5 Ways to Reach More Fans on Facebook

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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.

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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

leadership-men
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.

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.

Back to Basics #21: Thinking Outside the Social Media Box

thinking-outside-the-social-media-box

While there are tried-and-true methods to growing your social media following and keeping your customers connected through social media, sometimes your efforts seem to stagnate. Maybe you hit a stride of nice growth, but then discovered that it plateaued. Or maybe you’ve been on a steady climb, and still see growth happening, but really want to push your social media presence to the next level. Whatever it is, you’re ready to try something a bit bolder, a bit louder, and a bit more… well, scary. It’s out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to avoid it. Let’s talk a bit about what you can do to start thinking outside the social media box and really getting into your stride as a business owner and marketer!

start-making-friends

Find A Few Friends.

No, we don’t mean find a few friends like the ones you’re already following back, or the ones who are related to you. (Even if your mom is always going to be your #1 fan… sorry, mom.)

What we mean is, find the big names in your industry and connect with them.

Take the time to do a little research around your type of company—who is active on social media? Is there a particularly interesting website or blog that you could start following? Whose name frequently gets brought up in the news? Once you’ve found these people, start paying attention to what they’re doing. They’re obviously a credible resource for a reason, and that’s more than likely because they interact with fans, provide valuable content, and frequently update their blog and/or social media sites. You’re probably trying to do all this already, but when you have a role model to emulate, things get that much easier.

Here are some more helpful tips to try once you’ve found a few new friends:

Do:

  • Retweet/share/pin their articles.
  • Leave a friendly compliment or start a helpful discussion on their blog posts.
  • Ask them for their opinion on something in your niche.

Don’t:

  • Engage with controversial topics with them.
  • Subtweet (that is, tweeting about someone else without actually tagging them) snarky comments or get upset if they don’t respond to you.
  • Blast anyone publicly if they don’t agree with you.

dummies-self-promotion

Advertise less.

We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the point of social media to help me with marketing and advertising? Why would I want to advertise less?”

Well, because without even being aware of it, you might actually be driving away people with constant self-promotion.

Basically, social media has its own set of etiquette and rules—in fact, each platform tends to have different etiquette standards and rules for connecting with fans. For instance, on Twitter, it’s acceptable to post many times in a day—it’s fast paced and the information is kept brief, as well as generally unobtrusive. Facebook, on the other hand, tends to show big posts with pictures and videos, and to see a stream of media from the same person or company is aggravating to many users. But if there’s one thing all platforms have in common, it’s this:

It’s a big no-no to constantly advertise your own services.

To keep people from getting irked with your updates, you should always follow the 80/20 rule: Post 80% other content—like industry news, other followers’ posts, etc.–and 20% your own content.

Here are some helpful ways you can implement this idea:

  • Don’t make your advertising posts hard pitches; i.e., “Click here to buy dog food now!” Instead, keep it light and craft an interesting title to entice click-throughs: “The #1 best thing you can feed your dog: It’s cheaper than you think.”
  • Link back to older blog articles. If you have a content marketing schedule, go ahead and tie that in with Twitter, Facebook, and whichever other sites you use. You worked hard on your old posts—so be sure to link them again! This doesn’t make it seem like you’re “selling” anything, but you’re still directing traffic back to your site.

good-job-note

Show off your reviews.

We’ve talked before about how important reviews are for ranking. But reviews aren’t only important for this reason—they’re also a leading influence on how customers perceive your business, as well as how customers choose which business to support. According to a 2013 survey from Bright Local, 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more. [Edit: Here is the updated 2014 survey!] That’s no small number—so it makes sense that you should promote the ones you have!

This should fall under the same guidelines of self-promotion, however. Constantly linking your reviews comes off as spammy and self-absorbed. When you’re on social media, you want to present an honest picture of who you are and what your business is about. Occasionally linking a new review and thanking the customer for their time is a good practice to get into—and it’s not going to make you look bad.

Try these helpful tips the next time you link your reviews:

  • Place a few testimonials on your site. If you can, take them directly from the source and link back. Testimonials without links seem fake to many visitors—so take that worry off their minds by citing your sources (just like you did in those pesky term papers!).
  • Publicly respond to any bad reviews you receive (unless they are abusive; then it’s best to just report or ignore them). By doing this, you show that you care about your customers’ experiences and are willing to listen to their complaints and concerns.

stay positive

And finally…

Whether you own a small home-based business or run a local chain of businesses, it’s in your best interest to keep a positive attitude. It can get discouraging to to run your own social media sites, and we get that. In fact, we wrote an article about how to handle these feelings of discouragement! But when everything stacks against you and it seems like nothing you’re doing is working, remind yourself that this all takes time. Brainstorm ways you can get your voice heard. Talk to friends, family, customers, and other business owners to see what they recommend. Be willing to learn from mistakes and go that extra mile. In the end, you will make progress if you keep trying, and keep an open mind while at it.

Got any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

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!

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!

How to Increase Customer Engagement for Your Small Business


increase customer engagement for small businesses

If you’re a small business owner, there’s a big chance you’ve heard the term “customer engagement.” Depending on your level of experience in managing an online storefront, you may not have a clear picture of what it means to have customers “fully” engaged. To some business owners, a highly-engaged customer simply means someone who visits your store—whether in person or online—and purchases a product or service from you. To others, this term means that a customer would have to purchase and come back to use your services again, or perhaps be involved with your website or social media accounts in some way. And it’s true that for different industries, customer engagement will be different: i.e., if you’re a concrete contractor, you’re not going to expect the same return service as a boutique or thrift store. So how can you determine the best way to improve customer engagement for your company?

Know Your Clientele

This is the best answer, but unfortunately,  it’s also very complicated. You may know the basic needs of your clients, but you might be surprised at how in-depth you can really get with the details. For example, if you’re a boutique specializing in women’s clothing, you already know that women are going to shop at your store more often than men. But do you know finer details, such as income level, interests, hobbies, and spending habits? Getting your customers more engaged with your store requires a little bit of research, as well as some finesse in gathering this type of data.

The good news is that social media is the perfect answer to this dilemma. According to a survey done by Avaya’s Autonomous Customer Research, 82% of customers prefer multi-channel engagements—meaning not only do they want to visit you face-to-face in your store, but they probably want to connect with you via email, Facebook, Twitter, or on another social media channel. But why do customers enjoy this?

Simple. They can get all the information they need from the comfort of their own homes. They can stay caught up with your sales and special offers simply by “liking” you or following you online. Don’t you think you owe it to your customers to help them stay connected to your brand in such a convenient way?

How to Improve Customer Engagement

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to choose a few social media networks that you want to maintain. Keep in mind that this is a time-intensive endeavor—if you want results, you’ll have to be willing to spend at least several hours a week dedicated to this part of the process.

That’s why it’s important to just choose a few networks that you know appeal to your clientele. There are so many out there that it would be next to impossible to maintain your presence across each one. Whether you choose Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr, you’ll have to find your strengths and play to them. That being said, here are a few tips to help you increase customer engagement across any social media networks:

  1. Create relationships, not “hard sells”. You are a sales pro, no doubt. But the way you approach customers online is not the same way you’d approach them in the store. People come to your site to browse at home—let them do so in peace.
  2. Make it easy for customers to find you. You could have the best business in the world, but if your customers can’t find you on the web, they’re not going to be calling. Make sure you are ranking on the first page for a set of targeted keywords. Customize your social media profiles with easy-to-find-and-follow links to your site. Finally, be sure your contact information is available. Customers like knowing that they can contact you if they need to.
  3. Provide relevant updates. Customers like to know what your company is up to, but they also enjoy related topics. If you’re a salon, try updating about the latest hair trends. If you’re a contractor, talk about seasonal updates that homeowners can benefit from.
  4. Update frequently. This is a common mistake. Oftentimes, people assume “if you build it, they will come.” This is far from true in the fast-paced world of internet marketing. You need to not only build a strong foundation, but you also need to keep adding to it. Aim to update your site’s blog at least one time a week, if not more. Update Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn once a day. You don’t have to spend hours crafting a post, but try to keep clients engaged with your site through quality, fresh content.
  5. Respond to criticism. But do so politely. If you have a negative review, evaluate what the customer has to say. Publicly address it so others know that you recognize and care about a customer’s experience. Which brings us to our next topic…

Dealing with Angry Customers

It is not fun to deal with, but it happens to the best of us. You will have angry customers and you will have to find a way to respond to them without looking unprofessional. The best way to do this is to find legitimate complaints and politely respond as you would to a customer in your store. If the complaints are abusive, slanderous, or are coming from someone impersonating your company, you can report them to the appropriate person. Keep on top of this—you don’t want to leave unprofessional or negative comments around!

Want to hire the pros?

Did you know that companies who have a fully-engaged customer base see a 23% average increase in revenue? There are so many reasons you should be online and engaging with your customers—but if you’ve decided it’s just too much of a time investment, you can always hire the pros. Visit Internet Local Listings to see our variety of online marketing packages, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to set up an account. We’d love to help you increase customer engagement and get your site ranking!