I love the viral marketing possibilities of the internet. The fact that a great idea with little to no funding can get the exposure it deserves with a little hard work is one that I completely agree with.
As I'm nearing the end of finishing a few web projects, I can't help but wonder what the best ways of promoting them are.
I've learned a lot with this blog, mostly through trial and error.
Off internet promotion
First, I would have never thought to write a press release when I started my blog. And I think it's fun how many people I know in real life actually read my blog regularly. Just adding my blog address to my email signature and telling people about my blog has given me more traffic then I ever thought.
I've had a few blog giveaways to increase traffic but neither were super successful. Maybe it's the hassle of having to do a little extra work (like commenting on a post) but this is something I will only do when I have something really cool and worth a substantial amount of money to give away.
I also found that some social networking is worth the effort but easily get out of hand. (I literally set a timer or I get sucked in.) The key though is not to use social networking entirely for self promotion. Those people are annoying; who wants a one-sided friendship, online or off? So I selectively promote posts on social networking sites and the rest of the time work on being friends with people.
Twitter was slow to start as far as driving web traffic my way but the lack of time commitment it took made me stick it out. It's a nice way to passively keep in touch and forces me to think "clever and brief" which is something very helpful to have in the back of my mind when blogging. Have you noticed I talk a lot?
I did buy a web advertisment with the newspaper I work for. I can see from the stats that my profile gets a lot of views (over 1,000) but this has only translated to a few clicks to my website. Could it be that people don't quite understand what an online communications person does? Could it be the economy? Sure, but at least now when I mention to locals what I do, they are moderately familiar with the idea, and that's worth something. Even big companies have to remind people that they exist.
I still do Entrecard but I refuse to spend more then about five minutes a week on it. The traffic it does drive my way is random and brief but it's helped me find a few interesting blogs. I also love to browse Craigs List and other free online listings. Why not put my name in that directory? Or trade links with that other website I like?
Thinking of what search engines look for when I'm writing has taken some work. Links into my blog, links out of my blog, key words, it all helps people find me (and me find them). Asking myself "How can I make this something people are looking for?" is a little annoying but a lot of my traffic is search engine driven so it's worth it. It's not quite marketing to people but marketing to a search engine. Interesting concept.
So what I want to know from all you internet savy people is what has worked for you? How do you hear about cool things online? How do you promote any work that you're doing online? I'd love some new fun ideas that have worked for other people! I can get ideas I could try anywhere but I'd love some testimonials. Can I get a witness?