Your small business and social media

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Starting up a small business is no easy task, but with the help of social media, you’re able to get your name and message out into the public’s eye easier than in the past. If you’re just now entering your business into social media, there are definitely a few things you should know first. Here are some tips on how to help start an online conversation about your company, with a little help from Whirlocal.

Your company site should link to a company blog. And yes, you do have to maintain both of them! While your company website will help to promote your business, what you do, and how to contact you; your blog will help with the personal stuff. Your customers want to hear from real people, and blogging is just the way to do that. I use WordPress for my personal blog, and would suggest it to anyone starting their own. Blogging can increase your SEO and Google rankings, and getting to the top of that Google search page is very important.

Realize now that customer reviews count. A business with poor online reviews is probably losing a ton of potential new customers. You want to encourage customer reviews, especially from the customers that rave about your business; you can do this by simply asking the customer to write a review or by creating links to review your business on your company site. You want to get on sites like Google, Yelp, Yahoo and Bing; these sites get the most traffic when it comes to reviews. I would suggest emphasizing Google and Yelp. It also helps to respond to reviews, especially the ones that don’t show your company in the best light. If someone writes a bad review, responding with a solution to the problem can make that bad review not look so bad anymore. This will show potential customers that you can own up to your mistakes and are willing to listen and fix them.

Social Media is a must. Get on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and do everything you can to get your name out there- just don’t do it aimlessly. Have a social media strategy and focus on what each social media platform can do for your business, because each one is different.  This may be time consuming, but if you do it right, in the end it will be well worth it.

If you want people to contact you, you have to make it easy. Make your contact information easily accessible on your website, blog and all of your social media channels. Put it where they’d have to be blind not to see it! However, being accessible isn’t all you need to do. You need to respond to people in a timely manner. Don’t let emails sit for longer then 16 hours, that’s almost too long; by then your potential customer may have already moved on. Instantaneous responses show that you care about their business and that you’re available to them whenever they need you.

These are just a few tips; building an online presence for your business won’t happen overnight. Engage with your customers in a way that makes them want to come back, and want to tell their friends and family about your services. Make what you do online interesting, be patient and most of all, be persistent.

This post can also be read on Marketing Conversations and Business 2 Community.

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The NHL has a new social media policy

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

To every employee working a desk job with a boss who doesn’t allow you to log into Twitter or any other social networking sites, you are not alone. In fact, it isn’t just desk jockeys who aren’t allowed to Facebook or tweet during their downtime at work; The NHL has implemented a new policy regarding social media as well.  Players will not be allowed to post anything to social networking sites two hours before their game starts, during their game and not until after all their media obligations are fulfilled post game.

The NHL is a little slow on its game to implement a social media policy.  The NBA and NFL have had policies on this same issue for nearly two years, in an effort to keep players focused on their respective sports.  The new NHL regulations are stricter than those of the NFL, which prohibits social media 90 minutes before the game, during the game and until all media obligations are fulfilled; and stricter still than the lenient 45 minute blackout windows before and after NBA games.

Players can expect a hefty fine if caught breaking the policy; it doesn’t only apply to the players but coaches and team personal as well. The Dallas Mavericks coach, Mark Cuban was hit with a $25,000 fine when he tweeted about a ref’s “bad call” in a match up against the Denver Nuggets, when he thought J.R. Smith should have been called for a technical foul.

So don’t expect to see your favorite pro athletes tweeting from the sidelines anytime soon.  No matter how much we love these live updates from the floor, we’ll have to wait until after the game to hear their comments. Athletes nowadays should probably be focusing a little more on the game, anyway.

Read this on Marketing Conversation and Business 2 Community too!

How to Increase your Blog Comments

September 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

Like facebook and Twitter, blogs should be used as a platform for interaction and conversation with your readers. Blogs shouldn’t be used to talk at your readers, but instead, talk with them. Increasing the number of comments on your blog can help to generate more views, in turn, increasing the conversations.  Here are some tips on how to increase your blog comments, based off of the Social Media Examiner.

Make it easy to leave a comment. Is there a large comment link on your site, or do readers need to search for it? If your readers can’t easily submit a comment, they’re not going to. The only downside to this is if you make commenting too easy, you’ll end up getting a lot of spam comments. To prevent spam, you should check the comment settings for your blog and make sure the commenter has to include their name and email address with the comment. This will help to prevent spammers from overloading your page. You may also want to change your comment settings so that all comments need to be approved by you before they are published on your site.

Ask for comments. This may seem like a simple fix, but when you ask a reader, “What do you think?” at the end of a post, they will be more likely to respond via comments. You can also change the generic “Leave your comment here” to, “Let me hear your thoughts” or something else along those lines.

Respond to comments. This goes back to that conversation piece above. Your blog needs to be a conversation where people feel like they won’t be ignored if they do decide to tell you what they think. Responding to comments shows viewers that people are engaged on your site, which could make them more inclined to join the conversation.

Don’t be rude. It’s ok to disagree with your commenters; it’s not ok to be to mean about it. Controversy adds interest, and more people are likely to chime in and give their opinion if they see a debate going on through comments. The key is to not let it get out of hand. You, as a blogger, need to make people feel good about their comments, not put down by your response. If a commenter feels like they are being put down they probably won’t ever comment on your page again, and may not even come back to view it.

You need to engage with your readers and make them feel like they are an important part of the conversation. Without them your blog would be just you, talking to yourself… no one wants that. So, tell me what you think. How do you engage with your readers? What works for you and what doesn’t?

Read this post on Marketing Conversation and Business 2 Community too!

5 New Ways to Use Twitter

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Twitter, what’s the point? Isn’t that basically facebook but only status updates?” Commonopinions when discussing Twitter with those odd twitter-less folks. I mean, do we really want to know what people had for lunch and when they’re going to sleep? However;  beneath the surface of all the mundane, unimportant posts, what’s left is engaging and thought provoking.  Oddly enough, there are users out there tweeting things you care about; you just have to find them.

Likeable shares 5 Ways You Should Be Using Twitter, But Probably Aren’t

Join the conversation:

Of the 18 million users in the Twitter community, many will share your same interests; you just have to find them. For instance, if you love Desperate Housewives, there are thousands of other people on Twitter talking about the latest show. Once you type “Desperate Housewives” in the search bar, you can join the conversation- talk about how crazy Susan was acting, or how much you love Gabby’s latest dress. Here are some tips for finding people with the same interests as you.

Find cool new places:

Find new places in your town. Do you think you’ve seen everything there is to see where you’re living? Well, I bet someone else has found something you haven’t, and they’re probably talking about it on Twitter right now. Send out a post asking your followers where to find the best drink specials or the best park to walk your dog; you can even search for your city and see what everyone else is talking about. There is a lot of information out there that you have yet to see, and people are just waiting to give you great advice!

Get free stuff:

We’re all familiar with the marketing schemes of the online contests asking for your phone number in order to win a free car- but you’re left dealing with telemarketing calls for the next year. No one’s asking for your phone number on Twitter, they’re only asking for follows and retweets. With just a simple click of the mouse you can win tons of free stuff. Always wanted an iPad? Twitter may have the most cost effective way to get one, that’s right, for free!

Don’t rely on Google:

Google everything? Now, you don’t have too. You can get almost any question you have answered on Twitter. Instead of reading a generic restaurant review online, ask Twitter and get real time answers from people just like you. Using popular hashtags makes your post visible to the people you want to reach, which helps generate a larger response. The power of social search is constantly growing, and crowd sourcing becomes more reliable every day.

Get great deals:

Do you already follow your favorite store? If not, now may be the time to start. Get great deals and coupons from the stores you shop at the most. Not only does following the store get you great prices, but so do their Twitter accounts dedicated to giving out great deals, such as @searsdeals and @kmartdealsnnews. Get your daily deals for these accounts and never pay full price at your favorite store again!

We forget that Twitter is multi-faceted and a great resource for a variety of conversations. Experience Twitter on a new level and take advantage of all its perks. All it takes is 140 characters to be a part of the buzz and a part of the community. Make those 140 characters count.

This post was originally written for www.marketingconversation.com

Why PR should own Social Media

September 7, 2011 § 1 Comment

Here at Abraham Harrison, we know the importance of social media in a public relations campaign. Many PR agencies use social media in their campaigns to help gain awareness for their client’s brand and product. However, campaigning through social media cannot simply be done by just anyone with a facebook account, at least not successfully. You need to have a social media strategy, know the people you want to connect with, and not under or overload the public with your message.

With social media booming as a way to market to your publics, PR needs to own up to the responsibility of integrating social media into their campaigns. PR and social media go hand in hand; you can’t be successful with only one. Just because social media is a newer marketing tool doesn’t mean you can throw all the old tools out the window; just the same, you can’t get away with only marketing through events and advertising without using social media. From the World Internet Stats, 30.2% of the worldwide population is using the internet. With this number continually growing every day, why would any PR professional pass up this ideal platform to market their client’s product?

Many people don’t know how to successfully market online. You have to develop a strategy to promote your client; you can’t just blindly create a twitter account and expect it to have a positive impact on the brand. With a social media strategy you want to connect with the early adopters, the online creators and the critics. These are the people who are going to write about your client’s product and help generate awareness. Word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to market a product, and the people reading online reviews are more likely to believe the average blogger than a company representative. Therefore, the PR agents need to connect with the bloggers, creators and critics as they test out and promote the brand and product.

Social Media Specialists are taking over the PR world. They are gaining awareness about their client’s brand and products, most of the time with a cheaper price tag then the “old fashioned” PR tactics. It’s time to reposition yourself in the PR world and try some new tactics, if you haven’t already. Familiarize yourself with this online world. Embrace it. Accept it. Social media is the new now; don’t get left behind.

Read this post on Marketing Conversations and Business 2 Community too!

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