Category Archives: Social Media

Utilizing the Internet to Market Your Small Business

The Internet may be the largest publicly accessible toolbox known to man, so why not use it to grow your business? Easier said than done I suppose. With so many available options, how do you know which tools to use and which ones to avoid? This article will teach you how to master the synergistic effects of Internet advertising to grow your small business effectively.

Start a website (or a blog!)

A website allows you to inform your clientele about your business. Furthermore, a website can be used for many purposes relating to your business. It can be used to communicate news and messages with clients that visit your page, to sell products or to express information about your business. A website is the ultimate tool to interact with your clientele in a way that reaches many people and helps move your business forward.

Despite the advantages of starting a website for your business, maintaining and updating a website can be difficult and tedious for those who are not familiar with HTML or web design. This can translate to more business expenses as you will need to employ someone to maintain your website. A simpler alternative is to start a blog. Blogs are much simpler to maintain than a website for someone with no web design experience.

Having a blog is not the same thing as having a website, although a blog can be equally effective if used properly. A blog acts more like a message board where the blogger can communicate whatever he or she wishes about a topic. The topic for an entrepreneur would be his or her business. It is important to blog within the scope of your business. Blogs can be used to communicate deals or events, post new job openings within your business or virtually anything in between so long as it’s business related.

Interact over social media

A social media account for your business is a step in the right direction, but is not an equal substitute to a website or a blog. Rather, a social media account should act as a way to attract people’s attention to your business and to steer them towards your website or blog. People cannot use your small business if they do not know it exists, and the same goes for your website. Posting on social media in tandem with a business website or blog can greatly improve your client base, although simply opening a Facebook or Twitter account will not suffice. You need to post and tweet continually!

Maximize social media effectiveness

Do you ever wonder how Facebook knows which posts to show on your homepage or which friends to suggest? It seems like this website understands your social network better than you do. That’s because social media websites track your activity using algorithms. Algorithms are essentially flowcharts that tell the social media program how to proceed when the user makes a specific choice. In turn, your preferences are tracked and the website knows which information to show you based on those preferences. Knowledge about social media algorithms can be used to increase the prominence of your businesses Internet presence. The name of the game is to make friends of your friends your friends.

The first rule of social media algorithms is to post frequently. By posting frequently, you open the doors for people to see your posts or tweets. Frequency of posting is important because old posts are less likely to turn up on users’ feeds because the priority of your post decays with time. In addition, when people see and like your posts, their friends may see your message and learn about your business.

Pro Tip**: When possible, insert videos and photos into posts or tweets. Photos and videos carry greater weight, or importance, in social media algorithms and are more likely to reach more people.

The second rule of mastering social media algorithms is to like posts and follow people. By liking posts and following other businesses and people, posts are more likely to appear on your feed, and as such, you will be able to comment on what is happening with your clientele. By interacting with more people, you increase the presence of your business in the community.

The third rule of mastering social media algorithms is to comment. By commenting on posts or tweets related to your community, your business and other businesses, potential customers are more likely to learn about your business.

When people visit your social media page, they should have the option to visit your webpage. This is the ultimate goal of social media. When people browse social media, their focus is divided between all their friends and every business that reaches them. Social media should be used as a pathway to direct traffic towards your website or blog, and not the reverse. When people visit your webpage, their sole focus is your business, which is the best way to gain a new customer.

 

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Laws of Social Media

Social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base but without any previous experience, getting started could be challenging.

Here are social media marketing fundamentals that will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and your bottom line.

  1. Law of Listening

Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions. This will help you create content and conversation that is valuable to your customers.

  1. Law of Focus

You will have a better chance of success if you build a strong brand rather than a broad strategy that attempts to attract and please everyone.

  1. Law of Quality

It is better to have 500 online connections that read and share your content with their audiences than 5,000 connections that only connect with you once.

  1. Law of Patience

Social media marketing success doesn’t happen overnight, commit to the long run to achieve your goals.

  1. Law of Compounding

Your audience will share your content with their own audiences if you are publishing quality content and work to build your online audience.

  1. Law of Influence

Find online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and would be interested in your product or service.

  1. Law of Value

Focus on adding value to the conversation, creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers.

  1. Law of Acknowledgement

Building relationships is an important part of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge everyone that reaches out to you.

  1. Law of Accessibility

Be available to your audience. Publish content consistently and participate in conversations.

  1. Law of Reciprocity

It is important to spend some time sharing and talking about content published by others in hopes of getting the same in return.

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Including Hashtags in your Social Media Marketing

Whether you’re active on social media for personal reasons or for business, if you’re looking to attract attention- hashtags are one way to do to so. Since their initial appearance in 2007, hash tags have become one of the best ways to discover new content and put yourself out there on an international level. Whether they are used on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram or Vine, this current trend is a great way to connect with others and lead to an increase in revenue.

You’ve likely encountered hashtags as of late since they are practically everywhere. But for those of you who are just starting out, hashtags are a word or a group of words that will follow the pound (#) symbol (for example #summer). You can hashtag your brand so that users worldwide can showcase their purchases from your product or service. Highlight and repost those reviews for optimal results and active engagement.

We’ve written blogs in the past regarding hashtagging on Instagram and Twitter, but recently Facebook has adopted the method as well. When you hashtag on Facebook, your post is visible to people who will be interested in your business: a great way to target your niche market.

Some things to keep in mind when using the hashtag feature:

1. Always capitalize the #FirstLetterInEachWord – this will make your hashtag more readable and will further drive your point.

2. Try to not to include too many words in your hashtag—it will be much more beneficial for you to concentrate on specific words that will apply to your business. You will notice that in doing so you will have an easier time reaching your target market.

3. Ensure that they are relevant– while it may be tempting to hashtag everything that comes to mind, you may end up sacrificing your credibility and professionalism.

If you aren’t quite comfortable with using hashtags, try checking out some of your own favourite businesses to see how they are working with this technique, or contact the Business Enterprise Centre for more assistance.

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Tips for Optimizing your Facebook Marketing

Everyone can attest to the powers of Facebook. For some, there is no greater feeling than connecting with friends or family to share significant life events such as a nostalgic photograph, or to shed light into that phenomenal wedding that perhaps not everyone could attend. Although some may not admit it at first, this connectedness to the social media platform can be quite addictive. Without even realizing it, some users may blink and recognize they have spent upwards of an hour browsing through content. For business owners, this active engagement can mean everything. But the question isn’t whether your business is currently active on Facebook (for without it, frankly, you may as well not exist), but the real question resides in whether you are effectively utilizing every technique to ensure that a click turns into a customer. Neglect certain areas, and you could be missing out on great opportunities.

Recognized as the largest social network, Facebook stands its ground as the ruler of all social media. With over 1 billion users worldwide, this data network is easily one of the best marketing platforms to keep customers informed and to strengthen your brand identity. If you have already established a Facebook business page, you will have likely noticed that sometimes it’s hard to make yourself noticed in the pool of users.

Here are some tips for optimizing your Facebook page:

  1. Include content on your page. You will want the personality of your business to radiate on your page… beyond the products and services that you will be offering. Facebook can have certain blog-like properties, and thus keeping your viewers engaged and entertained should be in the forefront. To do so, you may wish to include interesting and relevant content, or maybe a funny photo to maintain viewership and increase awareness of your page. Bear in mind that while you may find certain content enjoyable, ensure that your posts are relevant to your target audience or has some link to your business.
  2. Implement Facebook contests. To increase fans and brand awareness, in addition to generating likes to your page, consider running Facebook contests. Unfortunately, Facebook itself does not generate contests. In other words, asking for people to like your page will not automatically enter them into your promotion. There are, however, a plenitude of outside third-party apps for creating Facebook contests. Shortstackis a free online contest template that is accessible to users with 2,000 likes or less. Another is Pagemodo that also has an option for free usage as well.
  3. Consider marketplace advertising. There are customizable forms of advertising that can appear on the side columns of the Facebook page. Typically, these will include a headline with a brief description of your business accompanying an image associated to your brand. These can be tailored to demographics, and according to a maximum budget.
  4. Incorporate promoted posts: To gain insight into how much viewership you have accumulated on the content you are posting, you can access the admin panel of your page. Here you will be able to see how many people have viewed your post based on its total reach. To extend its reach, you can also select the option to promote your posts. This will allow you to choose a maximum budget and will automatically sync your page for increased traffic. This can also be customized to cater to an appropriate location, demographic, and gender in addition to specific interests.

Always remember that while it’s important to include content on your Facebook page, ensure that your personal life and your business profile do not cross paths. While your friends may be interested in personal events, the same may not be the case in your professional life. For this reason, you will want to ensure that the two are on two separate playing fields.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on using Google analytics!

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@Twitter Basics for #smallbusiness- Part 2

Last week we discussed how to use Twitter for your small business. Today we will discuss how you can use Twitter to maximum your message.

Like any type of social media, you should use Twitter on a regular basis in order for it to be effective.  In other words, create a social media plan for updating your Tweets. If you plan your tweets out, it will give you more time to use other Twitter features.

For example, it is important to take a look at what is currently trending on Twitter. This is a great opportunity to join a larger conversation about important industry related topics.

Likewise, someone you follow on Twitter may Tweet a message your followers might find interesting. Sharing their message with your followers is called a Re-Tweet. Make sure your Re-Tweets are quality posts that provide your followers with value.

Lastly, make sure that you use the Twitter hashtag # and connect @ symbols in your tweets. What exactly do these tweets mean?

@: Use this symbol to link your tweet to a Twitter user. Your tweet will then appear on their Twitter page.

Ex.  Enjoyed a great E-Biz Seminar this aft @CornwallBiz

#: Use this symbol to make your Tweets part of a larger conversation about the subject you are Tweeting about.

Ex. New grant program available for Ontario #smallbusiness

Anything can be made into a hashtag  # whereas the @ connect symbol can only be used to link to existing Twitter accounts.

Once you create a Twitter account, test these features out! If you make a mistake you can always delete it.

For more information on using Twitter for your business, check the Twitter guides found on their website or contact the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre.

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@Twitter Basics for #smallbusiness- Part 1

Twitter is a very popular social media tool for business owners. It’s quick, immediate and people tend check it daily. In just 140 characters you can potentially reach hundreds of followers.

Twitter also has a language of its own. In my experience, this is the reason why many business owners feel uncomfortable using Twitter. What do the @ and # symbols mean? What is a tweet? What is a trending topic? Understanding and using these simple Twitter tools can greatly enhance your business profile. Twitter

What is important to remember is that it IS possible to maneuver Twitter and use it to its full potential, whether you are a beginner or advanced social media user.

In this two part blog entry we will explore the basics of Twitter and explain definitions so that you can begin Tweeting away!

According to its website, Twitter is a “real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting. Simply find the accounts you find most compelling and follow the conversations.”

Like other types of social media, you can follow other Twitter users (ie. Your friends, celebrities, businesses, industry leaders) to follow the Tweets (aka messages) they send out. You will notice that their tweets may contain a link to an external website or photo.

You can search for Twitter users or keywords by using the search bar found on the top of your Twitter account. Tweets (aka status messages) from your followers are found on your homepage.

Some Twitter users set their privacy settings high, so that they must confirm you as a follower. Others have open Twitter profiles where they accept all followers.

Likewise, you can also send out your own Tweets that your followers will view on their homepage. This is where you can share interesting information on your business including updates, promotions, tips or anything else related to your business.

Now that you understand the very basics of Twitter, how do you use more advanced Twitter tools? Stay tuned for next week’s blog entry on how to use intermediate Twitter tools effectively. Twitter bird

For more information, please visit www.twitter.com or follow the CBEC on Twitter @CornwallBiz

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Handling Negativity on Social Media

Social Media is very useful for connecting your business to your clients and customers. As great as it is to engage with your customers, social media does provide a platform for your customers to provide both positive and negative feedback.

Dealing with negativity is something all business owners must learn to handle. In the past, business owners received these types of comments through 1-800 telephone lines, comment cards or in direct conversation. With the increase in technology, customers can provide feedback on the web, specifically through email and social media websites.

What is most unique about social media feedback is that the comments are public. It is not a private discourse, and it is how you handle this negativity that will strongly represent your business.

So, what are some of the ‘Do’s and ‘Don’t s’ for handling negativity on social media?

DO: Respond

Offer your client/customer a solution. Let them know that you are listening and want to help as best you can. Admit your mistake if appropriate. Depending on the level of the situation, offer to speak with them directly over the phone to find a way to improve the situation.

DO: Offer Help

Even if you feel the comment is unmerited, keep in mind that how you respond will affect your image and brand. So, what can you do to resolve the situation?

DON’T: Delete the comment

Deleting the comment will fuel even more negativity. Social media is a platform for relevant discourse regarding your business; this discourse might be positive or negative. It is important to respond.

That being said, some social media websites offer ‘profanity filters’ that can allow you to set up security levels regarding words that cannot be posted on your page. If you are a family oriented business, you will not want certain words being posted on your social media platform. Enabling a profanity filter will allow your customers to type feedback, but will also monitor the types of words used.

Be sure to monitor the comments being posted on your social media. If you don’t monitor your social media accounts, you won’t know what your customers are saying and how you can best respond in a timely fashion.

For more helpful tips on how to handle negativity on social media and identifying types of negativity, please visit:

How to Deal with Negative Feedback in Social Media

 

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