Why you need Social Media!

Seven years ago, social media was considered the red headed stepchild of marketing. That was 7 years ago, now, because of Apple and the splendid smart phone generation, social media has become “the” instrument for lead generations, captivation and interaction for all businesses big and small.

What we once considered a dating service as this was the sole intention of social media, we now look to social media as our link to the outside world and everyone’s world that is connected to us. Social media has become “the” thing that everyone is personally invested in, a spider web of connections, relationships and a way to get into the world of social networking on all levels, this has changed everything.  As a business owner if you are not implementing social media into your company or small business’ marketing plan, then you are missing out and the world’s most inexpensive and effective marketing tool there is.

True of False?

I’m afraid to have my staff manage our social media because they are just going to play on the Internet all day.   False and maybe true, and here’s why.

This is somewhat valid, but mostly false. The first mistake most companies make when putting together a social media campaign is the lack of a social media policy. It might seem silly, but in all fairness it is vital in ensuring you are sheltered and making sure that every crumb of content that is posted on the Internet is in accordance to your guidelines as a business owner. There is a certain moral that is expected when posting content related to your business. You obviously don’t want your employees to post personal photos of themselves unrelated to your business and you want to make certain that the language used on any or all of your social media is appropriate etc… Business social media posts are infinitely diverse from personal posts, and if you have a sole social media marketing person in your office that does just that, you want to make sure they are the only posting relevant, consistent and unique content that is worthy to your cause and appropriate to your business. CREATE a social media policy before even considering a social media campaign and if you are a small business that is delegating your social media posts to a team member make sure that they aware of the social media policy and have everyone on your staff sign off on a document called “xxxx’s Social Media Policy”. If this policy is closely followed by your designated person, then there is not much time to deviate from the task at hand. Yes, your employee is going to be on the internet posting to social media sites, but this is their job and what they are posting and what they are doing will be quite evident as you the business owner have ownership over all social media sites and interaction and have complete access to what is being said or not said about your brand/business. Quite honestly, if you are over-concerning yourself with whether or not your employee is using their social media marketing position to their advantage and wasting company dollars then you are not busy enough as a business owner. But to offset any confusion or concern, make sure to set in place a social media policy.

NOTE: some things to consider when writing a Social Media Policy, here are some highlights of important items to outline:

  1. Purpose/Policy Statement
  2. Social Media Platforms to be Used
  3. Social Media Tools – What products will you be using ie. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Foursquare etc..
  4. Purpose of Social Media– Be clear about why you are using social media  
  5. Roles and Responsibility – if there is more than one personal managing the SM be clear as to who is responsible for what
  6. Moderation/Maintenance – how often are posts made and on what platforms
  7. Protect Confidential & Proprietary Info 
  8. Implementation/Monitoring/Review- review and re-visit the social media policy in xx number of days/months 

Here are some examples of social media policies from various companies and organizations, click here.

Facebook and Twitter have have nothing to do with my business.   False, False, False!

ALL social media has EVERYTHING to do with your business! Big or small, your business has a voice and if you want your voice to be heard, there is only one way to do this in a really big fashion, that’s through social media. To be clear, it’s not just about having your voice heard, it is also about being seen, being found and connecting and interacting with your consumers. There is nothing more influential than giving your consumers a voice, they want to be heard and most of the time they want everyone to know how awesome you really are. Social media can benefit your company in a multiplicity of ways. For example, you can advertise specials or promotions, you can inspire your consumers to check in to your business with Foursquare, Facebook or YELP and they can win a prize; you can find new consumers through your existing consumers that follow you and check in; give tips, reply to posts and reviews and personalize your business! Social media is your connection to the outside world, and it is FREE! Not only does social media help you connect it also helps with your SEO (search engine optimization) in being found on Google. Google has measured relevant and unique content on your social media sites as “bot” worthy. Which means, when you post on your various social media sites Google bots will seize any new and unique content on those sites, which then pushes you up in your Google ratings. The more places you are listed as a business the easier you will be found on Google, and we know how much everyone wants to be on page 1 of Google, it’s the holy grail of marketing!  Look at SM as your third arm; it’s your way of organically reaching out into the world and allowing your business to be found, to be heard and to be seen.

I want my social media person to just post one time a week just as long as it is something, I don’t care what they post.    FALSE and this is a horrible approach.

First of all, you want to make sure that before you are posting anything to the Internet in your social media feeds, you want to make sure that it is relevant, appropriate and unique. In order to ensure consistency, appoint or hire someone to maintain your social media marketing if you haven’t already.  By having a designated person to maintain your social media presence you can have a stronger more consistent message to your consumers. Moreover, create a social media tactical plan before even attempting any social media posting and creation. It is key to ensuring a successful social media campaign and relates to how your social media marketing person functions in their position. Otherwise, it will be like running a marathon without training. You have to plan for the unforeseen and make sure you are maximizing your social media marketing person’s time properly. Otherwise, you will just be wasting your time and company’s money by throwing away potential lead generation by not having a tactical plan on how to effectively capture your audience through social media. Posting just anything will do absolutely nothing but lead your lofty aspirations of social media to ruin. Remember: the initiative of social media is to institute a permanent and growing rapport with a company or brand’s audience by encouraging audience communication.  In order to harvest the largest advantage from each facet of social media, each channel included into the campaign must be strategically planned in terms of the timing, relevance and originality.  Follow this guideline and you will be on your way to a successful SM campaign.

If I post videos to YouTube about my services will this help my business?   Yes and True!

YouTube is your biggest ally when it comes to social media and SEO. YouTube is owned by Google which means, they love your YouTube videos. YouTube is the most underrated social media site by most small companies simply because they think it’s just a place to watch funny videos. Wrong!  YouTube is yet another link to the outside world and your chance to literally show them what you’ve got. I have a client that is HVAC repair guy and we were putting together a social media campaign for him, one of things we talked about was making a video about how to change out an air filter on a furnace unit. His first reaction was, if everyone sees my video then they wouldn’t need me to show them how to do this. This is a common mentality but what he was missing was, you are showing someone how to do something which might seem very insignificant and easy to you but might be overwhelming to someone else. In return, this creates legitimacy for your business and the more views you have, the better your ratings are with Google. Videos are paramount to your social media campaign and you can post these videos directly to your website and to your other social media sites. Not only does this benefit your social media rankings it automatically makes people relate to you and trust you! It’s great PR for you company and it will help in your overall ratings online and through Google!  Say, Yes to YouTube!

In the end, social media is what you make it; this is YOUR social networking community! But don’t underestimate the power of social networking; this is your way as a business owner to get your name or brand noticed!  Not only does this give you more exposure it also allows you to be heard and to hear what your consumers are saying about you and to you as a business. This is vital data, which will in turn assist you with future marketing campaigns and also help you manage your quality control. If you are doing something right then build upon that, if you are doing something that someone doesn’t like then learn from this and make it right and respond appropriately! More importantly, in business, social media is a link building community where  you can link up with consumers you might not have been able to reach before. If you put together a solid social media policy and tactical plan and find a person to designate to this task, you are already three steps ahead of businesses that are scratching their heads trying to figure it out. Just like anything else in a business you have to plan and as social media continues to dominate the marketing world, you will be one step ahead of your competition by taking the appropriate steps to prepare yourself accordingly. Don’t be intimidated by social media, it can be fun and if you are having fun with it professionally it will show in your posts and trust me, consumers will love it and want to connect with you!

5 Simple SEO Tips for the Beginner

If you own a business and have a half idea or understanding of marketing, you probably know or have heard of that lovely acronym called SEO. If you are new to the game of business ownership, and the world of online marketing, I’m guessing your first burning question is what the hell does SEO stand for? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What does this mean? Well if you have a couple of hours I could go on and on about the importance of SEO and why it is essential to the development of your business and how it relates to original and organic leads, from your website to your inbox. Basically SEO is this: a method of increasing the discernibility of a website, web page’s “organic” search result opportunities through search engine leads. In simple terms, it’s way to develop original content and relevant keywords on your website to help push you onto to page 1 in Google searches without having to pay for pay p/ click advertising.

In today’s modern world, and the World Wide Web, where we go to find everything these days, SEO is essential to any business, no matter how small or big you are, it is your link to the outside world. The first question new business owner clients always ask when wanting to develop an online presence is this, “why do I need a website right now?” The answer to this question is simple, a website is indispensable to all businesses because it is your way of presenting to the world, not just your community who you are, what you are, and why you are doing what you are doing, oh and why they should prefer you. Presently, a website is almost as essential as e-mail or texting, it is our silent link to a very big electronically driven world. As consumers, we don’t pick up the phone anymore and 8 out of 10 consumers will email and surf on the web for business information before even attempting a phone call. They will judge you and draw any conclusion they desire based on what they see from your website and/or online presence or lack thereof. Now you can appreciate the magnitude of having a well thought out website/online presence and now you can understand why SEO is imperative.

As a business owner driving traffic to your website is fundamental not only because it means new business for you but it also means exposure. In addition to this, it means you are expectantly seeing ROI (return on investment). This means you are making money, hopefully. With the right SEO website framework, even if it is small at first, you can drive traffic to your site with little effort in the beginning. Google web crawlers love newly indexed websites, they will crawl all over your website searching for unique content, things that define this website as original so make it count!

To start with, here are some basic SEO framework guidelines when initially setting up your online presence and website.

WordPress

WordPress is a great place to begin your original content, such as blogging. Blogging is the best way to invent yourself on the web and anything you originally write is yours to keep and attach to your website. WordPress website templates are an excellent and easy platform to build your website. WordPress template sites are great for uncomplicated products or businesses. They have built in SEO, and they have some nifty SEO plug-ins you can add as well. One of my favorite plug-ins is the All-In-One-SEO pack. No worries of crashing your site with this one, but its always good to do your research before adding a plug-in (they can crash your site) however, AIOSEO is solid and I’ve used it for almost all of my WP websites with great success. AIOSEO plug-in is a great way to manually add in your meta-tags, titles and descriptions, it supports Google Analytics code and it automatically optimizes your titles for search engines, just to name a few of features.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great way to measure your audience, right down to the what devices they are using to what zip code they are searching you from. The best part of Google Analytics is it is no charge to you. Once you’ve built your website and it is live you can create a Google Analytics account for free. GA will give you a code that you have to install in the footer of your website (backend) and oila, you have the keys to the inside world of your audience’s surfing habits. From GA you can create a Webmaster tools account, a Google Adwords campaign etc. Google analytics is one of the most important things we have access to, because it shows who, what, when, where and who’s coming back to see our site. This is vital information when creating an online presence and measuring your audience’s frequency.

Social Media

I cannot express enough to my clients the validity of social media, a solid social media campaign and how vital these are to their web presence. Do NOT underestimate social media; it is your weapon of mass destruction and it is free advertising! It also gives you an opportunity to link any or all of your web pages to increase clicks to your website (offsite link building). Social media is your quick voice, and it gives consumers an opportunity to see what others are saying about you and to you. The seven main sites I encourage my clients to create are, YouTube Channel (YouTube is owned by Google), LinkedIn, Facebook (business page), Google Local/Google+ (business page), Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare (if you have a storefront). You can still set up a Foursquare account to increase your online visibility, but its intended purpose is mainly for businesses that have their own address/storefront. Make sure to keep up with your content weekly and in some cases daily depending on your industry. Your probably wondering what social media has to do with SEO, it’s simple. You own the content on your website and you want to expose that content and drive traffic to your site right? It’s easy to do this through linking pages from your site to your Facebook page for instance so people can click on that thumbnail and go directly to your site. You can promote your website through simple posts on your social media. Create YouTube videos and post them on your site, Google owns YouTube and the Googlebots love YouTube on your website!

Keyword Research

When building your website and keeping SEO in mind, make sure you are doing your keyword research. You can easily do this through Google Trends and Keywords Search for free. Go to http://www.google.com/trends type in your industry, for instance say you are a dentist, and want to know the top 10 keywords people use to search for a dentist on Google in your area. Type in Dentist, and on the map you can break it down by State, city, and locale. GT will give you a list of 10 top keyword searches for dentist in your area. Keywords are vital when creating your website, writing your Meta titles and descriptions and they will also help when indexing your site – Googlebots love relevant keywords.

Indexing

When developing your site and keeping SEO in mind, you want to make sure that your website is indexed. What this means is you want to make sure that your website is found on all the major search engines. If you are working with a developer make sure that they are indexing your site once it is ready to go live. If your site is not indexed then it’s as if it doesn’t exist. In order to do this make sure you have relevant keywords in your site, in your tags, titles and descriptions as well as your content, and always, always make sure that your content is original. The Googlebots will crawl your page looking for original contents and relevant keywords etc… “Googlebot processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. In addition, we process information included in key content tags and attributes, such as Title tags and ALT attributes. Googlebot can process many, but not all, content types. For example, we cannot process the content of some rich media files or dynamic pages.” If you are developing your own site, you of course with the help of Google Webmaster Tools can do this yourself click here for a great step by step explanation on how to get your site indexed.

When building a website there are so many things to contemplate, especially when you are implementing preliminary SEO. SEO is factually the dynamic strength of your website. The more you know and the more pertinent and original your content is, the stronger your online presence will be. These 5 tips are just one small aspect of how SEO works. You can pay exorbitant amounts of money for SEO campaigns and pay per click advertising but just like any other small business starting up, cost effectiveness and budget are always the first thing we take into account. By starting with these 5 simple tasks mentioned above, you can start the basic SEO process for your site without little effort or financial investment. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and to understand basic SEO, how the back end of WordPress website functions and how you can make it work to your advantage.

Sidenote: UpCity is an inexpensive and great way to start basic SEO for your business. YEXT is also a great site to get your company listed on all the major directories on the web. Consistency is king when it comes to an online presence.