Archive | April, 2012

Why Every Business Should Be Blogging!

30 Apr

Internet has become a medium of interaction between its users through blogging. Through blogging, people can share their thoughts, opinions and perceptions about a certain thing, place, event, etc. For modern day businesses, it has become the sellers’ way to reach target customers. They create blog sites of their own to advertise and promote products or services. It is important for these blog articles to be reader-friendly and can get every reader’s interest.

In blogging, it is not just to advertise and promote but to gain friends as well. If you are able to write blogs that can attract readers, they are sure to read more works; and through that, you are building interaction between you and your readers. It will become easier for you to promote and sell your products. Why? It is because you and your blog are being trusted by them. It is like being friends with your readers. Blogging offers a mean of communication.  It gives a business blogger an opportunity to show his works and to be known by people. The connection being built through blogging can be strong as long as the internet is present. By creating useful articles about a certain product that you are selling, you are increasing your business’ credibility.

Blogging is not just writing about something. It requires a good research and writer must be well informed about the topic he is writing– especially when writing about a product that he wishes to sell. SEO helps a lot in creating traffic to your website through blogging. You can put links to your blogs directing to your website that features your products.

Getting more attention and readers

Social networking sites can help a lot in getting more attention and traffic for your blogs. You can use these social media sites in blogging by simply sharing your blog posts to your friends and other people. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, YouTube and other social media sites can help you with blogging by posting links, searchable keywords or tags that will direct to your website.

Slightly controversial posts can attract more readers. This way, you can converse with your readers by entertaining comments, queries and suggestions. Make it always a healthy conversation. You can put trivia about the product or service you are offering.  While blogging about your products, you can make contests, promos, giveaways and offer freebies to the readers who will like or repost your post or blog. In this way, when others share your posts, you can gain more traffic and attention from other readers.

Blogging your business

There are so many benefits you can get from blogging your business. You can use it for advertising and gain product or service popularity. You can use it as a platform to share your expertise, endorsements and many other things you want to share about your business. In this computer generation and with an advance in technology, internet becomes a competitive market for modern businesses especially those who sell online. Through blogging, your way to success is just a few steps away.

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Gaining Leads from Facebook’s New Timeline Design

23 Apr

Now that the Facebook changes have gone into effect, let’s take a look at how you can maximize the “new” Facebook Pages. Today we’ll walk you through some of the creative ways to boost your exposure and your page on Facebook.

The apps that now appear on your Facebook Page can be used in all sorts of ways. You can use them in some pretty great ways but it will be important to make sure that the thumbnails associated with them are coordinated in colors and look. You can have fun with these, but I’d recommend keeping an eye on your branding because these show up on the top of your page and are very visible.

Now that we know we can use these fun applications, what are some marketing tips that folks can use to make the most of these?

Well, you can and should rename your applications. When you do, make sure there’s a clear call to action, especially since the default welcome tabs have gone away, you can really use these to maximize your impact and get folks to sign up or whatever it is that you want them to do. You can also move these applications around.

So, how do you upload a custom thumbnail?

The first thing you want to do is collapse all of your applications so they all show up. And then, hover over the right corner of any of your applications and you’ll get that little edit pencil that popped up when you moved the boxes around. Next, you’ll get the drop down and you want to click on Edit Settings. Once you click on Edit Settings a box will pop-up here and you can add or remove the application, you can change the thumbnail image and you can name your application; like I said, put in a really good call to action — Enroll Now, Sign Up Here, Listen, or Watch or whatever you want to do.

How else can users customize their Fan Pages?

In the old layout we were able to use a default landing tab. Many of us used it as a default welcome tab where all non-fans would land before landing on our Wall. Now this option is gone. You can no longer set a default landing tab. However, the good news is that each custom app has its own unique URL so you can take that URL and then drive traffic from outside of Facebook into Facebook with that custom URL so they actually land on the tab you want them to land on.

Another way that I drive traffic to my applications is by designing a timeline cover image that draws the eye down to a specific custom app. For example, I used my Timeline cover to draw attention to a “Webinars” custom app. If someone clicks on my “Webinars” app what they’ll see is an opt-in opportunity to sign up for my upcoming webinar. So it is essentially a lead generating opportunity.

Here’s what’s cool, in this instance I used a tool called Lujure and this tool allows you to pull in a web page outside of Facebook and have that function inside your custom tab on Facebook.

So, other than the new Timeline cover image and no default landing tab, what else has changed? What are some tips for increasing Fan engagement?

With the new Pages rollout — first impressions really matter! The goal is to get people coming back for more. Having an impeccably branded Facebook page is important; it’s got to look good in order to attract people’s attention. That’s where your cover image comes into play. Also, on your Wall, I encourage you to use more eye-catching images and video. Video especially is a great way to build authority and build a stronger relationship with your fans.

Also, I always say ask interesting questions that can be responded to easily. One word questions are always great. Also, don’t post and ditch. I was really guilty of this the other night when I posted something on my Facebook page. I had found this really cool Facebook ad and I wanted my Facebook fans to tell me what they thought about it. However, I posted it and then I went off to bed. When I woke up the next morning there were 50-plus different comments! I should have stayed up a little later and engaged with my fans. The way I see it, if your fans take the time to comment, you want to make sure you show them you’re present and listening.

Tell us about some of the new features for building fan engagement?

There are some exciting new features, let me explain. First of all, there’s something called Recent Posts by Others that is now on your new timeline. When someone writes on your wall or tags your page, posts are not always prominently displayed on your wall. It’s really weird how they’ve done it now. Posts by others are actually grouped together. You want to go out of your way to make sure you answer any questions they have and respond to their comments. Remember to make it a habit to reach out to those who have commented on your page.

Another new feature that is good to know about is the “Friends” indicator box. When you go to any Facebook page, at the very top, right under the custom apps, you will see a number. That number is the number of your friends that are also fans of the page that you are on.

In addition to encouraging more engagement on your Facebook page, there are two really cool things that you can do with posts now. If you wanted to really draw attention to a post, what you could do is hover over the right corner of a post and you’ll see a star and a little pencil. The little pencil is to edit the post; the star is to highlight it. Click that star and what happens is the post expands across the timeline. Instead of it being in one of the columns it takes up both columns. Now when people are scanning down your timeline that post that will stand out more than the other posts. This is a great thing to do with just a select few posts that you want to draw attention to and highlight.

The only problem with this is that as soon as you put up a new post, it will be pushed down on your wall. One way to keep a post at the top is to pin it. Pinned posts have a small, yellow ribbon in the right corner of the post — that’s how you know it’s pinned to the top of a Facebook Wall. Pinned posts allow you to feature your most important content at the very top of your wall. When you pin a post, it will stay there for 7 days and then Facebook will automatically unpin it.

Although it would be nice to do, you can’t highlight and pin a post at the same time. It’s one feature or the other. Meaning you can’t pin a post to keep it at the top and then highlight it so it stretches across your Timeline.

To wrap up, here are five quick Timeline strategies:

  1. Make sure you create calls-to-action with your thumbnails and name your applications with strong words that encourage your fans to click on them, such as: Enroll, Watch Now, and Sign Up Here.
  2. Be strategic with the three apps across the top — remember any Facebook page you go to, you’ll see the Photos application and then three boxes next to it. Be strategic with those three applications because those are the ones that everyone will always see.
  3. Make a mindset shift — start focusing on quality interactions, more engagement, more lead opportunities versus more likes.
  4. Make your Timeline visually appealing (while invoking real action)! Choose words and graphics that will get your fans to pay attention.
  5. Bonus Tip! Use Facebook Ads to drive traffic to your applications. Facebook ads can be very inexpensive and get you huge results when you experiment with them enough to really understand how they can work for your business.

Improving Local SEO with Google Places

16 Apr

With the world going more and more global, over the last two years we have also witnessed web searches getting more and more local. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that Google Places has dramatically changed the way that local businesses deal with search engine marketing. Local SEO has become the latest ‘hot niche’ for location based businesses.

According to Google’s statistics, 20% of all searches contain local terms and keywords with 97% of consumers searching for local products and services online. And that figure is continuously growing, especially with the increasing number of smartphone owners.

Despite being a free service and being around since 2010, many businesses either find Google Places too complicated and do not quite get it, therefore do not really use it; which is a shame, as these companies could be missing out on 20% of their potential customers, according to Google’s findings.

What is Google Places?

Google Places is a search platform by Google, which allows companies to reach their most targeted audience in the exact geography they are offering their services and products.

Getting Started With Google Places

To get started with Google Places, a business needs to complete the following steps:

– Register with Google and create a Google Places profile;

– Verify your name, address and phone number;

– Create a company description which promotes your product or service;

– Gradually build a good number of customer reviews, which Google calls ‘citations”. These reviews can be from third party sites, but recently Google has prioritized reviews from within Google itself, so its better to ask your customers to review directly from your Google Places page;

– Link your website to your Google Places page

– Add images and videos to your Places page

Now let’s look into these steps and see what you have to know about them.

Your Google Places Page

Make sure you have your Google Places page 100% completed. Choosing the right categories is a critical factor for your ranking in Places. Keywords are the most important thing for categories, so make sure you get this right and do your keywords research beforehand.

Keep your customer in mind when adding data, photos, videos, links and offers. You should ask yourself whether it inspires trust from your customers and bring legitimacy to your business.

Name, Address and Phone Number

Make sure your name, address and phone number is consistent across all online references of your business. If it isn’t, be sure to update it. Google likes consistency in profiles and considers this a key factor in determining the legitimacy of your business.

Many businesses overlook this point, but ignore it at your peril as the web is moving more and more towards trust signs, which is tied to verifiable data such as name, address and phone number.

Reviews

Like it or not but the system is so cleverly designed that you can’t do these by yourself or get your friends, staff, etc. do them for you. The only option is to get them from real customers who will publish them on the set of sites trusted by Google which you need for your citations.

And it won’t do you any good if you have got 14 reviews from two customers. Your reviews should be from different users, with different IP addresses if you want Google to add any significance to them.

Ranking

Google Places provide two types of ranking results: Pure and Blended.

Pure results rankings

They are directly driven by your Places page and Maps algorithms and show less information (link, website, ranking, reviews). What matters here are your business category, keywords and location in the geography searched.

Yet, it’s all about the balance so don’t over-optimize your site, stuffing it with keywords everywhere or Google will ban your web page.

And it makes sense, as Google doesn’t wants to have its service discredited. Similar thing happens when you create duplicate records as Google splits the links which results in lower rankings.

Pure results ranking are also affected by the data on you website. It should be enough to prove what you claim to be so that search engines can find and trust your web page.

Critically important to pure ranking are business reviews as well. It is recommended that you have both positive and negative reviews in order to get more legitimacy and look more realistic.

Blended local results

They are a combined effort of your Google Places and Organic search listings. Besides the information provided by Pure local results, Blended results display additional information about your business.

But here’s the thing – even if you have a cleverly optimized Place page but fail to get it associated with your website you won’t get any blended results.

That’s why the keyword here is ‘website optimization for offering (products/ services) + location. After you do these, build links to support your optimization and help boost your rankings.

You will also need authority links from diverse sources and anchor text as well as authentic quality reviews with a balanced amount of keywords which have been gradually generated in the course of time.

Does this sound very different from what you have done so far? Yes, probably.

Until recently local SEO was perceived rather like a luxury service; nice to have but not necessary. The truth is that search engine optimization is continuously evolving and local SEO is now an important, developing niche.

If you’re a local business, then Google Places is just a stage in this evolution. If you don’t get it right, you could be missing out and will have to play catch up with your search engine rankings.

Granted it’s a bit more complicated than conventional SEO techniques, but the sooner you implement it (or outsource its implementation to a professional), the easier it will be for your clients to find you. After all, isn’t that the point?

Adding Google + to your Social Media Marketing Mix

9 Apr

Despite the low turnout on Google +, marketers want to learn more about how to use the social media platform effectively, according to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. A surprising number of those surveyed – 70% – said they want to learn more about Google +, despite the fact that only 40% are currently using it.

“I was surprised by the number of marketers who are committed to expanding their work with Google+,” said Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, ”70% is a huge number and that means Google+ will be a big force in 2012.”

For the past four years Stelzner has released an annual report on the social media marketing industry. Each year, the findings tell us what’s new in the world of social media. In general, we’ve seen a shift toward more social media adoption from brands, which is good news for the industry as a whole. In fact, this year, 94% of those surveyed are using social media. That’s up 6% from two years ago.
What’s the Attraction?

If Google + is a ghost town (its users spend on average three minutes a month there, compared to the 405 minutes a month spent by Facebook users), why do so many marketers want more of it? The answer, most likely, is due to the fact that Google + activity appears in search results. Its newly-rolled out Search Plus Your World displays the preferred results of a Google user’s contacts above others. For businesses angling to move up in search engine results, this is a huge boon. There are critics, of course, who feel Google is unfairly pitting Google + users’ results above more relevant content, but that’s to be expected in the grand Google debate.

Where Google + Falls

Google + ranked sixth most popular, among the commonly used social media tools in the report. It ranked just above photo sharing sites, forums, bookmarking sites, geolocation and daily deals. There’s a chance that could increase in the next year, as 67% of those surveyed plan to increase their use of Google +.

What are We Getting Out of Social Media?

Marketers are still asking how they can benefit from Google +, and there aren’t a lot of convincing answers just yet. But ROI has always been a point of contention for those on either side of the fence. Long have bosses been asking about the benefits of social media (i.e, how does it affect their bottom line). In the survey, here’s what marketers said about social media benefits:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increased traffic
  • Provided marketplace insight
  • Generated leads
  • Developed loyal fans
  • Improved search rankings
  • Grew business partnerships
  • Reduced marketing expenses
  • Improved sales

Sadly, the report didn’t provide the magic bullet we’re all looking for: how to measure the ROI of social media. However, that was the #1 question those surveyed still want an answer to (us as well!).

Areas of Growth

While we know that there are newcomers in the social media world this year, there’s a surprising lack of mention of Pinterest in the survey. That’s because of Pinterest’s tremendous growth which occurred after the survey was conducted. I imagine we will see much more about it in next year’s results.

Part of an Overall Marketing Strategy

Smart marketers know that social media is just one piece of the entire marketing pie. The marketers surveyed also use SEO, email marketing, event marketing, online advertising, press releases, webinars, sponsorships, direct mail and offline ads to help support and counter their social media efforts.

Just like I always say: be in as many places as you can to reach the maximum number of potential customers. While the verdict is still out about the effectiveness of Google + for small businesses, the fact that we’re still seeing new players means that social media will continue to evolve for the better.

The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report is available as a free download until April 19.

Why Google Places and Yelp are so Incredibly Important for your Small Business!

2 Apr

When it comes to listing your business online, there are many roads to take, but which one leads you down the right path?  Since each business has its own strategy and goals, it’s hard to pinpoint which listings will be best for you.

In today’s blog post, we are helping you break-down 2 listing sites that all small business owners NEED to be aware of: Yelp and Google Places.

GOOGLE PLACES

Google Places is a listing where business owner can input information, including address, phone number, website, directions, and even photos representing their business. With Google juice behind the listing, these pop up often when people search for a specific business using Google as a search engine.

Don’t think restaurants are the only type of business that get reviewed!  Venues, specialty service providers and even churches have feedback available for others to read and learn from.

Google users can also utilize the listings to voice their opinion by posting a business review.

YELP

Yelp’s tag line is “Real Reviews. Real People” which means business owners have little control when it comes to what’s being said about their business. This can be a blessing and a curse, depending on whether or not reviews are positive or negative.

While there’s nothing you can do about reviews that are posted, you can make sure that your listing in Yelp is as up-to-date as possible by claiming your business. This simply requires you to fill in all the information surrounding your business including your address, website, phone number, photos and then verifying that you are the owner.

Yelp reviews are not something to opt out of!  You may be thinking, “I haven’t set up a Yelp profile or claimed my business page, therefore, I don’t have to worry about reviews being up about my business.” This is not the case. People can post reviews about your business even if you’ve never been to Yelp.   It’s easy to be concerned about bad reviews, however, it’s just as important to be aware of good reviews!  You wouldn’t want someone to publicly display a compliment to your business and you not thank them for doing so, right?

Additionally, many times Yelp listings can pop up before Google Places, making it crucial that business owners keep the profile updated so people are able to locate and contact your business in an accurate manner.

WHAT DO THESE LISTINGS MEAN FOR BUSINESSES?

It is crucial to have both a Google Places page as well as an updated Yelp listing.

Both are very search-friendly sites, and with more and more customers finding new businesses to patronize via online resources, it’s time to give up that hard copy Yellow Pages listing and hunt for more search-friendly options.

For help with getting your business listed on Google Places and Yelp and managing your reviews, contact Sala Social Marketing today!