11 Essential Tips for a Fantastic Facebook Page

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Are you not seeing the engagement you’d like to on your Facebook page? Well, we have 11 tips to share with you that just might inspire you to try something new!

1. Stay on topic. Your company sells specific products and services. So when people find you on Facebook, they want to find out more about your current inventory, sales that you’re running, and any other pertinent company information. And that’s exactly what you should give them. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t write about silly things every once in a while or share other sites’ content (in fact, you should be doing these things as long as they align with your brand’s voice and image, because people like lighthearted things), but be sure that most updates capture/portray the essence of your company in a professional manner.

2. Upload photos and videos. Videos actually have a larger reach than photos right now, but only if they’re shared natively. (That is, uploaded to Facebook or shared from someone else’s page who has uploaded that video–not posted from YouTube or another video sharing site.) So obviously, whenever possible, it’s good to share a video. But what are you supposed to do if you don’t have any videos? Well, at the very least, include a photo with your update. Visual media, whether video or photo, is much more effective in reaching your audience than posting a simple text update. People are visual, and their eyes immediately go to colorful or interesting pictures. So make use of that!

3. Do not respond to things unprofessionally. There’s a time and a place getting irritated with people and it’s not when you’re on Facebook–especially if you run a business. If someone leaves a nasty comment, don’t panic. Try to determine the root of the issue–is it a customer who is angry because of poor service? You can try to politely offer a deal to make up for it. Is it someone who just wants to vent? Apologize for poor service and move on. Is it someone who is deliberately being abusive? Well, don’t vent back. Instead, let’s move on to number four to solve this one…

4. Don’t ignore trolls. But don’t feed them either. If they’re disruptive and being mean or callous to others, block them. Create a space your fans feel comfortable in. This is far more important than picking fights or letting your Facebook comments go completely uncontrolled. People don’t like hostile spaces, so moderate those comments and avoid that negativity altogether.

5. Share your company news with them. People love celebrating milestones with you and getting a peek at how things work within your company. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established company with lots of history, make it a point to include your customers in celebrating your milestones and you’ll see that you can build a more meaningful connection with them.

6. Do weekly events. People love participating in events, particularly if it involves a silly game. Things like “fill in the blank” or “caption this photo” work well (although with these, you’ll always have those unsavory comments to deal with), and some people enjoy it when you pose questions that they can answer (for example, if you shared a picture of your new product and asked people how they would use it). You can also have fans participate for a chance at being featured on your site, or you could have them leave promotional links of their own to foster sharing. There are tons of possibilities!

7. Offer giveaways. Sometimes people just want to win free things. Okay, a lot of times people just want to win free things. 😉 So when it fits into your budget, come up with a way to give your Facebook fans the chance to win something great. It keeps them coming back for more!

8. Post blog updates on Facebook. While it’s a good idea to set up your blog posts so that they’re automatically sent to your social media sites, you should always stagger the distribution. Why? Because when you send out one blog post and it hits Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and everywhere else at the same time, you’re not maximizing your reach. So when you set up your blog’s auto-posting features, just keep in mind that you might want to discover which times your social media fans are the most active, and schedule accordingly!

9. Trade likes–Don’t buy them. Some people buy “likes” so that their Facebook pages appear to be more popular than they really are. But when you really think about it, what good does this do you? You spend money to have fake fans interact with your page once and never return. You’d get more return on your investment if you took the time to cultivate a real community–even if it takes longer for your numbers to grow. One tactic that you might want to try is trading “likes”. Send out a message every once in a while asking to this. Or you could like someone else’s page and just drop them a note telling them you did so, and leave a link to your page in case they’re interested. Don’t be pushy about it–and if someone doesn’t return the like, that’s okay. You won’t always be successful in this tactic, but it can be a great way to meet some new fans!

10. Link to social media profiles. It sounds obvious, but there are too many people who forget to do this. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, then be sure to cross-link to those sites. For example, on Facebook, you should link not only to your website, but also to Twitter and LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, link to Facebook and Twitter. And so on. Sometimes people stumble upon your social media sites before your website, so it’s best to make sure that no matter where they land, they can connect with you anywhere on the web!

11. Experiment with advertising. Today, it’s almost essential that you advertise to get your Facebook page noticed. Because Facebook’s algorithm tends to favor posts with more engagement (and sponsored posts, of course), people often start paying to promote posts or ads in hopes that people will like them and click through to learn more. And that can be rough for smaller businesses that don’t have a lot of money for this kind of thing. But the good news is that you can actually set a budget as low as $5 a day to run ads, and you don’t have to run the ad every day. You could actually set aside a small budget of $100 a month and see improvements in your post engagement and clickthroughs to your site. It’s definitely worth experimenting with it!

Do you have any other tips for getting more out of your Facebook marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!


Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

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5 Ways to Reach More Fans on Facebook

5-ways-to-reach-more-fans-on-facebook

Are your Facebook marketing strategies falling a little flat? Have you noticed that your pictures and quotes don’t seem to be reaching quite as many people as they used to? If so, you might want to re-evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy… and we’re here to give you a few helpful tips that yuo can start implementing right away.

Facebook is notorious for changing its algorithms, and people often don’t understand exactly why or how it’s changed–all they know is they’re seeing less engagement and fewer numbers for people reached. It’s frustrating and it’s time-consuming to try to alter your strategies, especially when you always seem to be a step behind because you’re not a professional marketer–you’re a small business owner, and you’re busy.

But if there’s one thing marketers can tell you, it’s that times change fast. Especially when it comes to social media. So how can you boost your engagement and reach more fans on Facebook right now? We have a few suggestions for you.

Video

Up until fairly recently, the tried-and-true way to reach the most people on Facebook was to post a picture and a link. You may have noticed, however, that this seems to have changed. In fact, photos are now one of the least effective ways to make sure fans see your content.

So what do you do instead? Well, video reaches more people than any other kind of post–but not just any video. The format has to be native, meaning you must actually upload the video to Facebook. Why is this? More than likely, Facebook is trying to keep you sharing videos using Facebook–not some other site. So even if you have a YouTube channel, it’s worth it to upload the videos separately to Facebook to get the most eyes on your content.

Quotes with photos

Although photos don’t have the reach they used to, people love sharing inspiring and motivating quotes. By placing the quote on an eye-catching image, you make it far more likely that someone will press “share”. So while the initial post might not reach as many people as, say, a video, if you get more engagement, you’ll get more shares and a bigger reach in the end.

Another thing about photos is that they have the potential to live on for quite some time. Because of the way the Facebook algorithm works, someone might not see your post right away, but it could pop up in their feed the next day. When they share it then, you’ll notice a spike in shares as their friends share it, and so on.

Don’t forget your CTA button

If you haven’t noticed the call-to-action button on Facebook yet, then you definitely need to take the time to check it out. It’s a new feature, but it’s a powerful one: By going into your settings, you can choose a call to action from a pre-set list (for example, “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, etc.) and direct people to the URL of your choice. Do you want to send them to a sales page? A landing page where they can sign up for a newsletter or free ebook? You can do any of that using this button.

The best part is that it appears right on your header image–it’s not hidden in some dark corner of your profile. After you have it set up, you can track clicks and change the CTA whenever you like. That way, if you find that it’s not working quite the way you had expected it to, all you have to do is change things around with a few clicks and you’re done.

Oh, and did we mention this is free? Because it is. There’s no reason NOT to use it.

Get used to reading negative feedback

It hurts us all. No one wants to go through their hard work and read bad things about themselves. Whether it’s your high school paper that your English teacher tore apart or your brand new website that cost you a pretty penny to develop, you’re going to get negative feedback on your projects, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.

Now, that isn’t to say that every random complaint needs to be listened to or taken into consideration when you are planning your improvements. Some people just enjoy complaining about things no matter what. But if you notice some common themes–for example, people consistently unliking your Facebook page when you post irrelevant photos, or negative feedback on overly “salesy” posts–then you probably want to take those complaints into legitimate consideration as you plan your social media strategy.

When you listen to your fans like this, you not only give your audience what they really want, but you also grow as a businessperson. Constructive criticism might be hard to take, but if you can thicken your skin, you’re going to go a long way.

Don’t be afraid to change things up

If your marketing efforts are still falling flat, then don’t be afraid to change things up a bit! You can always do split A/B testing to see which campaigns perform better and adjust accordingly. Look at successful people in your industry and see how they garner engagement. There’s no rulebook here and there is no one magic trick that will work for everybody. But you’ll never know what works for you unless you try. So get creative, think outside the box, and change things up a bit until you come up with something that really makes your fans excited to interact with your business.

Are there any other tricks or tips that you use to get your fans more engaged on Facebook? If so, let us know in the comments!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

Facebook to Introduce 360 Degree Videos

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This Wednesday, Facebook announced that its News Feed will begin to support 36o-degree videos: you’ll be able to move your view up, down, left, and right to take a peek at your surroundings from all different directions. Currently, they are testing the technology, and they describe it as a “new kind of online video” that will allow viewers to move through it not unlike they way they would a video game.

Putting the Oculus Rift Technology to Use

Last year, Facebook acquired the creator of the Oculus Rift–a headset that was originally built for virtual reality (VR) games. Microsoft and Google have tinkered with this technology by building prototypes of their own: Microsoft with a HoloLens headset, and of course the most popular of the bunch, Google Glass eyewear (which hasn’t died yet, contrary to what people think).

Clearly, Facebook understands that the future of the internet and user experience will rely heavily on video, as well as virtual reality. Technologies will integrate with our everyday activities and “augment”, or enhance, the way we interact with technology and apply it to our lives.

An explosive new technology

Facebook has said that more than 1.3 billion people that utilize its platform view more than 3 billion videos every day. And that’s just on its platform–that doesn’t take into account videos watched on YouTube, Vimeo, Google, or any other platforms. Nope. That’s just. Facebook.

So Facebook hopes to introduce its users to using this kind of VR video. And this week during the keynote address at the company’s annual developer conference held in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company is already looking into asking third-party publishers to create their own videos to share via Facebook.

How the videos will work

Spherical cameras will capture video in 360 degrees–think of it sort of like Google’s “street view” cameras. You’ll be able to virtually locate a point on a map and look around you by dragging your mouse around, or if you have a touchscreen, you can also do this by moving your finger across the screen.

Zuckerberg stressed how much like virtual reality this really was: “You’re going to be able to put on your headset and feel like you’re really there,” he said.

Why You Need to Be Using Social Media for Customer Service

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The way you choose to interact with your customers online can really set the tone for your business. If you’re responsive, engaging, and present a positive image for your company, people are more likely to interact with you and spread the word.

On the other hand, if you’re quick to pick fights with customers who complain or you’re not willing to listen to constructive criticism, you might find yourself in hot water faster than you ever thought possible–social media lets information travel far faster than word of mouth alone, and the effects last a long time. It’s really difficult to clean up a tarnished image in the digital age!

This is why your social media platforms need to be regularly maintained and easily accessible to your customers. Let them feel comfortable reaching out to you via social media. When you do communicate with your customers, be polite and understanding. Providing great customer service should be your #1 priority on social media–just as it should be elsewhere.

Companies that rock customer service via social media: JetBlue and Seamless

If you need a little bit of guidance in getting started, check out the customer service that JetBlue provides over Twitter. They engage with their customers in a timely and positive manner. And the don’t just interact with the customers who are happy–instead, they take the time to find the people who are talking about their company negatively, and they do their best to remedy the situation. That’s going above and beyond for their customers, and it has netted the airline a great reputation for customer service.

Seamless, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach: They’re available 24 hours a day to help you with any troubles you might have, from a late order to a technical glitch on their website. No matter what problem you’re facing, you can tweet Seamless and they’ll get someone to help you ASAP.

How can you emulate JetBlue’s practice as a small business?

First monitor social media channels for mention of your brand’s name. When you see people talking about you, make sure you engage with them: If they’re saying something positive, retweet them or “like” their post. Leave an encouraging comment thanking them for taking the time to share their thoughts. If they’re saying something negative, put on your best happy face and try to find out why they’re disappointed. If you can remedy the situation, others will see that you care–and they’ll be more likely to remember you positively!

How can you emulate Seamless’s approach as a small business?

Obviously most small businesses can’t have someone there to help customers 24 hours a day. But what you can do is make sure that a dedicated team has access to the social media accounts. Does your webmaster run the technical side of things while you man the helm? Make sure he or she can deliver timely news to you about any website errors or downtime; or, alternatively, allow him or her to have access to the accounts to let customers and fans know for you. Make sure you respond to questions as soon as you have the chance, and your customers will thank you for it. (Customers expect a fairly fast response time–the average Twitter response time is 5.1 hours, with 10% of companies answering within an hour, and 93% of companies answering within 48 hours.)

Run a medium-sized company? Take cues from Nike and Blizzard Entertainment.

If you get fairly high traffic on your company website or on your social media pages, you might want to try creating a separate handle for your customer service. You can see how Nike does it here–look at the number of tweets that have come from that account! However, with a team dedicated to providing customer service managing this account, you can bet that anyone who needs help can get it faster than if they were to call. It’s also a great option for your customers who can’t speak and/or hear–there are TTY phones that Deaf and hard-of-hearing customers can use, but many would prefer to bypass that and use social media.

Blizzard Entertainment also takes this approach. Whenever servers are down, a website glitch pops up, or a game is getting a new patch, @BlizzardCS tweets about it. Players can also tweet at this account to report bugs or to let the team know of server issues. people have even reported in-game harassment here. By providing an account separate from their main game accounts, they’ve created a dedicated space to better assist customers without any game promotions or advertisements between tweets.

How can you make a dedicated customer service account work for you?

If you have the budget and resources to pull this off, go ahead and make a separate account. Hire a dedicated team to manage the account, and make sure they’re trained with customer service and dispute management. Make sure that they understand your company’s voice and your brand image. Finally, put a fail-safe in place: Allow them to direct the customers to a phone or a separate email if the situation is too complicated to deal with via text.

Tips for Excelling at Customer Service via Social Media

  • Have a priority list. Respond to things like technical issues or direct complaints first, and general comments (complaints or praise) last.
  • Set a goal for a response time–and track your success rate.
  • Are there questions you get more often than others? If so, you might want to consider an FAQ page on your website or putting together a guide covering the basics of your products and services.
  • Consider where your customers are. Most of our examples are from Twitter, but if most of your customers are on Facebook, implement your customer service strategy there.
  • Know when to take your issues away from social media. As mentioned above, there always needs to be a fail-safe. Not all customers can be appeased via social media. Make sure there’s a way for them to contact you with the method they prefer.
  • Monitor conversations about your brand and try to reply and remedy any complaints, even if they’re not directly tweeted/messaged to you.
  • Finally, keep your cool under all circumstances. Never, EVER respond when you’re angry. Step away from the computer if you’re about to tweet something angry. Even if this slows down your response time, it’s better to reply when you’re able to do so professionally–in a way that won’t damage your brand.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

5 Social Media Strategies to Break Through the Noise

It’s not easy trying to get your voice heard these days. You take to social media to amplify your reach. You write blog posts to entice your audience to come back for more. It seems like no matter what you do, there’s always something else you could be doing, and you only have so much time in your day.

So what if you could make your social media posts more effective without spending any extra time on them? What if you simply changed up your strategy a bit to allow room for some experimentation?

We’re betting that if you do this, you’ll be able to improve your engagement and get your voice heard.

So where do you start?

Regular Content Scheduling

scheduling
Whether you use something like Evernote or you still schedule by hand, it’s important to keep track of your goals!

First, if you aren’t already, make a regular schedule to update your social media. Whether you want to update a few times a week or multiple times a day, it’s important to remember that consistency is key. As you’re making your schedule, ask yourself:

  • Is this realistic? Will I be able to stick to this schedule?
  • Do I need help coming up with ideas or content? If so, can I afford to hire some help?
  • Will I be able to interact with customers or fans who respond to my posts? Do I need assistance with this?
  • In the event of a negative response to one of my posts, do I know how to handle it? Can I keep my cool?

If you think that you might need some help, set aside some money to do so. If you aren’t sure of how to respond to negative comments, you might want to look into an assistant who can do that for you. All in all, your schedule must be realistic, and if you find that you need some assistance, budget that into your social media strategy.

Some apps to help you keep your schedule in order:

Apps to Help You Automate

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Yep, automation means robots from the ’60s will do your work for you.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with scheduling updates? Well, what if we told you that you don’t have to do every update manually? It’s true! There are plenty of applications on the market to help you get your posts out there.

Making your voice heard is already difficult. Being able to work on other projects while your social media is being managed is a great way to keep productive and still build your social media following–and it makes things a bit easier on the schedule (and budget) too.

Check out these resources to help automate your social media posts:

These vary in budget and in platform support–that is, some of the apps support only certain platforms, while others might support more. You’ll have to do research to see what works for you. But the best part of getting to know one of these automation apps is that once you start using them, you can reach your audience at the time of your choice. Do you want to schedule updates at 3 am to reach an overseas audience? You can do that. Do you want to have an update go out every morning at 10:00? You can do that, too. This is essential in expanding the reach of your posts. And, bonus–it’ll help you stick to that schedule mentioned above!

Studying Competition

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Studying your competition can be just as exhausting as cramming for an exam. But hey, it gets results.

How do you study your competition in sports? You research the team. You find out who the strong players are; you discover the weaknesses and exploit them. So it makes sense then, that when you’re marketing, you have a strategy in place so that you can outpace your competition.

For example, on Twitter, you can make a private list and add your competition to it. This way, they don’t know that you’re watching them, and you can see all their tweets in a special place so that unwanted tweets don’t clutter your screen. Pay special attention to what they tweet about that works so well. Which tweets get the most RTs? Which are not as successful?

On Facebook, try taking a peek at your competitors’ profiles and take note of the number of “likes” and “shares” on their posts. Do people seem to respond well? Which have positive comments and interactions? Which are ignored? Are there any that are not received well at all? These sorts of things are important.

Now, you’re not going to be able to replicate your competition’s results, obviously. But by doing just a bit of studying, you can spot trends that are easy to follow, and you can create that experience for your followers. You can also see what doesn’t work–specific topics, language, and photos simply do not do well on social media. Identify these things and steer clear of using them in your strategy!

Interacting with Industry Leaders

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Following reputable sources in your industry isn’t enough. You have to engage with them!

This ties in with the above tip. Once you’ve identified your competition, you’re going to notice that certain companies are experiencing a lot more success than others. These are the people you want to interact with.

Now, it might sound counter-intuitive, but social media is a different game than your typical smear campaigns of the past. Connecting with industry leaders is a great way to get your voice heard. For example, imagine your company is selling personalized clothing for babies. You might want to find influential blogs dealing with parenthood, kids’ fashion, or even money-saving blogs for parents. Offer a free product in exchange for an honest review. Or you could offer to do a guest post informing the blog’s audience of the benefits of products like yours. You won’t be able to get your foot in the door unless you network with experts, so make sure you get to know people before asking for favors. If you do it right, you’ll get a lot of free press!

Honing In On Your Audience

target-audience
Finding your target audience is important. If you’re not getting results, maybe you need to reexamine your target demographic.

If you’ve tried all the above things and you’re still drowning in all the marketing noise, you might want to reexamine your audience.

Maybe you’re approaching things too broadly. For example, are you targeting “mothers” or “mothers who want to save money while working from home”? Are you targeting “pet owners” or “pet owners who want to feed their pets environmentally-friendly foods”? You can see the difference. By trying to appeal to too broad an audience, you might be shouting into a crowd, and no one is really hearing your voice. If you figure out which segment you really appeal to, you grab your audience’s attention more easily.

Alternatively, maybe you’re simply appealing to the wrong audience altogether. Maybe you originally started off blogging about personalized baby clothes, but now you’ve moved into tips on dressing your kids for less. Perhaps you need to shift your focus and rebrand your blog so that people know what you’re all about in the here and now–not what you were about two years ago.

 

So there you have it! These social media strategies should help you break through the noise out there. And we understand–there is a lot of it. As the internet becomes more sophisticated and more people bring their brands online, you’re only going to have more competition. By staying up-to-date and being willing to try new things, you can grow your audience and bring more customers to the table.

Good luck and happy marketing!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Marketing in the Digital Age vs Traditional Marketing

Ah, marketing. It’s always been a confusing process. Learning how and when and where to spend your money, learning what your audience responds to and what repels them–it’s all complicated stuff once you really get down to it. And in the past, trying to reach newspapers, television stations, and writing old-fashioned press releases was time-consuming and difficult, making the entire concept seem impossible for many small businesses.

Nowadays, we keep hearing about how much easier it is to do marketing–you can do it from home because it’s all online. So you research how to write a press release online. You wonder if you could write an interesting blog. You hear about how people interview for jobs over Skype. But are these really just as effective as the marketing techniques of the past?

Let’s compare the modern equivalents of some of the older marketing strategies. You might find that they’re easier to understand than you thought–and that they’re much more approachable than they appear to be.

*Note: Of course the “old” methods can still be effective for certain industries and in smaller towns. However, we’re focusing on highlighting the differences between the traditional and the modern so that readers can appreciate the benefits of modern online marketing.

Old Way: Newspapers.

old-newspaper-ad
All the Planet of the Apes toys you could want.

Original image from PlaidStallions.com

Before, people used to pay to take out a spot in the classifieds. Depending on how much room you needed, the price could be pretty hefty. You might also have considered paying for placement in the Yellow Pages or in a local magazine. But no matter what you chose, your space was limited, and you could only rely on grayscale to represent your amazing products and services. In other words, you had to be over the top and obvious to make sure your point hit home. Thus, you ended up with a lot of cheesy ads like this one for Planet of the Apes toys. It gets its point across, but it looks dated, right?

Nowadays, fewer and fewer people are reading print newspapers. So what are people reading instead?

New Way: Blogs.

blogging-for-marketing
Who doesn’t have a blog these days?

To answer that question, people are reading blogs.

Today, many people choose to make their own space online. They want to share their original and personal experiences with readers and customers. And one great way to do this is to start a blog. Whether you want to write about the benefits of your industry in a sales-like manner, or you want to review and/or highlight new products used by industry professionals, blogs are an affordable way to do it. Plus, you can always write guest posts on other blogs and earn yourself a nice advertising spot without paying an exorbitant price. How’s that for the new Classifieds?

Old Way: Press Releases.

old-press-release
Typing up a press release by hand and getting it printed required a lot more effort than the syndicated press releases of today.

Image found at Zagato-Cars.com

Before the age of the internet, the process of writing a press release was a lot slower. First, it had to be hand-typed. Then it had to make its way to television stations, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers via mail or fax, depending on how far back we’re talking. Then it had to be approved and printed up or featured, and that could take a while. Honestly, it seems incredible, given the technology we have today, that these press releases were even featured in a timely manner.

To be clear, we still use press releases today. It’s just that you can now write them up without paper, and you can email them instead of mailing or faxing. People can then distribute them quickly using syndication software, and voila, you’re done. Much faster and much simpler.

New Way: Social Media Marketing.

social-media-marketing
So many social media networks to choose from.

If you don’t feel like writing up press releases today, there are still other ways to get the word out about your company. As mentioned above, you could blog or guest blog. You could also start a podcast or try being featured on a webcast.

But none of this really does any good if you don’t let people know about your work. So in order to effectively market your business, you must use social media. You can send your blog updates through all your social media feeds automatically so that whenever you post, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers will see it immediately. Now that’s fast. And you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get your information featured elsewhere. Not everyone needs press releases!

Old Way: Telephone Interviews and Client Dinners.

betty-dinner-party
A little corporate dinner party a la Mad Men.

And we’re not just talking about interviews on cell phones. No, we’re going back to the days of interviewing people via office telephones. Taking people out for dinner for a face-to-face discussion was common, and a lot more time had to be put aside to interview somebody. When you were finished, you had to take notes that you wrote down by hand (or just cold-recalled from memory) to write up a piece that did well. Of course, recorders could be used to gather your information, too, but then you’d have to arrange for a quiet place to meet.

Analog technology. Can you imagine going back to it now?

New Way: Skype Sessions. And Client Dinners.

skype-call
A lot easier than going into the office.

 Image found at: Memeburn.com

Of course people still do all the above-mentioned things, but the advances in technology have allowed for a lot more personal interactions via calls. For example, you can Skype with someone and see how they look and how they present themselves. You can speak via FaceTime if you’re on the go, or you could try Google Hangouts or Webinars.

And, okay, so people still love an excuse to go out and eat. Who can blame them? This one is probably going to stick around forever.

Old Way: TV Spots and Appearances.

budget-divorce
And who wouldn’t trust a budget divorce lawyer?

Before the internet, how could a company get the word out about its services? Well, TV spots and appearances were always a good way to make sure you were seen. Back before the days of cable and TiVo, TV watching was a bit different. Not as many channels to choose from, and you didn’t really have a lot of choice in skipping commercials. While we still see local adverts today, they were much more effective when the audience was roped into watching them. Or you could be featured on your local news station. Being featured assured that a lot of eyes were on you, though, so you had to make a good impression!

New Way: YouTube Channel, Instagram.

youtube-marketing
You, too, can have a YouTube channel. Now don’t get discouraged by all the cats with more subscribers than you.

Image from Mashable.com

The internet loves videos. Well, you probably already know this–did you watch any videos today? We’re betting you did. Whether you’re keeping up with world news or just mindlessly scrolling through funny Vines, you more than likely understand just how evocative and powerful video marketing can be–even if you’re not entirely familiar with the ins and outs of marketing.

So how can you utilize video marketing for your business? For those who like to-do videos or showcasing their talents, YouTube is a great way to reach your customers. For others who don’t have as much time to invest, Instagram might be a good choice (although Instagram is known for its focus on aesthetics over function). Vine is also a great way to connect–and with only six seconds to record your video, you have to be creative. It all depends on the style of your brand and how much time and energy you have to invest.

The best part about online video marketing? It’s free. No paying for television spots or expensive production. Just try your best and connect with your audience for the best results!

Old Way: Word of Mouth. New Way:…Word of Mouth.

Some things never change. 🙂 If you don’t believe us, check out this article on how word of mouth is still effective–even in the age of digital marketing. You can also check out more information on social media marketing here, or take a peek at the benefits of video content or get familiar with mobile marketing.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Should You Use Twitter Direct Messaging for Marketing?

If you’re looking for a way to connect with a fan who’s just followed you on Twitter, how would you do it? Would you take the time to seek them out personally and send them a welcome tweet? Or would you choose to automate a response–such as sending them a private message thanking them for their interest? Would you consider sending a tweet or message with a link to your products and services?

You might be surprised (or maybe you aren’t!) to learn that a lot of people will send an automated “welcome” direct message (or DM). Many companies also use this opportunity to attach a link to their website, another social media site, or their newsletter, with the idea being that more people will click through and be enticed to buy or sign up.

While it seems like a good idea on the surface, there’s always pros and cons to “cold messaging” campaigns. So let’s dig into the pros and cons of using direct messaging for marketing purposes!

PROS

There are some people who claim that by sending a message with a link to Facebook or a newsletter, they get increased engagements.

Some Twitter users–usually people selling personal services, such as consulting or ebooks–swear up and down that they get increased engagement from sending out auto-DMs. They’ll use a program or app to set it up so that when they get a new follower, they send out a private message with a link to their book, website, Facebook page, or some other place. They claim that their signups, downloads, and sales increase when they do this, and they ignore those who claim that this is intrusive or annoying.

Now, some people have tested this and got miserable results. So it’s not guaranteed, which could mean that perhaps it just needs to be studied more. For example, are certain industries more successful with auto-DMs than others? Is it appealing to a certain demographic, such as people in specific countries or age brackets? Well, we don’t know for sure. But this process is nonetheless still something that some find valuable, so if you’re willing to test it out, let us know. 🙂

Some users think that this is a polite way to reach out and contact someone else.

Remember the days when you sent a personalized thank-you note for every gift you received?

Well, there are still some people who thank visitors to their sites with a message built right into the page. There are some who send thank-you emails to people who have left positive feedback on review sites.

To these people, sending a quick, private thank-you message is the perfect way to show your appreciation for a brand new Twitter follower’s support. Other times, they might choose to send out an automated tweet rather than a DM. They do this because if they do not follow their new follower back, the follower cannot respond to the DM. A lot of people find this frustrating. So by sending out a welcome tweet rather than DM, the person can interact with their follower without feeling obligated to follow them back immediately.

It’s a way to see who is interested in the products you have to offer.

For a while, Twitter actually removed the ability for a person to send a link through DMs. This was because they were trying to fight spam–many people had complained about being spammed through private messaging. But for whatever reason, they decided to bring it back again, and boy, are people really making use of them. Many companies send links to a page where you can directly purchase a product or service.

Some people even take it to the next level and use a tool like JustUnfollow to track who unfollows them (then that way, they can make sure to unfollow the person back if need be).

But JustUnfollow also has an option to send a friendly thank you DM to people along with a link. So this makes it incredibly easy for people who use the app to figure out who is clicking and who is getting fed up and unfollowing them.

If you’re interested, here’s what Twitter has to say about this whole process, now that they’ve changed the rules back: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76915-automation-rules-and-best-practices.

CONS

Some people find this to be irritating at best, or intrusive at worst.

On the flip side, there are a lot of Twitter users who really dislike DMs. They find them to be irritating, claiming they clutter up the inbox, send unnecessary push notifications to devices, and don’t contain any valuable information. Others actually find them to be intrusive. They view them as unsolicited marketing spam, and they don’t want to have anything to do with it. In fact, some will go as far as to unfollow and block a company that tries this tactic. Ouch.

Some users think that it’s disingenuous, and they’d rather you just not do it at all.

There are still others who might find it irritating, but it’s not so much about the inconvenience as it is the motive behind the message. They see it as disingenuous–if you can’t take the time to send out a personalized DM to thank someone for their follow, then why send anything at all? To these users, there’s no point in sending out a pre-written private message to everyone. That takes away from the uniqueness and value of a personalized thank-you.

If you don’t follow the follower that you’re messaging, they can’t message you back. That irritates a lot of people.

As mentioned above, if you do not follow a person who sends you a DM, you cannot message them back. Needless to say, most companies won’t mass-follow their fans. So if the company sends a fan a message, the fan can do nothing about it other than delete it or follow the included link (if there is one). This makes for a miserable, one-sided communication attempt that many people find to be a waste of time.

There are a lot of people who don’t even check their DMs–in fact, they hate them so much, they’ll even put it in their bios.

Yes, it’s true: Some are so incredibly fed up with it that they don’t even bother to check DMs anymore. They’ll actually include that in their bio, just so everyone knows that all DMs WILL go unread. That’s a whole other level of annoyance with the concept of marketing using DMs. If you view them as SUCH a waste of time that you won’t even bother looking at them no matter what, then you’re pretty dead-set against it.

In our experience, it’s better to not bother people needlessly, and many, MANY people tend to be in the “don’t send auto DMs” camp. Obviously, the choice is yours–there are plenty of people who do it, and some claim they get a lot out of it, even if it causes some to unfollow them. Whatever you do, make sure you are polite rather than demanding, and give the person the opportunity to directly tweet you if they prefer. Good customer service goes a long way!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

The 10 Biggest Small Business SEO Blunders

1. You’re not optimizing your local search listings.

Are you listed on directory sites like Yelp, FourSquare, and Merchant Circle? If you’re not, this could be hurting your rankings. If you are listed across these sites but still aren’t seeing any boost in rakings, you will want to check to make sure you have listed all your information consistently. Check to ensure your business address, phone number, and website are all spelled correctly and don’t contain any unnecessary variation in syntax.

For example, if your address is “1234 Olive Branch Drive”, make sure every listing reads exactly like that. “1234 Olivebranch Drive” or “12 34 Olive branch dr” are both different listings!

Furthermore, if you find that you have duplicate listings, make sure you claim ONE and delete the duplicates, as this could be confusing people who are searching for your business.

2. You’re trying to rank for broad keywords.

If you’re in a small area, you might be able to rank for the keyword “plumber.” But if you’re in a bigger city, chances are that there are a lot of other plumbers working there with you. That means you have a lot of competition when people are searching locally!

So what can you do to improve this situation? Well, you might want to try linking for more specific keywords. For example, instead of “Cleveland plumber”, you might want to try “Cleveland plumber residential septic”. This way, you can rank for more specific keywords–and these are far more likely to get you ranking than something that’s too simple.

3. Using the same anchor text over and over.

You’ve probably heard something about keyword density before–something like “you must have 2-5% keyword density in your article to make it visible to search engines.” And you’ve more than likely also heard that you should use anchor text on your links so that you can target specific keywords.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

First of all, the keyword density thing is long-outdated. Google is smart–over the years, the search engine has learned to look for different variations on the same phrase. So that means that if you link to one page using the exact same anchor text over and over again, search engines (or even your visitors!) might think you’re trying something fishy. A good rule of thumb for you to remember is that if it looks spammy to you, it’s going to look spammy to your readers–and to the search engines. So regardless of what you’ve read about keyword density and repeating anchor text, following this practice is not going to help you in the long run.

So what should you do? Creating high-quality content that contains your keywords and key phrases is the best bet. Don’t stuff your keywords in or worry about using them in a bizarre way (such as our “Cleveland plumber residential septic” example–how would you fit that into a natural-sounding sentence?). Just write organically about your topic and you’ll be fine.

 4. Using subpar content.

Did you hire someone to write your content for you or did you write your content yourself? If you hired someone else to write it, did you check their credentials and make sure that their work is easy to read? Or does it come off a bit unprofessional, with misspellings or poor grammar? If you did the work yourself, do you feel confident in your ability to write good content, or do you feel a little embarrassed of the work you put up?

If something seems off about your content, we have some bad news for you: Your readers will probably notice too. If your content doesn’t read well or is perceived as untrustworthy, you’re destined to stay buried under your competitors.

So if you feel confident about your writing skills, go ahead and post fresh content on your pages; just make sure that you edit your work before you post it.

If you don’t feel confident and choose to hire a writer, make sure you select a candidate who actually has quality work in his or her portfolio! Don’t just hire the “cheapest” writer because you want to save money.

Always remember that quality is key when it comes to content. No exceptions.

5. Focusing too much on getting links vs. creating content.

Most people who are just getting into SEO learn very quickly how important backlinks are.

And before you get all up in arms, we’ll make it perfectly clear that we’re NOT saying backlinks aren’t important.

K. With that out of the way, if you focus too heavily on getting links to your site, but don’t bother creating a good site, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. You need a reason for your readers to want to return–a reason for them to trust you and your work. If you just get a bunch of people linking to a boring landing page, you’re not going to gain much for all your effort.

So while reaching out to other sites and building links is important, don’t forget to make your website spectacular, too!

6. Not using meta tags or descriptions.

Meta tags and descriptions help search engines categorize and cache your site. If a search engine can’t find any pertinent information, it’s not going to know how to place your site–and it won’t see it as “relevant”. That’s why you have to make sure to include meta tags and proper descriptions in every page’s header.

This probably seems like too much work or like it’s too complicated, especially if you’re an SEO beginner. But it doesn’t have to be. If you host your site on WordPress, you can get a plug-in that helps you fill in all this important information. Try Yoast or All-in-One SEO. In just a few minutes, you can easily fill in keywords and descriptions that make your site attractive to search engines–no coding required.

If you’re not on WordPress, you might have a tougher time with this, but you can read more about the usage of meta tags and descriptions here.

7. Not bothering with Google Analytics.

Have you signed up for Google Analytics? If not, you’re missing out on a lot of important data–data that can tell you just about everything you need to know about your site’s visitors.

When you use analytics, you gain access to insider knowledge: Who is visiting your site the most? Where are they from? Which pages are they visiting–and how long are they staying on each page? By learning a bit about the basics of Google Analytics, you can figure out what is and what isn’t working for your site. Once you have a basic idea of where your strengths lie, you can begin to provide more content that your visitors crave, and in turn, make a more focused plan of how you will update in the months to come.

Now that’s a good way of growing your readership, and a great way to nab some true fans.

8. Ignoring social media integration.

So let’s say you have your website set up and it looks great. You update your blog regularly. You even have a photo gallery dedicated to your company’s stellar products and services. But do you have a way for your visitors to connect with you via social media?

Social media is a huge part of marketing nowadays. If people can’t find your company on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you might be selling yourself short–think of all those fans you could be missing out on. Be sure to make it crystal clear to your visitors how they can connect with you on social media.

And if you haven’t signed up yet, we’ve got some news for you: you’d better get crackin’ on that. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with your clients and customers simply because you’re too frightened of change or because you think you don’t have enough time to learn social media. It’s well worth it, we promise.

9. Forgetting to update your blog or post new content.

How many times have you told yourself that you were going to update your blog once a week–and then you wrote one post and forgot to update for a month?

Or, have you told yourself that you don’t care about updating a blog–you put up a website a few years ago and it’s good enough, right?

Well, that’s just no good. If you want to be found by the search engines, you have to make sure you look relevant. If you were searching for, say, a local veterinarian, and the website the search engines pulled up looked like it hadn’t been updated in 12 years, would you choose to call that vet or find another one? You’d probably head to another vet, right?

That’s exactly what Google tries to avoid. It wants to create the best experience for its users, so it will devalue your site if  it doesn’t deliver fresh, relevant content. So whether you choose to blog or you just update your site’s existing content regularly, the key is to make sure you create some new data for the search engines to gobble up.

10. Thinking SEO is just a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

So you’ve hired an SEO to go over your site and make sure it’s search-engine ready. You’ve paid them–probably a decent amount–and now you’re good to go, right?

Unfortunately, no. SEO best practices change all the time. Search engine algorithms constantly change, and what that means is what is a-okay today might not be tomorrow. Obviously, such drastic changes aren’t occurring that frequently, but every once in a while a big update will throw a wrench into rankings, sending previously-optimized sites crashing into the depths of the search engine result pages. It’s for this reason that you should keep an SEO expert available to monitor your site and make the necessary changes. After all, they keep up with the industry and it is their job to make sure their clients see results.

And hey, on that note, that’s what we do.

So if you’re looking for help with any of this, just drop us a line and let us know.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

7 Signs You’re Doing Social Media Wrong


Not getting the results you want on social media? Feeling frustrated because your time and efforts are going to waste? We’re going to be real with you here–you’re probably doing something that’s making people want to turn away from you.

But not to fret! You can fix it. Read on and see if you fall into any of these 7 categories. If you do… well, read to the end and make sure you know how you’re going to go about finding a solution to your problems. 🙂

1. You can’t seem to find any new friends

Whether you’ve been trying to attract new friends or you’re just letting people come to you as they please, your followers/fans lists are looking pretty sparse. You wonder why. You update, you have pictures of your business. You’re on the web like you’re supposed to be, so why aren’t people coming to you?

The answer is that social media requires you to be–shocker–social. If you’re taking the Field of Dreams approach (“If you build it, they will come!”), you might find that you’re not getting the results you want. If you can’t seem to find any new friends, then that’s because you’re not putting yourself out there. Be the first to introduce yourself. Interact with other businesses and potential clients. When you act social, then you will in turn make friends and grow your following. Who’d have thought?

2. Your fans and followers aren’t interacting with you

Okay, so let’s say you’ve reached out and found friends, fans, followers–the whole gang. But you don’t seem to get any real reactions. You tweet out updates, but nobody retweets them. You post articles on Facebook, but it seems like everyone has found other things to read. What gives?

Sometimes people are following you, but your voice is being drowned out by all the other noise, so they don’t get to see everything you post. Try posting a link more than once (do not confuse this with spamming–if you spam your followers, you can bet you’ll lose friends faster than you ever thought possible) or changing up the hashtags. If you cite certain articles or authors in your posts, why not tag them when you send out your update?

Another reason your followers might not be interacting with you is because they don’t have much to say about what you’ve posted. Think about it–how many times have you read an article and enjoyed it, but didn’t comment? Probably many. So why not try asking a question or finding a way for your followers to really get involved with your content? Ask them which product they prefer and why, or get their feedback on some new, exciting feature you’re about to unveil.

3. The only interest you ever drum up is related to controversy

Tired of talking to yourself all the time, you decided you were going to post on one of the more controversial topics–religion or politics. You said something you probably wouldn’t have said if you weren’t so agitated, and now the only interaction you’re getting is when people start yelling at you.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big business or a small one–you should stick to professional topics. That doesn’t mean that you have to be stiff and humorless about everything, but no one needs to know your opinion on hot-button topics. It’s not professional and it’s not going to help you make any friends.

4. The last time you logged in was in 2014

If you sparsely update your accounts, you’re never going to get anywhere on social media. It’s a hard pill to swallow for some–between time and money, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be enough of either to effectively manage social media.

But there are ways around this. We’ve written posts on automating updates, using tools to make your marketing strategy more effective, and improving your social media strategy without spending lots of money.

Listen, the only way you can build a following online is by being online. Whether you update twice a week or twice a day, it’s of the utmost importance that you find a schedule you can stick to and work on building trust with your followers. Then you’ll see that you’re finding new friends and fans on a regular basis!

5. All you do is advertise yourself

Look through your update history. If everything comes off as an aggressive sales pitch, it’s time to dial your advertising back a notch.

When you’re on social media, you are there to learn, relax, browse, shop… well, you could be there for a number of things, really. But chances are that you completely ignore any post that comes across as too aggressive, even under ideal circumstances. If your friends are posting too obnoxiously, you roll your eyes. If a business is trying too hard to get you to click on something, you’re almost repelled by it. So why would you want to do the same to your customers?

Look for ways to support your friends. “Like” their statuses or retweet them. Comment on the updates they share. In return, they’ll do the same to you, and you’ll have a much nicer atmosphere to enjoy. If you want, try to keep in mind the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you’re sharing interesting, relevant articles or supporting community members; 20% of the time you’re advertising your services and promoting your work.

6. You delete all negative feedback–or freak out about it

If someone leaves a negative comment on your Facebook page, what do you do?

After an initial panic, you might do one of a few things: Respond to it nicely and professionally, flame the person in your response, ignore it, or delete it.

If you delete negative feedback, you’re just saying that you refuse to have a discussion with your customers, no matter how important they think the matter is. Did something go wrong with a product and they’re feeling frustrated about it? You’re saying that you really don’t care if you just delete the comment and never respond. How would you feel if a business did that to you? Probably not great, right?

On the other hand, it’s hard not to take it personally. So you’ll see some business owners get really nasty with customers who are leaving negative feedback on their social media pages. Don’t do this. If you feel upset, read this article. We’ve got some tips to help you respond to negative comments without blowing your top.

7. You don’t or won’t respond to customers

This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the above, but it goes for all situations: Maybe you just don’t respond to customers, whether they leave good or bad comments.

This isn’t going to help you win any friends, either.

Customers are following you because they want to hear what you have to say. And when they ask a question, they’d like an answer. If you don’t give that to them, they’re going to feel as if they’re talking to a wall. If you were in school and listening to a lecture, you might have a question. If the speaker or teacher completely blew you off and kept talking over you as if you weren’t even there, how would you feel? Probably like never coming back to that class again.

When someone reaches out to you, answer their questions. If they have something bad to say, suck it up and respond in a professional way. Doing this will put you ahead of those companies who neglect their customers online or who refuse to deal with any negative feedback at all. And that means a lot to your online friends, fans, followers, customers… whatever you want to call them.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Why Social Media Will Change the Way You Do Business

During a discussion with a friend, the topic of Twitter came up. He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal–in fact, he seemed adamant that it wasn’t.

“Why would I care what anyone had for lunch?” he said. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this, but I had an idea of where he was going with it. So I asked him to elaborate.

“Well, that’s all people ever do on Twitter. They just post stupid pictures of their food or tell you what they’re doing at that exact moment. And no one cares. At least, I don’t.”

Does this sound like you? Are you perplexed by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest… or even social media in general? If so, you’re not alone. At first glance, social media can seem self-indulgent and pointless for businesses–it seems far too personal and maybe even banal.

But don’t judge social media too quickly. If you’re a small business owner, it’s time you learned the basics of popular social media platforms–and not because you need to know how to share a picture of that great Chinese food you just ate, but because social media will actually change the way you do business. And it’ll change it for the better, as long as you know the ropes.

One of the first things that will happen is…

You’ll realize how much more you can do online.

If there’s one thing about being online, it’s that you can go practically anywhere and do practically anything. Want to let your customers know about a new special you’re running without sending out a postcard? Now you can tell them on Facebook or Twitter, or you could opt to send them a newsletter update. Want to research new ways to get customers through your doors? You can find advice anywhere from experienced business owners–forums, other social media sites, videos on YouTube. Do you need support because you’re feeling stressed? There are tons of places you can find that. Social media is a great option for all these things.

Basically, what it boils down to is that simply being online gives you a network you don’t have access to in the physical world. By knowing where to look, you’ll realize just how much more you can do online than you ever could before.

You can work on social media even while you’re sleeping.

Yes, this is one that social media “gurus” love to trot out because it makes the job sound luxurious. The job isn’t really luxurious… more like, it’s easy to make it look that way. When you’re a small business owner and you’re looking to reach your customers during hours that your shop isn’t open, then you can take advantage of scheduling social media posts. Never before would you be able to attend to advertising and promotion at 3 am!

Another bonus to scheduling your posts is that you can reach customers who are night owls or who reside in different time zones. Obviously this is more effective for certain industries, but the point still stands: You may not physically be able to stay open 24 hours a day, but using social media for your business will allow you to always be present online.

You can interact with customers on your time–and they can interact with you on theirs.

Because your social media profiles are always available, customers can leave you feedback whenever they want. In today’s increasingly-busy world, that’s an important thing. On the flip side, you can also respond to them when you have the chance. If you like checking your social media from home at night, you can take care of the day’s questions and comments before winking out. You wouldn’t be able to do that otherwise!

It’s important to note, too, that many people prefer to contact someone via text or a quick private message than a phone call. This allows them to get important information they need while at work or when otherwise occupied, so it’s important that you take these demands into consideration when running your social media sites. Let your customers contact you in the ways they prefer!

You can put forth a different persona.

Obviously your customers are going to want to see your brand be authentic. And you’re not going to want to treat your business page as you would a personal one. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be super formal when you’re on social media! You can blog about useful topics, but you don’t have to present it like a term paper. You can update your Facebook with company news, but keep it fun and casual. When you’re using social media for your business, you’re not advertising in the traditional way. You are free to be more… well, yourself. And isn’t that a great thing to be?

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.