique marketing opportunities. Set up your business-branded YouTube channel, and you can upload everything from straightforward interviews and demonstrations to whiteboard sessions and customer testimonials, that show different aspects of your business to potential customers and industry peers.

3. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is not just for social networking, it’s brilliant for professional networking, recruitment and sharing insight. Finding the next addition to your team can be costly when using recruitment agencies, but LinkedIn helps you find people like you. Groups also offer fertile ground for chatting to expert peers in the right forums and seeing who has something interesting to say.

4. Twitter: Twitter can be polarising, but the worst-case scenario is that you spend ten seconds tweeting, so give it a go. Follow relevant media outlets and competitors first, then tweet your news and offers. Keep it strictly business and the enlightened people who want to follow you will find you. Add Hashtags to become searchable to other tweeters. For example, if you are an insurance company, simply add #insurance at the end of your tweet, people who are searching for #insurance can find you, and you can reach them.

5. QR codes: Drive traffic to your business website with a QR (quick response) code. Smartphone users are fast becoming readers of QR codes on everything from wine to tickets, so why not add it to your business card and email signature to get the ball rolling? You can find a QR converter through Google, and become an instant technophile.

Dominic Monkhouse is the MD at PEER1, a global hosting firm.

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