How To Market Your Business Online – 2017 Edition

market your business online

It’s that time of year again people! My annual round-up of exactly how to promote and market your business online in 2017.

(This is the 3rd of these type of posts that I’ve written. If you’re curious, you can read the previous editions here. They contain a lot of insights that still apply today, even though the technology has moved on.)

As always, before we dive into the cutting edge of online marketing and what’s coming this year, there are some things from last year that you now must be doing (in some form) or you’re going to get left behind:

  • Video represents a huge opportunity for promoting yourself online. Last year I mentioned Facebook video ads to you. They were just the tip of massively profitable video iceberg that loomed into sight throughout 2016 (more on that in a moment). If you’re not doing some form of video content in your business, you’re losing out on a ton of potential reach and engagement that no other medium can give you.
  • It’s called social media… so maybe try being sociable? It amazes me how many people use social media for their business like it’s
    • A) a broadcast platform with no feedback mechanism (it isn’t) and…
    • B) in a way that is about as anti-social as you can be (not replying to comments, not thanking people for sharing their posts etc.)
  • Storytelling is the king and queen of great marketing – Use it. Seth Godin wrote a brilliant book back in 2015 called ‘All Marketers Are Liars‘. He replaced the words ‘Are Liars’ on the cover to make it say ‘All Marketers Tell Stories’ and it’s completely true. You have a chance to tell stories every day: Your story, your customers’ stories (testimonials) and even the story of where your products and services will take people. Humans love stories. Use them to educate and entertain wherever you can and you’ll build a solid online brand.
  • If you’re going to learn how to generate leads, make sure you know how you’re going to convert them into buyers and then evangelists. A surprising number of the business people I talk to have no idea how they’re going to turn their subscribers into cashflow. As a result, they build a huge list, and then find themselves high and dry with no revenue. Don’t be that guy or gal.

Right with those little rants out of the way, let’s crack on with…

How to Market Your Business Online – 2017 Edition

As well as showing you what’s working and what’s going to work this year, I’ve also finished each section with an ‘Action Point’ so that you can go and start applying this to your business straightaway.

Facebook Live and The Video Revolution

On 6th April 2016, Facebook founder Zuckerberg made this announcement:

As Zucks alluded to in his post, it signalled a major shift in how businesses and individuals could promote themselves online.

Essentially, you can now broadcast live video, like your own live TV show, directly onto the phones and desktops of your fans on Facebook.

For a while now, many people have been complaining about not getting enough reach on Facebook.

Reach is simply the number of people to whom your post gets shown, and for fan page owners, that reach has been dropping over the past few years.

In fact, you can find out just how few of your Facebook fans are seeing your posts with this tool from Agorapulse. I’ll warn you now, it’s pretty depressing for most pages.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

With Facebook Live, you can reach a much larger percentage of your audience and engage with them in real time.

And when I say a much larger percentage, let me give you an example from a client of mine, Shaa Wasmund MBE…

Check out this screenshot from Shaa’s Facebook page Insights for the last few days:

Facebook Live for Business

Shaa Wasmund routinely reaches hundreds of thousands of people with FB Live.

That post that I’ve pointed to is a Facebook Live post and it reached 212,000 people! That’s insane!

What’s even more insane is that Shaa only has around 16,000 fans on Facebook. Sure, her page isn’t small, but it’s tiny compared to the number of people she’s reaching.


Well, Facebook is pushing its new Live streaming platform like it’s going out of fashion.

It’s pushing it into everyone’s feeds on Facebook and people are sharing the videos because they provide value to the viewers. In fact, just like on YouTube, people can subscribe to your page’s Live notifications, so they get a message whenever you go Live.

On a bigger level, Facebook is clearly gunning for YouTube and trying to take over as the world’s largest video platform, so by providing Facebook with content, you’re helping them achieve that.

In return, Facebook will give you massive reach.

Action point: Go Live. You won’t regret it and you can only really learn and improve your marketing by doing it.

Pro Tip: Get yourself a stand (or two) for your phone to sit on, so that you don’t have to hold it for ages.

  • I use this one if I’m sitting at my desk
  • And this one if I’m standing up (how I record most of my Lives as I’m more ‘energised’)

Instagram Goes Live Too

Live Broadcasts Instagram

In the last year, Instagram has been loving video more and more.

It’s little wonder really, when you consider that Facebook bought Instagram to corner the photo-sharing market back in 2012.

If there’s anything that works on Facebook that could also work on Insta, you can be sure that the Facebook team will roll it out.

Right at the end of 2016, Facebook did that with its live streaming platform, developing the new Instagram Live.

It’s early days, so I’ve yet to see anyone really master this, but it’s only a matter of time before lots of businesses start to use it.

As a guide for you, Instagram is typically about shorter form content, so maybe think of some ways to engage your audience for some short live sessions on topics that will give them insights and education on how to get results in your market.

Personally, I’m planning to stream my Facebook Live sessions on Instagram too. For that I’ll need another phone, but it’s a way of taking one piece of content and making it go further to reach more people.

Action point: Get streaming! If you decide to do a Facebook Live (and hopefully you have already made that decision) then go ahead and stream it onto Instagram Live too.

Pro Tip: Make sure that you’re in a well-lit, relatively quiet space to do any Live video content, especially Lives on either Facebook or Instagram.


Social Media Stories

Facebook has stolen the Stories idea from Snapchat? Is this the end for the little white ghost?

Remember how I said earlier that ‘All Marketers Tell Stories’ (to quote Seth Godin’s book title)?

Well, storytelling is now at the forefront of social media.

Snapchat introduced them, then Facebook stole that idea and rolled it out to Instagram. There’s talk of Facebook rolling out a form of Stories to Facebook profiles too.

Regardless of all that social skullduggery, this is your chance to share your story…

But here’s the thing:

Most people get bothered by this idea because they want to put out perfect (or incredibly high-quality) content all the time. As a result, they get paralysed and don’t create anywhere near enough content because they can’t keep it up at that level.

The solution was shown to me by Gary Vaynerchuk in one of his recent videos: Document, don’t create.

Tell your story or the story of your clients and focus on documenting the journey, not creating perfect videos with impeccable lighting and sound every time.

If you’re a writer and don’t like video, fine, but you’re going to have to step up and maybe change your content to be engaging with your audience more often.

Action point: Choose a platform and dedicate a little time each day to documenting your journey. Be sure to publicise what you’re doing in any and every way you can and you’ll build up a following. You can then translate that following into a Facebook Group, email subscriber base or Facebook Messenger subscriber base.

Facebook Messenger

Oooh this is going to be a biggie this year, I can feel it.

Have you noticed how Facebook’s Messenger product is turning into a combination of an email inbox on the desktop version and a messenger app on your phone?

Well, Facebook have opened up their API (application programming interface) which means that programmers can now create marketing tools that use Messenger.

An example is the unbelievably good ManyChat.

Messenger Bot

The Messenger bots are taking over… And represent a massive chance for your business.

You can now create a bot (short for ‘robot’) that will not only answer your messages with pre-programmed answers, but it will also identify words that people are using in their messages and respond ‘intelligently’. :O

Mind. Blown.

This shouldn’t be a replacement for the humans running your page and interacting with people naturally. It should simply enhance the experience for users.

Just think about this for a second…

Email open rates are generally dropping for everyone.

According to Smart Insights, across all industries in the UK, the average email open rate is 24.79% (down slightly from 24.88% in 2016).

Click-through rates are at just 4.19%. Not great.

The reason is clear. Marketers like me have ruined email.

Well, actually, spammers and bad marketers have ruined email mostly, but good marketers have contributed by trying to find more and more ways to reach our audience (come on, it’s our job).

But what if there was a new form of communication that reached people on their phones, got incredible open rates, great click-through rates and actually helped the people that it served?

That’s what the combination of Facebook Messenger and a bot platform like ManyChat can do.

You might be thinking: ‘What kind of open rates are we talking, baldy?’

I’m really glad you asked:

Facebook Messenger Bot

Crazy good open rates can be had from Manychat. These are from my last two broadcasts.

Excited yet? 😉

One very important point: This is neither a replacement for email or something that should be used in the same way as email is used.

This is a new form of marketing communication.

Sure, you can draw on some of the copywriting skills you learned from email marketing and make your Messenger comms more engaging…

But you should not just blast crap out to people. In fact, the Messenger API has rules and is built in such a way that you can’t just send spam to people.

Action point: Again, this is new tech, so start playing with it and seeing how you can use it to create a great experience for your subscribers.

Market Your Business The Right Way On Social Platforms

If you’re planning to market your business online, then you need to be paying close attention to what those platforms are doing.

Facebook Live is a great example…

When a platform like Facebook rolls out live streaming, that should tell you that they’re going to give that element the most exposure.

It’s obvious right?

If you had a new product, you’d do everything you could to promote it to the largest number of people. Facebook is doing the exact same thing.

As a result, all the other tactics will get less reach and engagement because Facebook is pushing Live.

If you pay attention to your Page Insights, then you’ll have seen the trend towards video and then towards Facebook Live. If you don’t pay attention, you missed it until everyone was doing it.

Assuming you saw the trend, you now have two options:

  • Moan about it and protest at the fact that your written posts aren’t getting the same reach (most people choose this option)
  • Get in early and start using the new tool, getting way more reach and engagement because your actions are essentially being backed up by the platform itself.

Tough call, huh?

The thing is, this is just one example of a multitude of things happening on your social platforms.

Pay attention to what’s working and use each platform as its own little eco-system.

For example, don’t share a YouTube video to Facebook. Get the original video and upload it into Facebook.

That way, people stay on Facebook to consume the content, Facebook is happy because you’re not sending people away to YouTube, and the video autoplays in the Facebook feed, getting more views than if you’d shared the YouTube video on there.

Everyone’s a winner if you play their game.

Action point: All you have to do is pay attention to how they’re changing and adapting, then adapt your marketing to their changes. It’s actually fun to do as it will always keep your marketing fresh.

But Matt, you haven’t really mentioned LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube…

social media sites

But what about LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube?

Yeah, weird isn’t it?

It’s almost like all the exciting leverage and opportunities aren’t on those platforms… 😉

Actually that’s a little unfair to YouTube. The Tube of You is still a great place to build a huge following, share your insights and stories and generally do good content and marketing.

LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft last year for $26.2 billion, but I’m yet to see significant changes to the platform that make me think it’s worth you spending your time there.

They could create an incredible ad platform, but so far, they haven’t got anywhere close to the insights that Facebook can give us. That’s not to say that the ads don’t work, they’re just not anywhere near as good as Facebook’s.

One thing I will say is that, if you appeal to business owners or corporates, publish all your content from your blog to LinkedIn Pulse too.

And then there’s Twitter…

It basically hasn’t updated its platform or ad product all that much in recent years. As a result of not innovating massively, it’s getting left behind.

It’s still an incredible place for connecting with influencers and journalists to get PR. It has a Live element now that they’ve essentially borrowed from their own platform Periscope as a separate offering and integrated it into Twitter.

But again, in this world where you have limited time (and maybe limited cash) to spend on marketing, you’d be better spending it on Facebook.

Other Interesting Tools That Build Brands, Generate Leads and Make Sales

  • Facebook Groups: These have been underestimated for a long time, but I’ve seen first-hand how a thriving group can work to create great businesses. If you want to build a community, Facebook is the place to do it and Facebook Groups are the vehicle.
  • Podcasting: It’s not new by any means, but podcasting is huge and there’s a ton of opportunity for you if you’re good at either presenting your point-of-view or interviewing people. As always, keep it consistent and you’ll reap the rewards.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you made it this far, you’re awesome and probably deserve some kind of award. You should now have a clear idea of how to market your business online this year.

Got a question? Want to take me to task on something I’ve said? Love me and want to have my babies? Whatever you have to say, simply drop a comment in the comments section below and I’ll reply as soon as I can. 

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About the Author

Matt Duggan is the founder of and the director of digital marketing agency RoarLocal. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and loves helping small businesses to grow thanks to social media advertising.

He’s also a hardcore chocolate addict, but is working on this.

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