Using social media is no longer an option–it’s practically a requirement for small businesses who want to connect with their customers. While the tools change almost daily, the goal stays the same: interact with customers and create trust. If you’re late to the bandwagon (or just want the latest), start here.
We now know that not every age group uses social media the same, and it’s important to know where your target market falls. For example, the 35-44 year old span uses Facebook and Twitter the most, while teens have twice as many social friends as this group. Knowing that the average social network user is 37 years old can be helpful when planning your social media marketing strategy.
Does your business even need a website anymore? Many say that a solid Facebook Page can serve the purpose of a static website, with better results. The key is to keep it interesting and continually expand your network. And where you might push your product on your website, a hard sell is less well-received on a Facebook Page.
Despite the flurry of social media contests, they may not be as effective as marketers want to believe. Giving away something for free makes it difficult to target the people that enter, and simply having someone Like your Facebook wall or retweet a message isn’t all that valuable, says Social Times. People who enter social media contests aren’t likely to stick around after the contest is over, so think it through the next time you want to give away an iPad to get more customers.
Managing Your Reputation Online
Your reputation is no longer in your own hands; it’s now in the hands of your customers. And if they’re not happy, there are dozens of places they can complain about you. The key is to monitor and manage what’s being said about you online, and remain transparent in your response. What not to do? Don’t argue with your customer, and don’t fake positive reviews of your business.
When you do get a bad review online, take appropriate steps to address the issue. First, contact the customer and see if you can amend the situation one on one. Then, apologize, remembering that the customer is never more right than when they’ve publicly blasted you. A free product or gift card can go a long way to soothe ruffled feathers. Next, ask the customer to repost a revised review, considering the efforts you’ve made toward amending the situation.
SEO Best Practices
Even if you’re a newbie to search engine optimization, you should still use analytics to better understand where traffic to your site is coming from. Free tools like Google Analytics go a long way in telling you what pages people like, how much traffic you’re getting, and what keywords draw in the most visitors. Analytics should be a part of your overall internet marketing strategy, as you can see which tools are working the best.
Are your keywords outdated? If so, you’re missing out on higher rankings on search engine results. Freshening up your keywords to what’s being searched for now can go a long way to put you in Google’s favour. Use your analytics (see above) to make sure your new keywords are getting the traffic you want.
Where Google+ Will Fall
With so many social media users and business owners still on the fence about Google+, many ask how Google will weigh search results using its social site. Will Google give higher priority to content produced through Google+? If so, it’s sure to lose users faster than Google Buzz or Wave. After such social failures, Google would do well to tread lightly.
Despite the question of whether Google will turn to a despot with the adoption of Google+, Chris Brogan says to jump on the bandwagon anyway. By connecting with others on the platform, small businesses can expand their networks, even if Google+ isn’t quite ready to roll out business profiles.
When David Meerman Scott wrote his book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, in 2007, social media was innovative. If you were using it, you were light years ahead of the competition. Now, the gap is closing, with more companies using social tools to market. But small businesses are still behind, with around half not using social media at all. It’s not clear why so many are reluctant to get social, but Scott provides some tips for getting started. The key, he says, is sharing valuable content and avoiding hype. Focus instead on how your products can help others.