3 Reasons to Encourage Customer Reviews

customer reviews five stars
Customer reviews are essential to your small business’s growth.

Whether you really enjoyed your service or really hated it, chances are that you’ve left a review for a company before. Believe it or not, these reviews (even the bad ones!) can actually help a company in multiple ways: Reviews not only help a business gain visibility and credibility on the internet, but it also gives the owners a chance to converse with customers and learn how to make a customer’s experience better. In other words, reviews benefit everyone. But how can you go about encouraging customer to leave reviews for a small business without coming off as pushy or desperate?

Here are three reasons you should encourage customer reviews in a natural—not an annoying—way.

  1. Customers who read online reviews tend to purchase more. According to statistics cited by Econsultancy.com, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews. And when you really think about it, this probably rings true for you, too. In my case, the last time I was shopping for a book online, I read the reviews first. Sometimes I purposely look through books with terrible ratings just to see how bad they really are (strange pastime, I know); however, I will never end up paying for them. Instead, I’ll pay for the ones that have outstanding reviews. And I bet if you think back to the last time you were shopping online, you probably did the same thing.
  1. Reviews can help advertise a new product. Do you have a new product or service available for your customers? You can encourage reviews by offering a coupon or gift certificate to those who complete a survey or leave you a review. According to Sam Decker, vice president of marketing and products at Bazaarvoice, a gift certificate offered in exchange for reviews can boost your review volume by 500 to 800 percent. That’s a lot of new reviews for your company—and the gift certificates will bring in customers who may otherwise have decided against making a purchase at your store.
  2. Reviews help customers get more involved with your brand. When a customer leaves you a review, they’re spending their own free time offering you their voice. Whether the review is positive or not, this is a pretty big deal! Take the time to respond to your reviews. Make sure that you engage all customers with respect and honesty. And be sure to encourage them to review wherever it feels comfortable. For example, if you’re on Yelp as well as Foursquare, leave links to Yelp and Foursquare on all of your sites—social media included. Send out periodic tweets or posts asking customers (politely) to leave a review if they had a great experience with you. Before long, your customers will become more involved with your brand. And when they see that you respond to your customers, they’ll know that you take the time to read their opinions and that you take them seriously. Now that’s some positive PR!

With these things in mind, here are a few things you might want to avoid:

Don’t blast the customer with an email every other day. Have you noticed now that wherever you go—the mall, a restaurant, or even a website—that everyone asks you to fill out a survey or give an opinion? As a customer, it gets exhausting. As a business owner, it’s stressful. You, the owner, get irritated trying to get customers to cooperate. And in turn, they don’t feel like filling out a form after every shopping experience! So simply ask them in a polite way and move on. They’ll participate if they want to, and bugging them all the time won’t help your case.

Don’t beg for reviews. I’ve seen it on Twitter more times than I care to count. “Review me and I’ll love you forever!” “Help me out and I’ll follow you!” “Please, please, please review me, I need help!” None of this looks good; it’s actually totally unprofessional in the best scenario, and makes you look desperate in the worst. There’s no issue with occasionally tweeting something like “Have you had a great experience at our store? Leave us a review!” and posting a link to the review site. Just be sure to ask in a friendly, professional manner and try not to spam your followers.

Don’t fake reviews. You know the saying “Fake it ‘til you make it?” Well, that doesn’t apply here. Faking reviews is probably the biggest faux pas that small companies make, as well as the one most commonly seen. Your family and friends are probably more than willing to help you out by leaving you glowing, positive reviews. And that’s great that they support you—but you should be focused on gathering real customer reviews. Don’t fall victim to paying for them or padding your reviews with falsities.

Need help getting customer reviews?

At Internet Local Listings, we help our clients get their small businesses listed accurately across the internet. As an internet marketing company, we strive to help each and every client reach more customers, and in turn, grow their business. And because our packages are priced at a rate that the average small business can afford, we truly believe that by working together, we can make a lasting difference for your company where other internet marketing companies can’t. Call or visit us today for more information.

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 #6: Why Small Business Listings are Essential for Local Businesses

small business listings
As a small business owner, you know how important your local customers are.

Note: If you’re an internet marketing expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

If you’re a beginner, we welcome you to read our Back to Basics series to learn more about internet advertising and small business marketing.

And be sure to follow our blog for posts delivered to your inbox!

 

Today, people search online to find their favorite businesses—whether they’re looking for a new place to eat dinner or they need to find a reputable salon, they’re far more likely to use a popular search engine to browse through their options than they are to do offline research. After all, with access to a computer or a smart phone at nearly every moment of the day, there’s no reason for people to locate a phone book or a business directory just to give you a call. It’s a waste of time! (And, while we’re at it, a waste of trees and ink!) For small business owners, this means all company information must be made available across a wide range of local listings online to ensure customers can find your site.

As of June 2014, nearly 69% of global searches were conducted on Google. That’s a huge number! But you may be wondering why Google is the top choice for most users. There are other search engines out there, so what gives?

It’s really quite simple. When someone searches for a local business or service, Google combines relevant search data with maps, store hours, site information, and more to create a virtual company profile. It’s visually appealing and easy to use. You can find exactly what you’re looking for with only a few clicks.  If you don’t have your business listed with Google (or across any other major small business listings online), you run the risk of your potential customers going to your competitors rather than your store.

So here’s the fast and hard truth: small business listings are essential to the success of your business.

Especially for companies who have a lot of competitors. Even if your company has been around for years and has a lot of word of mouth advertising success behind it, you need to be listed online. It’s simply the easiest and fastest way to appeal to new customers. Furthermore, even old customers might want to look at your website, look up your phone number, or take a peek at your store hours, and the best way to find those is through small business listings on Google.

Don’t believe us? Here are a few facts that will definitely change your mind:

59% of consumers use Google every month to find a good business. And of these consumers, over 70% value what they find in the results. This data can’t make it any more clear: if your business doesn’t show up in a local search, you’re missing out on people who are not only trying to find businesses like yours, but you’re also missing out on people who are very likely to trust your listing and stop in to your store. Consumers are looking monthly—be there for them.

74% of searches for small business listings take place on Google. Consumers are choosing to look through Google before any other online listings–There are even different listings available for your business depending on your country! And yet, Google dominates the searches, so you need to be absolutely sure you’re listed on this search engine powerhouse!

Claim your small business listings on Google to give yourself a competitive edge. By claiming your listings on Google, you give yourself a huge advantage over your competitors who haven’t done so. You can not only link to your site, but you can add pictures, let customers leave reviews for you, and improve the likelihood that your business will be found when customers search for products or services related to your business. It’s just common sense!

But Google isn’t the end-all, be-all of small business listings.

The success and prevalence of Google is obvious in this situation. If you do not get listed across Google, you’re doing your small business a disservice. But there are other places people look, too: Superpages, Yelp, WhiteSpark, Manta, eLocal, Brownbook, Yellow Pages, and many more. It can be time-consuming to make sure you’re listed consistently across all directories. Furthermore, it’s helpful to have your content optimized to ensure people can find you under your choice of keywords.

At Internet Local Listings, we’d be happy to help you out with this entire process, getting you listed across all directories and small business listings. Whether you choose to use the info you’ve found here and give it a go on your own, or you’d like us to help you with your marketing efforts, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article in our Back to Basics series!

 

Read more Back to Basics for Small Businesses:
1. What is SEO?
2. What is Social Media?
3. What is Organic Ranking?
4. Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm
5.  Blogging for Beginners

Back to Basics #4: Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm

why you need a digital marketing firm
A digital marketing firm can help you reach your target market.

It used to be that a company could place an ad in the Yellowpages or the newspaper and almost immediately see their marketing efforts paying off. But those days have drawn to a close. In order to keep up with marketing in 2014 and beyond, you need to get your business online. Websites allow customers to find services and products at any time of day, and it gives you a chance to make a great impression before anyone even walks in your door.

Think about it: TV shows and music can be streamed online. Blogs and social networks deliver relevant, recent news and interesting articles. You can even read your favorite books on electronic devices. And when you search for a product that you need, where do you go first—to the phone book or to your favorite search engine? We bet you go online and search for services. So it makes sense that as a small business owner, you need to be where your customers are—online. But there’s one problem: Once you’ve set up your website, how do you make sure that your customers are finding you online?

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. A great digital marketing firm can mean the difference between customers finding your business instead of your competitor when they search online.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Guide You

At Internet Local Listings, we know a lot about digital marketing. After all, it’s what we do—we work hard to get our clients’ websites visible across the web. We understand the ins and outs of local listings, boosting Google rankings, utilizing social media marketing, and building links. This is something that you, as a small business owner, probably don’t know a lot about. And that’s fine—you’re an expert on running your business, and you need to make sure you stay on top of those responsibilities.

What a digital marketing firm can do is help you run your business more efficiently. We’ll work with you to make sure your business is presented the way you want it to be. We’ll make sure your social media accounts are reflecting your desire to connect with customers. And we’ll be happy to let you participate in whichever way you feel comfortable. That way you can focus on running your company while we channel you passion for your business into a more prominent online presence.

digital marketing diagram
There’s a lot that goes into digital marketing! We can help you understand.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Save You Money

Have you ever tried to advertise your business online? Maybe you bought ads on Facebook or Google, or maybe you paid to have your website listed somewhere. Whatever the case may be, if you’ve thrown money out the window on failed advertising endeavors, you may be feeling frustrated or even hopeless. But don’t worry. You can still market to your customers and not spend a fortune.

A digital marketing firm like Internet Local Listings can help you spend your marketing budget in the right way. There’s no need to pay for expensive advertisements that aren’t guaranteed to work. With packages starting at just $199 a month, Internet Local Listings has some of the best prices available on top-quality digital marketing services. Packages are customizable and you can get involved to any extent you feel comfortable. Want to send us pictures to use on your social media? Go ahead. Want to write your own content for a custom website? We’ll be happy to assist you (it’ll still need to be optimized!). Just let us know and we will be happy to work with you.

By working with a digital marketing firm, you’ll see real results. Putting ads up on Facebook or Google is a short-term solution to drive curious people to your website. But getting your website in front of your audience organically is much more worthwhile and a wiser investment in the long run, because it costs less and has a much wider impact.

A Digital Marketing Firm Can Connect You to Your Community

Small businesses are generally not concerned with appealing to customers all over the world. Small business owners tend to sell to local customers. From word of mouth advertising to old-fashioned window displays, local companies have different methods of capturing the attention of their customers. That is great—but to get a leg up on your competitors, you’re going to want to be on the front page of popular search engines as well.

That’s where a digital marketing firm comes in. We can get you listed all across the internet and help you rank higher in search engine results so that you can connect with your customers. Even better, you’ll rank organically in local searches. That means that when people in your town (or nearby towns) search for a service that you provide, your name will pop up. They’ll be able to find your store address and hours, and that makes it easy for them to contact you or to drop by to shop.

Why not cover all your advertising bases with digital marketing services? Increase website traffic and your web presence, and you’re well on your way to being found instead of your competitors. Call or visit Internet Local Listings today to speak with our digital marketing firm about your small business advertising needs.

 

How to Find the Best SEO Services for Small Business

seo services for small business
Even if you’re a company with two employees, you can afford effective SEO services for a small business.

If you’ve found your way to our blog, you’re probably doing research on how to find the best SEO services for small business. Chances are that you’re a small business owner yourself—or maybe family or friends are local business owners. Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place. Internet Local Listings is an SEO company with over fifty years of combined experience in the internet marketing industry. And throughout the years, we’ve helped small businesses just like yours increase traffic to their websites.

Before you invest in an internet marketing company, there are a few things you should consider. At Internet Local Listings, we’d be honored to have the chance to show you just how we can help your company be seen online. But how do you know you’re choosing the best SEO services for a small business?

Must-Have SEO Services for Small Business

The company will get you listed across the internet. One of the most important things for a small business is to be found in local listings and directories. This means that your company name should pop up in places like Yahoo listings, Manta, Whitepages, Brownbook, and so on. The more places your company name, address, and phone number appear, the better chance your customers have to find you no matter which directory they choose to use. Think of it as the new way to use the yellow pages.

You’re being provided with a social media platform to reach your customers. In this day and age, everyone is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a number of other social media sites. If you don’t have a strong social media presence online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with customers—and you’re probably losing sales, too. A good SEO company will build social media platforms tailored to your company so that your customers and find and interact with you online.

You’re seeing fresh content and updates. If your company offers custom-created content for you, it should be updated on a regular basis. Not all websites have blogs, however, and if this is the case for your small business, you should at least make sure that your website is up-to-date and your social media sites are serving as a mode of timely communication with your customers.

The company offers a website package. A company offering custom-tailored SEO services for small businesses should have a website option. Many small business owners don’t know how to build a site, much less have time to update it regularly. Internet marketing companies need to understand this to be able to cater to a small business’s needs. Be wary of the SEO service that doesn’t work with you to make sure you have a great website.

The company doesn’t promise the moon and stars. This sounds negative, but it really isn’t. SEO is a complicated business— and because of this, many small business owners don’t understand the ins and outs of the industry. And that’s fine. After all, that’s why you’re hiring the pros! However, it’s important that you arm yourself with basic knowledge of how the marketing process should work. It’ll save you the heartache of partnering with people who don’t understand how to work with a small business, or worse, a company that promises to deliver everything when really, there’s no magic formula to get everything working in a short amount of time. Plus, it will instill realistic expectations and the patience you need in order to work with the pros so that they can get the results you’re looking for.

The long and short of it is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You can’t expect results that blow your competition out of the water overnight. It’s simply impossible to pull off!

How to Know if You’re Working with an Honest SEO Company

Now that you know what the best SEO services for small business should offer, how do you know if the company you’re working with is being honest and upfront about your account? How do you know if you’re investing in a successful long-term plan, or if you’re being taken for a ride?

An honest SEO company will get you listed in local directories immediately and then go to work on other marketing services—blogging, building a site, setting up a social media platform, etc. Ranking will come in time. An SEO company can set everything up the way Google likes, but Google will take its sweet time combing through data and reorganizing search results. You will see your hard work pay off in a first-page ranking—but it takes time.

That being said, if your SEO company promises to get you ranking in 30 days for any keyword, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be sorely disappointed. At Internet Local Listings, we can get you ranking in 60 days or less for two keywords—and sometimes more! Even though this might sound paltry to a small business owner who has never invested in SEO, this is a realistic and effective goal. Ranking for only two keywords at Internet Local Listings, we’re confident that we can get you real results you can see in a reasonable amount of time.

An honest SEO company will also tell you if things aren’t working out as planned. At this juncture, you can work together with the SEO service to tweak keywords, or you might choose to find other ways of getting your name out there. With high-competition industries it can take a bit more legwork, but you will still see results if you stick with it. There’s no magic formula to success, so you have to be flexible and think long-term for the best results! A dishonest company will not want to put the time in to work with you on these things. Don’t let this happen to you.

Choose Internet Local Listings for SEO Services for Small Business!

Whether you’re looking for a simple small business SEO package or you’d like something a little more in-depth, we have it all at Internet Local Listings. We hope you enjoyed this post, and we would be honored to take care of your small business’s marketing needs. Simply fill out the contact form or give us a call at (888) 770-3950! See how our affordable SEO services for small business can help you.

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.

Back to Basics #2: What is Social Media?

What is Social Media? Globe showing social media platforms.
What is social media? There are so many platforms to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming for a small business owner.

Note: If you’re a social media expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

Want more beginner tips? Read Back to Basics #1: What is SEO

And be sure to follow our blog for posts delivered to your inbox!

What is Social Media?

If you own your own business, you’ve probably been told that you need to set up social media accounts. And while you’re probably already familiar with Facebook and YouTube, you might not know a lot about Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google Plus. In fact, you might think that some of these platforms have nothing to do with your company or are completely useless in your advertising and marketing efforts.

Well, you would be wrong.

Social media is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage in your advertising campaign. In this post, we’ll talk a bit about what social media actually is, as well as how some of the top platforms can benefit your company—even if you run a small local business.

The Hidden Value of Sharing Content

Simply put, social media is text, images, and videos that can be easily shared across a public platform. It’s a bit like email—you can write your thoughts, include some pretty pictures, and send it off. However, unlike email, social media enables you to share your thoughts and media with everyone across your network at once. And those people can share it with people in their network, and so on and so forth. Plus, you can reach people who you never would have via email!

Are you starting to see now just how valuable this can be for advertising?

You’ve probably heard about certain things going “viral”: Grumpy cat, auto-tuned newscasts, and dancing babies are just a few of the contenders. All the publicity that these folks got originally came through social media sharing.

In other words, it was pretty much free.

Now, we can’t all expect to be the next big internet sensation, but we can use social media to increase customer engagement, gain free advertising, and promote a positive brand image. By understanding the power that social media holds for your company, you will be able to give yourself a leg up on your competition.

How Does this Benefit a Small Business?

Okay, so you’re on board with the idea of signing up for social media accounts now. That’s great! But before you go out and create 15 profiles, let’s talk a bit about the platforms we offer at Internet Local Listings, and take a look at the pros and cons of each. We won’t discuss the other platforms in this article.

First, not every company is built the same way. And not every social media platform will be perfect for every company. In other words, what works for a cupcake bakery probably won’t yield the same results for a roofing contractor.

Second, you should note that managing these accounts takes time and effort—so only sign up for the accounts you think will benefit you the most. You can easily become overwhelmed trying to maintain your accounts, and if you’re not doing a good job keeping up with your customers via social media, you’re not going to be getting the most out of your efforts.

The Platforms We Offer

Facebook Logo
Facebook is a great way for small businesses to connect with local customers.

Image courtesy of: http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/04/17/facebook-launches-optional-nearby-friends-feature-android-ios/

 

Facebook: Facebook is, hands down, the most widely used social media platform in the world. With over 757 million (yes, million) daily users, Facebook has a wide reach and is an untapped advertising source for many small business owners.

The pros of signing up for Facebook:

  • It’s easy to learn to use—you probably already have a personal account, and running a business page isn’t much more complicated than using a personal profile.
  • It’s free to sign up, and you’ll never have to pay a dime to run your own professional business page if you don’t want to. You can pay to advertise if you so choose, but you’re never going to be forced to purchase anything.
  • Facebook’s reach goes as far as you want it to, but it also has a strong local presence. You can build your network as you see fit for your company.

The cons of singing up for Facebook:

  • It’s oversaturated. Its biggest strength can also be a weakness, particularly for a small business or a new face on the internet. A Facebook page can be difficult to grow from scratch, and the companies who already have an established customer base tend to do the best.
  • Changes in Facebook algorithms mean that paid content is seen more frequently than free content. Basically, because Facebook went public, they’re finding more ways to make money. One of the biggest ways they’ve found is to have users “boost” posts by paying to ensure the content they share is seen by more people. If you don’t want to pay, there’s a bigger chance your content will be swallowed by the paid content.

So who benefits from Facebook?

Although established businesses tend to fare better, starting a Facebook page is an easy and effective way to engage your existing clients as well as inform potential customers about your products. It’s also highly valued by Google and can rank right under your own website—so even if you don’t see much point in sharing updates on Facebook, we’d recommend that every company sign up, even if only for the ranking benefits.

Twitter logo
Twitter can provide a global network for small businesses to engage with.

Image courtesy of: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/internet/79423-top-twitter-users-in-south-africa.html

Twitter: Twitter is probably the most understood social media platform that we offer for our clients. The reason for the confusion is that most small businesses hear about the “trivial” things posted on Twitter—what you had for lunch, a selfie, a dog doing a headstand (okay, that’s actually pretty impressive, right?). What they don’t know is that, when used properly, it can be a rapidly-growing social network, and it offers extremely fast and efficient content sharing. Sharing media on Twitter is practically mindless—one click of a button and you’ve sent off a “tweet” that you find interesting to your followers. They can tweet it to their followers, and so on. You only have 140 characters to work with, though, so you’ll have to get creative.

The pros of signing up for Twitter:

  • Twitter is easy to use and extremely efficient. You can connect with like-minded people quickly and engage in brief, to-the-point conversations.
  • Twitter was made to share links. If you tweet your blog posts or share a photo on Twitter, people will click. It’s very effective to boost page visits.
  • Although there’s a lot of bad content, it’s easily drowned out. Twitter moves fast. Don’t like what a person has to say? Block them or mute them and they’ll disappear from your feed. Want to amplify a positive voice? Retweet that person or tell your followers to follow them. Being social is easy on Twitter.

The cons of signing up for Twitter:

  • There is a lot of self-promotion on Twitter. Yes, you have signed up to promote your business, but the point of social media is to engage. If you’re out there screaming about how you have the best lawn fertilizer in all of Texas over and over again every day, people are going to unfollow you. Finding that balance between self-promotion and sharing can be tricky for newcomers.
  • It tends to be widespread. If you’re looking to connect locally, Twitter might not be the best place to advertise. People on Twitter tend to network from around the globe. Furthermore, most people you meet will probably be other business owners, and you’ll have to find a way to connect with them in a positive way.
  • As mentioned above, it’s brief. It can be frustrating to try to make an impactful statement in 140 characters or less!

So who benefits from Twitter?

We truly believe that almost any company can use Twitter to their advantage. Local contractors can connect with suppliers and other people in their industry. Spas can connect with big-name beauty brands and clients. Artists can network with other artists to promote their work. With a little bit of creativity, you can build a network that helps you in your marketing endeavors.

What is Social Media to you?

There’s a lot of time and energy involved in running a social media campaign—setting it up, scheduling regular updates, networking, answering customer concerns, and running promotions. And we only touched on the two platforms we offer for our clients at Internet Local Listings—there are certainly others to explore. What does your time and money mean to you? Are you ready to take the plunge?

If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook and Twitter or you’d like to hire social media professionals to maintain your accounts for you, simply contact Internet Local Listings here. We’d be glad to discuss your social media goals with you!