5 Ways to Reach More Fans on Facebook

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

Quotes with photos

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

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

Don’t forget your CTA button

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

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

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

Get used to reading negative feedback

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

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

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

Don’t be afraid to change things up

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

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

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

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

cartoon-robot
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

studying
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.

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.

New Social Media Trends You’ll See in 2015

As the year 2014 draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to a nice, relaxing holiday. And it’s well deserved–2014 was a busy year for us! But for marketers? Marketers tend to struggle with letting their brains completely relax, and so are already looking ahead to 2015 and analyzing social media trends to figure out how to plan an even better marketing strategy.

So let’s talk about marketing with social media. What can we expect to see in 2015?

While we don’t think we will be seeing tons of innovation (more on that below), we will see an increase in what’s already becoming popular: More visual content and more mobile content. Let’s take a look at some examples:

E-Commerce will take off

E-Commerce
E-commerce will explode in 2015.

 

Image courtesy of Mashable.com

Earlier in the year, Facebook and Twitter began playing around with “buy” buttons that appeared alongside content. This made it so that users could easily make purchases with just a few clicks, and they’d never even have to leave the network.

And guess what? It seems they’re doing pretty well with it.

You can expect this to continue into 2015, with many advertisers pushing hard to integrate this strategy in the top social media sites. By sticking that button in there, it not only increases the likelihood that someone will purchase something from your website, it also gives hard sales numbers for analysts to keep exact track of data. Before, this wasn’t possible. And considering that currently, over half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, you can see why it makes marketers so giddy. So if you want to be on top of the e-commerce trend, you’re definitely going to be ready to implement these changes in the coming year.

Social media marketing will be even more popular

Social_Media_Marketing
Do you have a content strategy? You’d better be promoting it with social media!

 

Content strategy was a central theme to marketing in 2014. And guess what? It’s going to be sticking around for 2015. But this time around, marketers are going to press for a content strategy by leaning heavily on social media distribution.

What does that mean? Basically, there were a lot of companies that created content in 2014, but a good percentage of them didn’t bother to amplify this content through social media channels. And to be honest, that’s just silly. Promoting your content through popular social media platforms should be your primary goal in terms of content marketing. Your reach and visibility is greatly increased through social media. If you need more proof, you can read more here, here, or here. Take your pick 🙂

You’re going to see even more new networks

elephants-being-social
“Come on, Peanuts! JOIN US!”

 

Yes, we know, we said right away in the article that there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of innovation. So you might be wondering: If this is the case, then how can there be so many new social networks popping up? Ello, Yik Yak, and many others have burst onto the scene, so what gives?

Well, there’s always going to be someone new, someone trying to take a slice of the pie that is already being shared between social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But will they last? Many of these new sites promise true privacy (and this is a draw to many with all the recent privacy breaches), but even if they deliver, it’s still incredibly difficult to make a dent in the already over-saturated social media scene. A large number of new social media platforms end up feeling incredibly empty and lonely, which directly goes against the primary reason people use social media in the first place: to be social!

So while you’re going to see lots of new, shiny sites to sign up for, don’t worry too much about being on top of every new trend: Many aren’t going to last. It’s still worth it to be aware of the trends, though!

Have you noticed any other social media trends that you think are going to be big in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!

Back to Basics #18: When Should You Automate Updates?

scheduling-updates

We’ve talked before about how you can take a load off your shoulders by scheduling your social media and blog updates. But, as with any automated services, there’s a point where you need to draw the line. Your followers and fans don’t want to interact with a robot, after all—they’re there because they enjoy what YOU have to offer.

So how do you know when to automate your blog posts and social media updates, and when to interact with your fans?

Automate for hours you aren’t awake.

Sure, it’s not the perfect time to post at 3 am on Twitter—not for everyone, anyway. But many businesses have customers who reside on the other side of the pond—and they’re awake during those hours. So it’s a good idea to schedule a few tweets to go out when those other eyes will fall on your page. As for platforms like Facebook and Google+, it’s best to figure out when you get the most interaction. For many people, the best hours are earlier in the day, local time. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily have to automate your updates. However, you might choose to do so if you know you’re going to be forgetful about it!

Going to be busy or out of town all weekend? Automate your updates.

Of course it’s ideal that you be around to interact with your fans and followers no matter how busy you are. But the reality of life is that we have to unplug every once in a while.

But just because you’re gone doesn’t mean that you can’t still engage your audience. By scheduling a few posts to pop out when you’re away, your fans will still be able to see what you’re up to, the content you want to share with them, and products that they might want to buy.

Keep a balance of 80/20: 80% promoting other people, 20% marketing your own products.

People don’t like to see a constant stream of advertisements coming from the accounts they choose to follow. If the only updates you ever offer are hard sales pitches, you’ll find that your social media presence and blog subscriptions are going to go nowhere fast. A good way to keep this balance is to schedule some retweets or shares during the day. This way you can be sure that you’re still contributing to discussions without coming off as overly sales-y.

Reuse old posts—schedule them to pop out at some time in the future.

What do you do with old blog posts? Well, as long as the content is “evergreen” (meaning that you could read it three years from now and it’d still be helpful), you can schedule the posts to pop out in the future.

For example, let’s say you write an article about cleaning your gutters yourself. This is probably the most useful in the fall, but that’s not to say it can’t be helpful at other times of the year! Posting it once every few months across your social networks can help drive traffic back to your site. By scheduling them in advance, you won’t have to think too much about it, or try to remember a few months down the road. It’ll already be ready for you!

homer-simpson-doh

When should you NOT automate your updates?

  • When dealing with customer service–people want responses from humans, not robots.
  • When you have a fan or follower trying to get an answer to a specific question. For example, “How long is your sale going to be on?” shouldn’t elicit a response based on the fact that a person contacted you (i.e., “thanks for connecting!”), or worse—radio silence.
  • During a time of national crisis. Too many brands have forgotten to take off their scheduled tweets or updates during an unexpected crisis, and as a result, they came across as insensitive—even callous. Even if your company’s services have nothing to do with the crisis at hand, sometimes it’s just best to stay silent for a little while.
  • When someone follows you (this is primarily geared toward Twitter users). When you follow someone on Twitter and they send you an automated direct message welcoming you (or asking you to buy something), how does it make you feel? Annoyed? Yeah, it probably doesn’t really make you want to interact with the person. So don’t do this to your followers. Send a personal greeting if you like, but whatever you do, don’t spam them.

What do you think? Do you automate your posts? When should someone avoid scheduling updates? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Small Business Marketing is Essential in 2014 and Beyond

small-business-marketing-in-2014
In 2014 and beyond, how can small business marketing benefit your company?

Getting the word out about your business has always been your top priority. As a small business owner, you already understand how important marketing is—whether it’s word of mouth, fliers, direct marketing, or running local advertising campaigns, you know that you have to get the word out or your numbers suffer. But what many small business owners don’t take into consideration is a marketing plan. And without some type of marketing strategy, you’ll likely become frustrated, not knowing whether your efforts are paying off.

This is the primary reason that small business marketing is now non-negotiable. In 2014, we have a number of options to help us determine how and where to market to our clients: social media, blogs, video marketing, online local business listings, Google Places, and more. With all of these tools at our disposal, is there any excuse not to have a marketing plan in place?

No, there isn’t. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about why small business marketing is essential in 2014 and beyond. When you understand just how effective marketing is for your business, you’ll have a better foundation to grasp the concepts of beginning your own marketing campaign.

Small business marketing is the only way to get the word out.

word-of-mouth-marketing
Get the word out about your business!

You’ve heard of companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple. Why is that? Because they have a massive consumer base and they have massive marketing budgets. Their ads are fed to you frequently to ensure you know what the company is up to, and they make sure that their products stay up-to-date and relevant.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, I don’t have that kind of money to spend on an advertising campaign!” and you’re probably right. Most small business marketing budgets are scant. And that’s okay. You don’t need a ton of money to start seeing returns on your efforts. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, you can implement social marketing strategies for very little money, and you can get started with blogging completely free of charge. The best thing about this type of marketing is that you can begin to spend money whenever you like to boost your efforts. Want to place an ad on Facebook? You can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your business. Want to pay for a domain name and host your blog as a website? For less than $20, you can grab a domain name, and hosting can be as low as $3-5 a month. There’s no reason you must feel like you are required to spend thousands of dollars just to be seen online.

When you get the word out with small business marketing, you begin to build your audience online. And that’s the #1 most important thing.

In 2014, traditional networking is still important.

traditional-marketing
A traditional marketing plan is still helpful for local small businesses.

Networking. It sounds like a buzzword, and to some extent, that’s what it’s become. That aside, you should never underestimate the power of networking. If you go to local business expos, connect with influencers on Twitter and Facebook, and simply ask your customers to refer you to friends and family, then you’re already networking. If you’re not networking and these activities don’t sound like they’ll increase your sales, then think of it this way: you’re building a strong reputation and a sturdy foundation of support and availability for your clients. And that is absolutely essential.

The easiest way to get started is to simply ask your customers to review you on Yelp and Google. This has the added bonus of sending “relevancy” signals to Google, helping you to rank higher. Many customers would be happy to submit positive reviews when asked, but they often don’t bother to go online and leave reviews otherwise.

You can also get started on Facebook and Twitter for free. Place signs around your office or store that tell customers where they can find you online. Ask friends and family to spread the word. None of this will cost you a thing, except maybe an hour or two of your time to craft the signs!

Are press releases outdated? Nope. Not even close.

making-a-list-of-blog-topics
Sharpen your press release skills.

Spread the word about newsworthy business developments: A new product, a sale, or a special event your company is attending or hosting. Try to send out a press release once a month to keep the word about your company relevant and fresh. This can cost money if you choose to promote your company online—you can pay anywhere from $120 to upwards of $250 to have your press release promoted on popular sites. But you don’t have to do this. Small business marketing is all about leveraging your local connections. Talk to your local newspaper or ask to be on the news or featured on a radio show. You can talk about your new products or even offer customers a special discount if they mention your interview or article. By doing this regularly, you can easily make a good impression on your local community.

The new way of connecting to customers: Videos.

YouTube logo small business
Small businesses should be making visual media–including videos.

Many small businesses specialize in a specific, niche service: Plumbing, dog grooming, notary services, etc. Think of how you felt when you first started learning about your industry. You probably felt overwhelmed and looked to professionals for guidance. Or consider how you feel when you want to save money and try to take care of things yourself—fixing a pipe or cleaning your roof, for instance. Many people look up tutorials now on YouTube.

This might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers learn how to help themselves, but it is actually a great way for your customers and company to share a dialogue. It establishes you as an authority figure and expert in your industry. Plus, taking the time to create a video tutorial for your customers shows that you spend time thinking of their needs—and customers truly appreciate that. Finally, videos on YouTube, when properly optimized, send strong relevancy signals to search engines, and that helps your website rank higher.

And there you have it. Small business marketing is essential in 2014. You need to network to connect with clients. You need to create content to stay relevant on search engines. You need to connect with customers in new and innovative ways. As the internet grows more content-based, your small business will have to keep on top of these trends to ensure your customers are still finding you.

If you need assistance with any small business marketing services, Internet Local Listings is always here to help. Simply contact us here or visit our site for more information. We have a special running right now, too—so act fast and save money while you start bringing in more customers!

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

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!