Social Media/Directory Listings: Made Simple

sm imageThe worst possible thing you can do as a small business or any business for that matter when it comes to social media is sitting idle. So many businesses have no initiative as to where to start with social media, they end up doing nothing at all. BIG MISTAKE. Colossal. I say this because, social media marketing is not going away anytime soon, and you don’t have to know everything about social media marketing to make it effectual for you as a business trying to be found on the internet. So what the hell are you waiting for?

Time and time again I’ve had the same conversation with clients about what they should or shouldn’t do about their social media marketing efforts. The biggest response I get from clients is, “I don’t know where to start”. My response is: “You really can’t screw it up, but don’t do NOTHING”. Yes, SM implementation is time consuming, less intuitive than one could ever envision and yes, it can be exasperating at times, however, if you sit down and determine what is relevant and what is not, you will rapidly find yourself with a short list of SM venues that might suit you. Worst-case scenario, you set up the sites and then what? You scarcely post to them, this is common, and it will change once you start noticing what others are doing and how it works for them. More importantly, the foremost thing is, at least you have accomplished the hardest part by listing yourself as a business. Believe it or not you are now on the road to something larger than before when you were sitting on your hands contemplating, “Where do I begin?”

When I started out in Social Media Marketing, I was faced with this very same challenge. I was thrown into a position as an Internal Marketing Coordinator for a dental office, and I was given a small manual on how to claim social media sites. I began reading a lot on my own, and learned that you need to claim your listings on the Internet. So I sat down and made a list of the ones I use, personally and started there. This list has perceptibly amplified now, but here’s what I’ve established to be the most essential

MY TOP TEN SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

Observably we can add more to this list now, but quite honestly, if you are just starting out and you want to know where to start, this is a good base. Another thing to contemplate in addition to all of these are: Directory Listings. Yes, directory listings are also just as vital as social media listings and you don’t have to pay to list for basic directory listings, they are FREE, and they are effective. In the beginning I found a beta testing site called Brandify to help me understand what our brand looked like on the Internet. Brandify now charges a small fee to use their service, but this helped me understand our brand online, compile my list and it also gave me a list of directories they deemed valuable, necessary and prudent as well. I’ve added to that list and here are my

MY TOP TEN DIRECTORY LISTING SITES

When you initially look at these lists you are scratching your head going, “huh, I’ve never even heard of these before”? Yes I know, some of these you’ve never heard before and some of them you have, but consider this: singularly they are meaningless, united they are powerful. What that means is, the more places you put yourself on the Internet, the easier you are found through Google, Bing and Yahoo searches.

Things to consider when setting up directory listings and social media sites:

1. Uniform – Keep your information uniformed throughout your sites! Continuity is king as well as content! Make sure you fill out all of the information you can, the description, the about us, keep it uniform. Write a universal description and about us and copy and paste it throughout your sites and directories.

2. Media – Make sure to post relevant pictures, photos, videos and logos wherever you can. Don’t leave things blank, your brand and the awareness around it are vastly important when it comes to being found and consumers remembering who you are!

3. Claim before Create – Make sure you are claiming your sites before creating new ones, it’s quite possible someone might have already started a Facebook page for you when they checked in at your business or wrote a review about you on Yelp. Yes, you have to claim your sites, not all of them but most of them, just make sure you do a search on that site before setting up a new one.

4. Be Prepared – This process will be much more painless if you are prepared and have your information ready and accessible! The more prepared you are the faster you will get your listings posted. Keep your media and information in one universal folder on your desktop where it is accessible.

5. Don’t pay to claim – When claiming, there are some sites that want you to pay to claim faster, don’t do it. They will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification pin and instructions. Most of them will say it takes 2 weeks, but I’ve never seen that, it usually takes about 5 business days or less.

HINT: When setting up your map directories in MapQuest, Google Maps and Bing Business Maps, make sure your location pin is in the right location, if not, move it. You can drag and drop your pin anywhere on a map. If not, then you contact Google/BING/MapQuest.

After you’ve set up your sites, start posting to them and drive traffic to them. Use your social media sites to drive traffic to your directory sites, use your directory sites to drive traffic to your social media sites by linking you social media sites on your directory sites. Any link that backlinks to your website, is great Simple SEO 101. Once you jump in to this ever-changing tide of social media and online marketing, you will soon find out, it isn’t as intimidating as it looks. It is very easy to start campaigning and promoting your business with a few clicks of the mouse and keyboard and it didn’t cost anything more than your time, BOOM!

Some good SM management softwares: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, CoTweet

Branding – It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds!

Brand-ImageYou might be a business that has been around for quite some time, or perhaps you are a new business starting up. Regardless of your status and stature, when it comes to branding, there are numerous things to contemplate.

Some say, it is harder to re-brand yourself if you are a business that has been operating for many years. On the other hand, it has been said that is just as complex to brand yourself as a new business breaking into an existing market.  Regardless of how you look at it, or who says what, branding is the most fundamental aspect to any businesses new or existing. Your brand is your fingerprint, your pulse in a specific market and community; you as a company are defined by your brand as it is how people will relate to you, find you and connect with you. Branding is essential more importantly the how develop your brand is acutely crucial.

We are not talking about re-inventing the wheel here, we are talking about what the color, shape or size the wheel, can, will and should look like to a specific demographic. When determining your brand, new or old, there are some key guidelines to follow when taking this new leap forward into the daunting indefinite.

Do your research!

First of all, researching your demographic will help you in determining your brand, label, and your fingerprint. If you have no idea what demographic you’re marketing to then you will never develop a successful brand. For example, if your product, or business is driven towards the 30 something, conservative, gun owning male, you probably don’t want the color pink in your logo/brand. This is probably not the greatest analogy, but there is a science to this. The point is, like any marketing plan, you do the demographic research to help you determine who your ideal and customer is, and tailor your brand to those customers. The rest will follow. But, you must must must do your research, whether you do this yourself or hire a marketing person, it must be done in order to have a comprehensive look at your business/product through your potential customer’s eyes.

Be prepared/Inform your audience

When developing a new brand for an old business you have to prepare your audience and/or customers for the change. Your existing customers are your best customers and you always want to keep them in the loop on any changes to your business, plus this makes them feel important; empowerment is influential. As a business owner, you should already have vital data from your existing customers, such as email addresses, mailing addresses, social media, mailing lists etc. Most businesses now, are using social media to prime their audience intended for any specials, changes and/or events regarding their business. It is a quick and effortless way to reach your audience with these changes. More importantly, by priming the pump so to speak, letting your customers know that you are changing names or updating a logo but are still maintaining the same ownership is beneficial in maintaining your identity. If you are a storefront, hand out flyers, throw an event for a grand re-opening, plaster it all over your social media sites, send emails, post cards etc. You want to give your customers/clients at least a 6 months notice that things are changing in a good way. If there is one thing people dislike it is change and they dislike it even more when they don’t see it coming. Use this is a re-marketing/marketing campaign to tap back into to your audience, new and old. There is always opportunity for marketing when branding or re-branding. If you are developing your website and are simply working with blogging and social media platforms, use these tools to announce your changes. Not only is this a great marketing tool, but it also gets you re-involved with your audiences. Keep your clients informed and use the opportunity to reach back out the community to say you care and hey take a look at what we are doing! People will warm to your regard and this outreach will benefit your business. And you never know, you might re-capture that customer that hasn’t been to your business in quite sometime. It’s a win win!

It’s always wise, when making a change to your brand or creating a new brand, to announce to your audience the changes that are about to take place. Get them to interact with the change, pose questions, give timelines etc.. The most important information you can reveal to your audience about any changes is the most relevant information, which means, what is real vs. what might be.

Be consistent

Make sure that when you begin your branding/re-branding campaign, you are consistent throughout all of your platforms, social media, blog, website, local listings etc. Take one platform at a time, and slowly develop your consistency across the board. If you don’t have consistent content throughout your platforms, things will be interpreted as sloppy and irrelevant and followers/audiences will be less interested. Consistency is you best tool in the toolbox, when people are Google searching for a specific product they like to see consistency. You don’t want your twitter to say one thing and your Google+ to say another. Keep things simple and consistent, it’s always the best approach.

Three things to always consider when branding:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you are offering
  3. Where you’re going/where do you want to be

Quick Tip: Create a mailing list and put it on your website, social media and plaster all over your business. Get your customers to sign up so they can have exclusive access to specials, upcoming events and your company newsletters. You can easily create this through MailChimp. This is a non-invasive way to inbox your customers without feeling like you are spamming them because they signed up for the mailing list on their own.

Branding can be a simple transition or creation if properly introduced and strategically planned out. It can also be a fun process if you allow it to be. Make it exciting to your customers that this is great thing and they will benefit from this change and development. Use social media as much as possible; you can reach a larger, vaster audience if properly used. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation; engage with customers online and in person if possible and inform them about this new era of your business! In the end, people might not like change initially, but if it is good positive change, the audience is yours for the taking!