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

Why do I need a custom social media page?

The intricacy of social media and what we should and shouldn’t do, is always an interesting battle. But just when you thought, just getting your social media active, assuring your content is accurate and posting on a weekly basis was sufficient enough, in comes the custom social media page! For those of you that have wondered how feasible or effective it may be to design a custom page, fret not, it’s easier than you think and it will benefit your company greatly.

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is bypassing the custom social media page. Part of this bypassing is due to not really understanding how they are capable of doing this. Believe it or not, it’s not as hard as you may think and the end result is killer! There are a myriad of companies that will do this for you for a fee, but be careful, some charge you a setup fee, design fee and upload fee. Make sure to always inquire about all the fees not just the design fee. If you are a small business starting out, creating custom social media pages is largely beneficial to your company’s brand, and if you have half an idea of how to design something on Illustrator or Photoshop, you can design these pages fairly easy.

Every social media page has a specific design guideline, similar to designing an advertisement except you won’t have bleeds, but you will be making room for other things depending on that social media. A couple of years ago, Facebook changed everything when it gave individuals the opportunity to implement a large cover photo in addition to their profile photo. Google+ followed suite and recently trumped the entire thing by doubling your optional size for your cover photos and making the profile photo area smaller. Why the benefit? Well, because of that cover photo, you are able to bullet point and highlight the most important parts of your business, whether it be specials, phone number, website etc… Social media isn’t like a website in the sense that there are not several pages to comb through. Everything is right in your face, so be wise when choosing what you want to say!

Regardless of whether or not you decide to customize your social media sites, take note that you only have to customize the sites you use the most. My rule of thumb is, keep your logo consistent on every profile picture, use the cover photo to reiterate everything else. The idea behind these custom designs has more to do with fluidity and brand development. You can keep your brand consistent throughout all of your social media platforms, which is vital in developing your business. Consistency is and always will be king! In addition to consistent branding, you can also add more information on your custom pages as well. Your social media pages are your landing pages for many things, and people that are on your website, link in to your social media. Your social media has the capability to give quick bursts about what you do, what you offer, hours of operation, phone number, website in large bold text. If you are in the service industry and run specials, you can also highlight these on your custom page design as well. Obviously you should be posting these items in your feeds as well, but there is nothing more powerful than the power of big and bold!

Follow these guidelines for successful custom page implementation

1. Keep it consistent
2. Set up a template for the social media platforms you use (see dimension cheat sheet below). Keep this template for future changes to your custom page design
3. Keep your logo in the profile picture unless it requires a photo of you (ie. Yelp requires this)
4. Always keep your phone number bold and on the cover photo or side bar (depending on your the social media platform)
5. Use the cover photo to display a picture of your business and what you offer, if there is room, always make sure to have your phone number and website on this cover
6. Change the information that only changes regularly and keep the rest of the layout exactly the same
7. Keep your colors consistent with your logo and brand
8. Make sure to save your designs in RGB color (it’s the best for web image display)

Once you’ve set up your template for each of your social media platforms, then you are good to go. Uploading is as easy as uploading a personal photo, they are all saved with the same file extension and format. Some words of advice when creating your custom pages, keep this in mind, make sure that you are meticulously editing all of your copy if it helps have a second set of eyes proof your custom page before posting/uploading it. The last thing your business needs is scathing bold typo on your highly trafficked social media page. And ALWAYS keep the page the same! Which means, only change the copy that changes, ie. specials, new business information;consistency across the board don’t confuse your audience!

Something as simple as a custom, consistent social media page can assist you with the longevity and success of your business. My advice, if you can design it yourself, then do it, you will save yourself some cash. If you don’t know how to design a custom page, teaching yourself how to do it (there are many YouTube tutorials), will be the greatest investment in your business and yourself, especially if you are a small business starting out. Custom design isn’t as intimidating as it sounds and believe or not it is effective!

Adobe offers a small monthly membership to access all of their Creative Cloud programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Pagemaker, Photoshop etc…

NOTE: Every social media site has their own dimension requirements for their custom pages. I put a cheat sheet below from a site I reference often! Mind you, as of March 2013 Google+ has just changed their dimensions for their cover photo and profile photos, they are now: 2120 X 1192 (coverphoto) | 250 X 250 (profile photo.)

The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet LunaMetrics

Brought to you by the LunaMetrics blog.

NYC Marathon Cancelled After Too Much Deliberation

The NYC Marathon is one of the largest, most popular pre-imminent long distance running events in the world; followed closely by the Boston and Chicago marathons in popularity. Last year alone, the NYC Marathon had a record breaking 46,795 finishes with around 2 million spectators. People travel from all over the world to compete in this popular annual event and take pride in paying the $250 entry fee to have the opportunity to run through the 5 Burroughs of NYC and finish in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Since 1970 the NYC Marathon has never skipped a beat, until last week when NYC/NJ were punched by one of the largest and strongest hurricanes in the history of those two states. The devastation left millions without power, access to public transportation, homes, cars, food, water, clothes and in some cases family members, friends and loved ones. The devastation that struck the largest city in our country and the financial capital of the world brought everything to a halt, even Wall Street. All the while, Mayor Bloomberg debated for days before ultimately canceling the marathon all together. Why?

It only took a day to initially assess the enormity of the hurricane and after two days, that appraisal exceeded beyond everyone’s expectations all the while Bloomberg toiled with the idea of keeping the marathon as planned. Bloomberg could learn a thing or two from other elected officials who took a foot forward together to work collectively to facilitate a resolve and ease the devastation from Sandy. Both Governor Chris Christy and President Obama whom are political polar opposites, reached across the isle, political agendas aside and worked together for the best resolve for the people of NJ and worked together quite swiftly.  I think there is a greater implicit point here, in the wake of Sandy, for the first time in years, countless years, we saw political leaders come together as a unit to help each other and their fellow Americans, as Bloomberg waited.

I have to wonder as I am sure why everyone else was “what the hell was he waiting for?” Seriously, there clearly was no miracle that was going to magically appear to clear the path of obliteration for this 40 year event to take place. The marathon starts in Staten Island, which was one of the hardest hits areas of the city, 19 dead so far. Over half of the people living on Staten Island didn’t and still do not have power, cell phone use, are missing family members, community members and their lives slashed apart, yet Bloomberg waited. I still don’t understand this; it is quite feasible there is some inexplicable rationale as to why he waited 5 days after the hurricane to decide to rescind the race. 5 days is a long time and I’m sure the people of New York felt like it was an eternity!

So what exactly was Bloomberg’s plan I’m wondering, when these 46k people penetrate NYC for the Marathon how was he planning on getting them to the starting point in Staten Island? Were they going to just side step fallen trees, debris, clothes, destroyed homes, cars, power lines? And what about water, residents of NYC were struggling to get basic necessities, I wonder how Bloomberg was planning on keeping 46k runners hydrated, when the people of his own city were wondering how they were going to rebuild their lives let along find fresh water and food. And as they glide through the 5 Burroughs of NYC, how would this boost the morale of the people who are trying to figure out how they are going piece their lives back together.

Finally after much deliberation, Bloomberg pulled the plug 2 days before the race. Finally! What the hell took so damn long and why put these poor New Yorkers through any more visceral agony of televising the devastation as runners prance through their broken neighborhoods and shattered lives. New Yorkers are a durable breed, a resilient kind that are stalwart and stand jointly through the face of adversity because they are a community that understands impossible tragedy and disaster and in the end they say, “we got this”.  Let’s face it, the NYC Marathon does not characterize the residents of this amazing city, the diversity of this extraordinary city and the people who reside there are what make New York City, New York City. But then again, New Yorkers have always been defined by who they are as individuals and quite frankly there is no one quite like them anywhere else on the planet.