How To Use Social Media Marketing To Get Results In Your Business

Great article in simple language explaining the merits of Social Media Marketing for Business Results.

How to Use Social Media Marketing to Get Results in Your Business?
By Anna Hancox (c) 2010

We hear many business owners ask the question, “Is there any real value in Social Media for my Business?” Whether you like it or not, today and in the future social media is, and will be, an important component for all businesses.

Whether you are a bricks and mortar business or an online Internet-based business, chances are your sales will go up if you are marketing your business. There are many offline businesses that can effectively leverage social media to strengthen and grow their businesses in creative and effective ways. It’s about thinking outside the box.

Most importantly, your social media marketing must fit in with your overall business Marketing Plan. If you are ad-hoc in how you use social media to market your business then yes you will probably get ad-hoc results. Be sure to implement a Social Media Marketing Plan to ensure you get the most effective results for your business.

Many of the popular social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, all engage prospects and customers, grow the awareness and popularity of your business and inevitably boost your sales.

If you are serious about taking your business into the 21st century, then you will need to embrace social media. There are many ways that businesses can use social media to their advantage. Here are just a few:

* Be Present and Become and Expert:

The first step is to create your profiles on the various social media websites and then update them on a regular basis. You will need to check your accounts a couple of times a week to respond to comments from your followers. This a great way to build presence, to be seen as an expert and to build relationships with your followers. The more you update and are seen to be interactive with your followers, the stronger your business’s reputation will be.

* Educate Don’t Sell:

Social media is another way to build relationships with people, prospects and customers that you may not ever have otherwise been exposed to. So make the most of it. In today’s market, consumers are getting smarter, plus we live a world of mass advertising. The last thing you want to do is sell your products and services on social media. It’s about educating your fans. Every once in awhile you might promote a workshop or specíal deal. Educate more, Sell less. If people want to find out more about you and your products and services, they can visit your website.

* Get the Whole Company Involved:

If you have a staff, get them involved and task them to update your social media posts on a daily basis. This is an excellent morale booster and your staff’s involvement will strengthen your marketing effort and grow your business’s online exposure. A little suggestion – you might want to keep an eye on how much time your staff spends on social media and that it is for work and not personal purposes.

* Encourage People to Join You on Social Media:

Ask people to “Like” your social media pages. You can promote social integration on your business receipts, signs, brochures and invoices so that your existing customers will want to jump on the social media train as well. You can also ask your customers to check in to Foursquare or one of the other geo-location sites once they arrive in the general proximity of your store, offering them special promotions to entice them to come in.

* Keep an Eye on Your Competitors:

Social Media is a great medium to keep an eye on your competitors and stay ahead of the game. It is a great way to research whether your competitors are offering special promotions, how active they are on social media, who is following them and what they are saying. Always remember to stay on top of what your competition is doing by reading everything that they post. Remember that you and other businesses are always fighting to stay on top.

* Become a Community:

People want to feel like they belong to something i.e. a community. This is your job and social media provides a perfect platform for this. People are more likely to purchase from people They Know, They Like, and They Trust. The way to achieve this is by having live events at your store as well as events online. Promote unique deals, give advice and Be There for your community.

* Start Small:

If you don’t have any help in managing your social media accounts and you try to do it all by yourself, you may find that you aren’t doing it well or at all. Start with one and get comfortable with that. Make sure that you go for quality over quantity.

* Listen and Learn:

Are you aware of what your existing customers and potential customers are saying about your business, products and services, and brand? Pay special attention to the comments that people are posting online. It is also a good idea to set up Google alerts and to immediately handle issues as they occur. This is your chance to show people how much you care about them. Help them to solve their problems and address whatever concerns they have. Generally people are okay if a mistake is made, as long as you resolve it.

* Be Patient:

It takes time to see significant results with social media when it comes to the success of your business. Remember that your hard work will definitely pay off and the more relationships you build and the more you interact with others, the more interested other people will be in connecting with you again and again. It’s also important to remember that social media does provide a means for you to connect with people you might otherwise not ever have had the opportuníty to meet.

* Giveaways:

You can use social media to give away free products from your store. This is sure to attract attention. People will want to interact with you and will want to be the first to know when you introduce new products and services. Be careful, however, of not over doing the promotion and competitions.

Social Media is here. Many consumers are spending hours online, so it makes sense to have a presence as well for your business. The real results will come when you are strategic about your social media marketing. It’s all about taking your business into the 21st century. If you are ready to embrace it, so will your clients. Then watch your business grow.

About The Author
The Business Bootique is a dynamic Marketing & Sales business, helping passionate and committed businesses to grow, get more clients and have more time to reach a new level of success through personalized Marketing and Sales systems. If you want to learn more about how to grow your business, get your 7 Steps to a Fitter, Stronger, Bigger Business at www.thebusinessbootique.com.au

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Why Social Media Could Replace Traditional Search Engines

From a piece by Nick Stamoulis at Search Engine Optimization Journal

Social Media Marketing is growing rapidly. There are some experts out there putting forward the theory that it could eventually replace traditional search engines and here are some of the reasons why.

No Manipulation: Social media cannot be manipulated like search results can. You either communicate or you don’t.

Less Spam: Search results have a tremendous amount of spam that you usually have to open before you find out it is. Social media spam is at a much lesser amount, for now anyway!

Big Brands Using It: Every major big brand has adopted social media as a part of their marketing plan which is only going to grow stronger over time.

Nose End: Even though search is still very young social media is even younger. With the power that social media has built up since its initial rise who knows it might surpass search marketing over time.

More Options: With social media you have many different options on how to reach out to someone and communicate. Search only gives you two, organic and PPC.

Real Time: Social media is happening now. No publishing an article and waiting 2 months for someone to find it. Social media gives you instant interaction with your audience.

Human Factor: You know that with social media you have the ability to communicate with a human immediately. With search you communicate with a link and to some people that human factor has its weight in gold.

Search Ability: Many of the social network platforms are starting to have the ability to really be able to search right on their platform for a variety of different reasons. Some even pulling in direct search results right through their social networking platform.

Less Expensive (In some cases): When you start to compare certain pay per click costs to market a website in the search space it can get really expensive. With social media all you really need is time spent communicating online.

Brand Building: The social media space really allows you to build your brand online by showing your audience you have a personality and knowledge not just a web page of content.

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Social Media Marketing for Small Business

When you mention social media to small business owners, there is a strong misconception that it is some sort of get rich quick scheme, an instant method of getting you in contact with a whole bunch of potential clients who will all be clamouring to buy your product/service.

That’s the point at which I have to start explaining the basics about personal communication and connection, the sharing of free information and giving value, building trust before anyone will even think of going to your website to check out the products or services that you, as a small business, can offer.

Here’s a great article that explains the four types of social media tools and the best ways to use them if you want to succeed in marketing your small business through social media.

Social Media and Small Business

Unless you’ve been hunkered under a rock or in the back of a cave, you’ve at least heard the term “social media.” Depending on your perspective, social media either represents the fall of western civilization or the perfect marriage of people and technology.

The term “social media” actually refers to 4 specific types of tools.

The first type, “social connection sites” like Facebook and Linked In, allow users to make, share, build, and interact with social contacts online.

The second type, “social stream of consciousness” sites like Twitter, allow users to share their thoughts quickly and easily (regardless if anyone actually cares).

The third type of tool, “social bookmarking” sites such as Digg.com and Delicious.com, let users share and rate individual sites and other media.

The fourth type of social media tool involves sites like Kongregate.com or games such as Farmville which contain “social features” to link users together.

In theory, users of social media link up, interact, and use the sites and tools as their creators intended. And, if your intentions are strictly about keeping up with friends or professional contacts you actually know in the real world, you can easily use social media to do just that. However, once you try to go beyond just networking with people you know (and the people they actually know), the world of social media gets murky fast. Though powerful and effective when used correctly, social media quickly becomes a never-ending rabbit hole of time, energy, and effort, especially for small business owners.

If you want to use social media to build your small business, keep the following in mind at all times.

Create Dialogue

Most businesses mistakenly use social media as a one-way communication tool. In fact, this represents the core mistake anyone makes with social media. You must use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to create a real dialogue – a real exchange of communication. To do that, you can’t follow 20,000 people or have 50,000 friends. Bottom line, if the communication isn’t authentic, you’re fooling yourself that it’s actually worth doing in the first place.

Gather Intelligence

Members of your target audience hold the key to your success, not the other way around. Use social media communication to get direct input from people on your products and services. Get them to tell you their hopes, fears and problems and, more importantly, how you can help them. While building your following, you can use social media search tools (like twitter.com/search) to spot trends and problems you can solve.

Watch Your Time

Most of what you need to accomplish with Facebook and Twitter can happen in less than 15-20 minutes per day. Any more time than that is a waste of precious time. Until and unless you can track business directly to your social media activities, keep a tight rein on you time.

Share Value & Fun

The number one reason anyone sends their friends or comes back to you themselves is because of value. Always remember: nobody really cares about you and your business, they only care about what your business can do for them. Share information and news others can use and you’ll build a list of meaningful contacts. Put out a stream of useless drivel or “quotes of the day” and you might as well not even sign up for a Twitter account.

Bottom line: social media tools are just that, tools. You will not get rich overnight just because you signed up for a Twitter account, nor will you get inundated with business because you hang out a shingle on LinkedIn. You can, however, experience real results if you use these sites as originally intended: to create meaningful connections with real people.

About the Author
Jim Edwards http://www.smallbusinessmarketingweekly.com

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Google Reviews

My clients will tell you that I am always encouraging them to ask satisfied customers to post an online review.

With Google Places now publishing these reviews as part of your listing, it’s imperative to get some good feedback registered against your name.

But what if you get bad feedback? Well, you should certainly address any problems with your product or customer service straightaway but, if you look on Amazon, you will often see bad reviews along with good ones for even the best products. This shows that the reviews are not being fixed so that only positive comments appear. You’re not going to please all the people all of the time and getting a bad review now and then can make you seem more “real” than other companies – the odd bad review is not going to harm you.

Here’s a great article that explains the concept in a very easy to understand way.

Online Reviews for Local Businesses Becoming More Visible
A SPN Exclusive Article By Coleen Bennett (c) 2010

It’s no secret that satisfied customers bring you more sales, while unhappy customers can prevent sales. People who feel strongly about a service they receíved or a product they purchased are likely to tell others about their experience.

Before the internet, this effect was limited to word of mouth. A customer could tell his family, friends and co-workers about his great or terrible experience with your company. It took some effort on the customer’s part to get the word out, though, and many of them wouldn’t take the time. Very few of them took the time to write a letter to the business or even tell friends about it more than a few days after their interaction with a business. Only if they were extremely pleased or displeased would the word get out.

The growth of the internet has made it much easier to praise or complain about a company in a public place. There are many online directories that allow anyone to post a comment about a business. Not only does this allow a customer to make their opinion of your products and services known to many more people, it also opens the door to abuse. Business owners pretending to be customers can post positive reviews. Disgruntled employees can post negative reviews. There is no verification that the information posted is true.

All of those reviews are about to become ten times more visible to potential customers who are looking for a local business. Google Places, formerly Google Local Business Listings, has displayed reviews entered by users on their site and a number of other directories. Now Google is integrating information from the Google Places listing into the organic search. That’s right. You’ve worked hard to make sure that you are one of the first few listings that shows up when customers are looking for the services you provide in your area. Now, right next to the organic listing is a link to customer reviews. Immediately below your URL is your address and phone number from your Google Places listing. Often a snippet of a review is there too. If this happens to be a negative review, the potential customer will almost certainly click on a different listing. It’s the online equivalent of someone standing in front of your business with a sign telling people not to shop there.

What can you do about it? Google won’t remóve a negative review just because you ask them to. And they won’t take the time to find out whether the information is accurate. You must encourage positive reviews and address negative ones – with the customer and/or online.

Encourage Good Reviews

If there are more positive reviews than negative, there’s a better chance that a review that shows within the body of your listing will be good. Also, if a customer takes the time to look at several reviews, they may be swayed by the happy customers. You could encourage all of your customers to write an online review, but that will result in more negative reviews as well as positive. How can you approach only the satisfied customers with a request for an online review? Here are a few ideas.

Many businesses already have a system in place to solicit customer feedback, often in the form of a telephone follow-up or written questionnaire. You could sort out those who have responded favorably and send them a request for an online review. If your request is in the form of an email, you could provide links to your business’s listings on various sites that accept user reviews. You could provide something to your customer in return for taking the time to post a review. A free ice cream, 10% off their next purchase from you, or some other prize could entice them to make the effort and make them feel good about your business at the same time.

Address Damaging Reviews

If you can contact the unhappy customer and solve whatever problem he had, he may be willing to remove the negative review. Whether or not you think his complaint is valid, it’s in your best interest to fix it. This may cost you money, but not doing so could cost you even more. Think about how much you spend to bring in new customers. Don’t let a relatively small amount of money get in your way, even if the customer is wrong and you’re right.

Sometimes it will be impossible to get the customer to rescind his post. You can still mitigate the damage by responding to the complaint online. Post yóur own comment explaining the situation or apologizing to the reviewer and stating your offer to fix the problem. If a potential customer takes the time to read the whole story, they’ll see that you are trying to make your customers happy.

Occasionally, a review will violate the terms established by the review site, for example using foul language. If this is the case, you can flag the review and it may be removed.

Other Tips

Don’t enter multiple positive reviews yourself. Online directories try to prevent fraudulent reviews because they make their site less useful to their visitors.

Google Places displays reviews from sites such as Insider Pages and Yelp, as well as reviews posted directly to Google. If you ask your customers for positive reviews, give them links to a variety of review sites. It will look more natural if reviews come from more than one site.

It has always been important for a business to cultivate a good reputation, but not ever before has a dissatisfied customer been able to reach the public right alongside your advertisement. More and more consumers are bypassing the yellow pages and turning to their favorite search engine to find a business instead. You can no longer afford not to know what reviews are out there or to ignore dissatisfied customers. They have more power than ever before.

About The Author
10th Degree is a full service online advertising agency offering search engine optimization, media buying, ad planning and pay per click services. Visit us at www.10thdegree.com.

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