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.

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Working Effectively with Internet Marketing Experts

internet-marketing-experts
How can you best work with internet marketing experts?

So you’ve hired internet marketing experts to take over the marketing strategy for your small business. You’re excited to see results and you’ve already begun paying for your marketing team to begin the work. You check your rankings the next day, and it seems that you haven’t moved up at all. You check again after a week, and things still don’t seem to be going as planned. At this point, you’re frustrated and ready to tell them you’re finished—you want to work with a different internet marketing company. If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Many small business owners have felt the exact way you do—so in this article, we’re going to talk about making the most of your experience with internet marketing experts, and what you can reasonably expect while implementing your marketing strategy.

Internet marketing is not an overnight process.

When you hire a gardener to plant your garden and tend to the plants as they grow, you know the process will take time. You don’t expect a seed to germinate into a blooming flower the next day! The same thing goes for marketing. Internet marketing experts need to take a look at your individual case and plan accordingly. For example, some clients have zero presence on the internet—no website, no local listings, no blog. Others have been doing their own work and simply need assistance managing social media or content distribution. By the same token, there are industries in which there is a lot of competition—HVAC, roofing contractors, and auto mechanics. Other industries have an easier time ranking because they are one of a few businesses that provide a service in an area—people like dentists, medical specialists, or even psychics. Everyone’s case is different, and everyone takes a different amount of time to begin appearing on the first page. So how is this possible? Well, Google combs through data on a daily basis, and it begins to compare this data over time. So it makes sense that it’s not going to find your site, immediately deem it the “most relevant” and put it at the top of the search results above all of your competitors. It takes time for Google to weigh and determine site relevancy, so you must be patient as this process takes shape.

Changing things without consulting your marketing team can result in setbacks.

If you’re feeling antsy about a particular keyword not showing up, you might feel like you want to get rid of it and choose another. But if you go into your blog or Google Places and begin changing keywords around, you’ll eventually find that you can easily undo all the hard work you’ve put in already–even if you meant well. This isn’t to say you can never (or should never) change keywords—sometimes, you find that you’ll just stay on the second or third page indefinitely with the amount of competition you’re facing. In this case, talk to your marketing team and determine new keywords to use. Over time, you’ll hopefully see improvements for these terms. If you don’t see any new traffic growth over the first few months, then you definitely need to take a look at what’s going wrong and make adjustments accordingly. The main lesson here is to not go ahead and do things without consulting your team. You are, after all, paying them to help you rank. You should always understand one another and what your goals are. If there is no communication between you and your marketing experts, then you’ll essentially be throwing away money. You need to work together!

Get involved and learn about the process.

Obviously if you’re hiring internet marketing experts to manage your marketing strategy, it’s because you don’t have the time (or desire) to learn how to do marketing on your own. And that’s fine! But if you take the time to learn just a few basics about internet marketing, you’ll find that you can more easily follow along with the process and even enhance it. At Internet Local Listings, we do manage many clients’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. However, our clients often ask to be involved with the process, and we encourage it. By tweeting, updating your Facebook status, or writing content for your own page, you’re helping the process along and learning more about how to work with your internet marketing team as you go. That’s a great thing! By combining ideas and discussing tactics, you can enhance your team just like you would with traditional or word-of-mouth marketing. Give input, feedback, and get your hands “dirty”, and you’ll get a lot more out of your internet marketing experience. If you would like to learn more about digital or online marketing, check out our Back to Basics series, where you can learn about SEO basics and discover simple changes you can implement on your site to help boost your rankings. If you want to hire a team of qualified internet marketing experts, simply give us a call at (888) 770-3950 or visit our contact us page and fill out a form. You can also use our scanner to see if your site is listed correctly across the internet! So contact us today to discuss your marketing concerns with our experienced, qualified internet marketing experts!   Check out these pages for more information on internet marketing tips:

 

Back to Basics #8: Social Media Trends: Do Small Businesses Need to Keep Up?

social-media-trends-for-small-businesses
Should small businesses keep up with new social media trends?

Small business owners: Are you tired of hearing about the importance of social media? Have you started up a Facebook page or Twitter account and decided that it’s just too much effort for too little payoff? Well, you’re not alone. Many small business owners feel that social media trends don’t offer a lot for their companies—what’s popular today might be gone in a couple of months, after all. And who wants to spend a lot of time building up a following just to find out that there’s another new social media network out there?

Unfortunately, you still need to be harnessing the power of social media. Even if you don’t keep up to date with social media trends, you will find that there are certain staples that are here to stay—at least for a few years. And that’s plenty of time for you to invest in your followers and customers to make sure they connect with your company.

The number of small businesses jumping on board with social media trends is only growing.

Did you know that…

  • 88% of small businesses use LinkedIn.
  • 84% of small businesses use Facebook.
  • 74% of small businesses use Twitter.
  • 58% of small businesses use Google+.

(statistics taken from HeidiCohen.com)

And the numbers are only growing. Many small business owners who haven’t begun social media marketing yet say that they plan on implementing a strategy within the next year. Those who already have often say that they want to step up marketing efforts and track results more carefully. If you’re in the former camp, check out our articles to learn more about what social media is, and how to develop effective social media marketing strategies on a small business budget.

Text and photos aren’t enough anymore—you need to try out videos.

Another one of the top social media trends for small businesses is the growing usage of YouTube. Companies are happily producing their own visual content for their customers. According to a small business survey conducted by Verticalresponse.com, 35% of the small businesses they surveyed said that they used YouTube as a part of their regular marketing efforts. With the number of free video creation programs available on the internet now, it’s become much easier for even the most non-artistic person to make informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly videos. You can actually have a lot of fun creating videos for your customers—think of them like visual blog articles. You can talk about a variety of subjects relating to your industry. For blogging ideas, check out our article here and apply some ideas to your video content. The videos don’t have to be stiff and “corporate” in appearance–you can make them as unique as your company.

But what about the competition? How do you keep up?

Yes, it’s true that your competition will likely be using social media just as you are. And it’s also true that as people join social media sites, you’ll have more competitors. You’ll be competing not only for business, but for your content to even be seen in the first place! Think about it: If the average Facebook user has, say, 300 friends, how many posts do you think they’ll see in a day? A lot. Now think of all the companies they’ve “liked”. There’s going to be a lot of competition to be seen on their news feed.

Unfortunately, as the user base for social media sites grows, the competition levels get continually tougher. And usually the only way around this is to start paying. You can pay for ads to be placed on a target demographic’s page, or you can “boost” your posts to make sure they stay on top of a news feed. You’re certainly not forced to do this by any means—but remember this as time goes on.

Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been working on it for years, there’s no way around it: small businesses must stay on top of social media trends if they want to see organic growth online. This isn’t to say you must spend 24 hours a day on social media; however, with regular updates and time investment, you’ll see your engagement growing and your efforts paying off.

And if social media trends are just too much for you to handle right now…

If you need help managing your social media accounts, visit Internet Local Listings and take a look at our internet marketing packages. We’ll be happy to help you get whatever you need to be seen online–whether it’s social media, a new website, or local business listings!

Is Word of Mouth Marketing Still Effective?

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Is word-of-mouth marketing still an effective way of reaching customers?

In today’s busy, online-centric world, you hear a lot about how social media is the answer to everything: more traffic to your website, more phone calls to your business, and more customers purchasing your products and services. As a small business owner, you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on complicated advertising campaigns. While larger businesses have millions to pour into campaigns that they can adjust over time, you have a very limited budget and no excess to tweak your strategy in the future. So you’re probably still relying on word of mouth marketing. But is it still effective? Are you getting the most you possibly can from it?

Word of Mouth is Still a Reliable Marketing Method

Many small business owners say that they still use word-of-mouth advertising and that it is effective for their marketing efforts. In fact, two in three marketers say that word of mouth marketing is actually more effective than any other traditional marketing tactics they’ve tried. According to a study done by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 70% of marketers say that their companies will increase social media budgets in the next year, whereas only 29% say that they’ll spend more on offline word-of-mouth marketing. So what does this mean? It means that small businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing, they find it to be effective, and because of this, they don’t see it as necessary to dump a bunch of money into it. It’s a safe investment for them because they get real results.

Word of Mouth Marketing is More Flexible Than You Think

If you think about it, you can still benefit from word of mouth marketing while utilizing modern social media tactics.

Sites like Angie’s List make it possible for your customers to leave feedback in an online space designed to market your business. Encourage your happy customers to leave you a glowing review to bring in more business. It’s like telling a friend that you really loved a restaurant and then they go and check it out. Someone recommends your site on Angie’s List and that’s a lot of clout.

Yelp  is also a great site to show how awesome your small business is. Again, encourage your happy customers to leave reviews and help spread the word about your business. Yelp is practically a go-to resource for those looking for local businesses.

Facebook is another way you can connect with local customers. When your customers share your statuses or interact with you on your page, they’re more likely to buy from you. In fact, 85% of customers who follow brands on Facebook are likely to recommend it to their friends.

You Can Still Encourage Customers to Spread the Word in Person

While all of these strategies work to spread the word about your company, simply talking to friends and family is still an effective way to bring in new customers. If you are in the business of working directly with clients—say, as a lawyer, doctor, or dentist—you have a lot to gain from this. People are far more likely to take recommendations from friends and family when it comes to important things like finances and health.

Let the experts at Internet Local Listings help you get the word out about your business. We’ll get you listed across all major online directories and we even provide updates for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By working together, we can get people talking about your brand—and help you draw in new clientele.

3 Easy Google Ranking Factors to Implement on Your Website

Google Ranking Factors, Google Logo
There are a lot of Google ranking factors, but you can easily implement a few on your site–and you’ll see results!

Learning to market your own website can seem like an extremely daunting task, particularly if you’re new to being online. But there’s no need to worry. All it takes is learning a few easy tricks and you’ll start seeing improvement on your site’s ranking. So what’s the easiest way to improve your site’s ranking without spending a fortune? By learning a bit about content creation. Content creation is one of the top ways you can improve your site’s rankings because Google places a lot of value on websites with valuable content. This means that the successful sites update often with helpful posts. Google also particularly likes posts with pictures and great formatting that includes using bolding and italics. In this post, we’ll go over the top 3 easiest Google ranking factors to start implementing on your site—once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Update frequently.

Google is constantly caching new data. As such, it’s important that your site stays up to date by posting fresh content frequently. This doesn’t mean that you need to update every hour, or even every day—but at least once a week should help. Easy topics include posting about what your company is up to, any specials you’re running, or events that are on the horizon. But don’t just promote yourself—always find ways to connect with your customers and engage them in a conversation. If you find yourself running low on post ideas, try thinking outside the box a bit. What would your customers like to learn about? What are some related interests that your readers might find useful? For example, let’s say you run a dog grooming studio. You might try writing about:

  • The best hairstyles of the Westminster Dog Show
  • The top foods to feed your dog to keep his or her coat healthy
  • Little-known facts about dog breeds throughout history

Your clients would find all of these posts fun, entertaining, and useful, and they’ll surely enjoy coming back to check out your site to see your new content. You can use these posts as a way to pitch your business as well—just include links to relevant products and services at the end of the posts!

Use images in your posts.

Not only does this make your post look better, but it is actually one of the easiest Google ranking factors to understand and implement. Most blogs allow you to set a “featured image” before you publish a post. You’ll need to upload a relevant picture and name it something descriptive. For example, the title “dog grooming scissors” is better than just “scissors”. Set this phrase as the image’s name and as well as the “alt” text. Why? Because images on-page deliver strong relevancy data through their file name, alt text, title, description and caption. Plus, when others share your post on Facebook or Twitter, the picture will show up with the text. People are much more likely—in fact, 42% more likely—to click on links with photos, so it’s a win-win all around! Here are a few key things to remember:

  • You’ll find the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption in your blog’s image editor. WordPress makes it very simple and intuitive. You can do it all from an organized “dashboard” while you’re crafting your post.
  • If you’re having trouble understanding how to use an image in a post, here is a great tutorial at ManageWP Blog. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this already!

Use title tags and repetition.

This time, let’s say you run a salon, and you want to make sure that the search engines know that you have the best salon hair products. You’ve uploaded your image appropriately, and now you’re set to write your content. So how do you make sure your content stands out among the competition? There are two main things to consider. You don’t need to understand a lot about marketing to do this—it’s simple and easy. The first is to include the keyword in the title. This makes sense. If you’re writing about salon hair produts, be sure to put that in your post’s title. It’s that simple! Ideally, you should put the keyword toward the beginning rather than close to the end, but this doesn’t really make that much difference. To illustrate, an example would be:

  • Salon Hair Products: Worth the Price Tag?
  • Why Everyone Should Invest in Salon Hair Products

The first title would be better simply because “salon hair products” appears at the beginning of the title. However, both utilize the keyword, so they’re both good choices.

Keyword Repetition

One of the most important Google ranking factors to this day is the repetition of the keyword or key phrase. When Google scans your content, it will pick up on phrases that have been repeated. It will see this as relevant, and thus, you’ll rank higher for that keyword or key phrase. This is all well and good, but it’s also been one of the most heavily-abused ranking practices. You must be sure that when you write your content, your keywords fit in without being referenced too often. There is no magic number to aim for, but use it a few times in a natural way and you should be fine.

More About Google Ranking Factors

There’s so much more to ranking on Google than what was discussed in this article. But the information you’ve received here should help you learn the basics of blogging for search engine optimization! Now, as a small business owner, you can certainly take the time to craft your own posts according to these rules. However, unless you become an expert in the content marketing industry, you won’t be able to match the results you’d get by hiring professional writers.  This is also a time-consuming endeavor–you must update frequently to see results. So if you find yourself strapped for time and want to get the best services available, you can always give Internet Local Listings the chance to create great content for you! Simply call us or fill out our form here and we’ll be happy to talk to you about how we can put all the important Google ranking factors to work for your business.

Best 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Benefits of Social Media Networking for Small Businesses

Has your company been planning a social media marketing campaign? Do you already have a campaign running? Whether you’re a small business with a small budget, or a medium-sized business looking to invest more in a marketing campaign, social media is an integral part of your advertising approach.

If you’re on the fence about utilizing social media, here are the best 5 benefits of social media marketing that are sure to change your mind.

  1. Most businesses report seeing vast improvements in customer engagement when using social media. According to Social Media Examiner, a whopping 92% of small businesses reported their social media efforts generating more exposure for their businesses. That’s no small number of business owners! Makes us wonder what the other 8% saw. This doesn’t take into consideration, however, how frequently the sites were updated, nor does it say how much money was spent in the process.
  2. 3 in 5 small businesses said they gained customers through social media. Amanda Sibley at Hubspot reports that the majority of small businesses found that they’ve actually increased sales simply by staying up-to-date with social media platforms. Even if they didn’t spend a lot of money on advertising, the simple act of updating with fresh content helped them rank better and better communicate with customers.
  3. Social media marketing budgets are expected to double in the next year. So what does this have to do with your small business? It simply means that more people are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Right now, there is still a lot of competition on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But with visits to Google Plus rising (Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month, whereas Facebook nets 809 million),and Tumblr and Pinterest still holding users’ attention up to 4x longer than other sites, it’s worth it to investigate which other social media platforms would benefit your company—and to do so sooner rather than later. The benefits of social media marketing are almost indisputable in this area!
  4. People still read through the ads on social media sites. According to Social Media Today, 60% of LinkedIn users have clicked on an ad on the site, and 43% of U.S. marketers have obtained at least one new customer through LinkedIn. Those statistics alone should make you stop to consider whether your business could be benefitting from networking on LinkedIn. Likewise, other social media sites also have a great effect on traffic: Almost 60% of all social media-referred traffic to B2B websites comes from just three networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  5. Mobile coupons placed on social media sites get more clicks. As stated by Local Vox, Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons and mobile ads get 3x the clicks. By strategically incorporating mobile coupons to your social media marketing plan, you’ll see an increase in customer engagement as well as purchases.

For more information on the benefits of social media marketing, you can contact one of the Internet Local Listings representatives here or read through our plans to see if you’re ready to take the leap into social media!