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Does Your Business Really Need A Social Media Presence?

Written by Kevin Wood

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Does Your Business Really NEED A Social Media Presence

Social media is one of the most talked about topics in the online world today. Soon we may even have children with social media accounts before they even begin to walk. With all the hoopla around social media and all the social media “experts” telling you which strategy you should employ it can be difficult to make a decision.

After all, social media is a huge investment of time and spending too much time going in the wrong direction can be deadly for your business. In this post we’re going to explore the benefits of social media to see if you even need to be active on social media for your business to succeed.

 

Understanding The Current Social Media Landscape

Social media seems to have transcended the trend status and all signs are suggesting it’s going to be around for good. The real reason social media gets confusing is because there are so many different channels to be on and be effective on.

The ways of communication across each channel differs greatly, and your core group of customers may not even be using the network that you’re trying to build an audience on.

The landscape is very diverse and requires that you pay attention to the networks you’re using and the reasons you’re using them. If you’re not aware of the time you’re spending chances are you’re going to be wasting it.

However, just because a lot of brands are using social media doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. For starters, if you’re just going to mimic the same strategy that everyone else is, then you’re better off not going on social media in the first place.

Fortune favors the bold and your social media strategy is no different.

 

Some Businesses Don’t Need To Use Social Media

Before we continue it’s important to dive into the reason your business might not need a social media strategy. Think of social media as a means to deliver your message. If it doesn’t align with your customer base, then don’t use it.

For instance, if you run a personal sailing school and most of your students tend to live in the local community you might be better off leaving flyers around town, or hanging out at the local docks. Sometimes offline marketing can be better for your specific business.

Social media is a means of marketing for your business, but if the people you’re marketing to don’t hang out there, then it doesn’t make sense being on social media.

However, for the vast majority of businesses who should be considering moving forward with a strategy there are a few things you should take into account.

 

Constructing An Effective Social Media Strategy

At the heart of any good social media strategy is a good business. If your business doesn’t inspire your customers, or communicate your business in a clear manner, then your social media strategy isn’t going to make your business an overnight success.

Think of social media as an amplifier of your business. So, if you have a captivating business, then executing your social media strategy will be much easier.

1. Maintain Consistency
Think of your business as a friend that you trust. This person is always honest and tries to be as clear as possible, and they do their best to not send you mixed messages.

You want your business to be the same way. When you’re communicating across social media platforms make sure your message and tone stays the same, and make sure you’re always honest and open. That way people are more likely to trust you and be open with you.

2. Speak To Your Market
We alluded to this earlier, but you need to be on the social media platforms where your audience hangs out; that’s the only way to reach them.

On some social media platforms you can be more friendly and down-to-earth, while others are more geared towards business-speak. Make sure you’re in line with the communication standards of the platform, while still being honest with yourself.

3. Be Unique
Face it, no one wants to read a boring post on social media. There’s enough garbage to scroll through most of the time anyways, and you don’t want to continue adding to the noise.

You don’t have to be sensational, but you can be honest and show what makes your business unique from your competitors.

 

Make sure you emphasize these traits and at the end of the day remember, you’re speaking to humans, so act like it.

Easy to Implement Local SEO Tactics For Small Business Owners

Written by Jessie Low

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

If you operate a local small business that is dependent on sales from customers in close vicinity, then implementing a local SEO campaign is extremely helpful to your business.

Benefits include:

  • Increase your local brand awareness
  • Target highly qualified traffic
  • Drives more store visits
  • Less competition than organic SEO

All of these factors lead to an increase in sales and have an impact on your bottom line. Here’s a basic checklist for a successful local SEO campaign.

 

Your Checklist To Local SEO Success

1. Optimize Your Website
Optimized Local Landing Page

  • Page Title Tags should:
    • Include your business name, keyword, and your city.
    • Not have the same title tag on every page.
    • Not be keyword stuffed.
    • Not be longer than 60 characters.
  • Enhance/Update homepage content.
  • Have separate product and/or service pages.
  • Add a customized location page. One for each location if you have more than one.

 
2. Implement Schema On Your Website
Schema Mark-Up Example

Add Schema Mark-Up to your website. Schema code helps search engines understand more quickly what your business does and where it does it. For example, make it easy for search engines to understand that you’re a lawyer in Chicago who deals in criminal law. Chances are you’re indexed faster and show up higher in the results.

 
3. Get a Google+ Local Listing & Optimize it
Google Local Listing Example

Have you claimed your listing? Great! No listing = No local ranking results in Google so go get listed now. An optimized Google+ local page entices potential clients and stands out against competitors.

Here are some best practices to follow for your Google+ listing:

Business Name – Add your official ‘doing business as’ (DBA) name.
Address – Format with U.S.P.S. guidelines.
Contact Info – Primary phone number should be your main landline.
Description – Create a unique and easy to read description of your business.
Photos – Add a profile photo, cover photo, and a few unique images of your business.

 
4. Get Local Business Listings (Citations)
Top 50 US Citations

Business directories (citations) are essential to your local SEO success. Make sure your NAP – Business Name, Address, and Phone Number – are consistent on all your listings. Search for citations in your industry and city, for instance join your local chamber of commerce.

Incorrect citations have a negative impact on your ability to rank locally. Search for any old/outdated citations, duplicates, or incorrect business listings that require updates or removal.

 
5. Get Reviews!
Get Reviews

Positive online reviews not only help your business establish trust and standout from the competition, but reviews also help you connect with your clients, improve your services and build your reputation. Review sites available to consumers are Google+, Yelp, Facebook, and industry specific sites like UrbanSpoon and Avvo.

Request customer feedback through: follow up emails, after you complete your service, on your receipts and invoices, or through a review management platform, place review site stickers in your store like, Find Us on Yelp, or Like Us on Facebook.

Respond to reviews, both positive and negative reviews. This shows your customers you’re listening and value their feedback.

 
6. Create Local Content
Create Local Content

Create local content that is relevant to your business and the city you live in. For example, talk about local events you’re involved in or review local events. If you are part of a local charity, tell your customers about it, use images, and link to the charity.

There’s endless opportunities when you use creative thinking about the events and businesses in your area of town.

 
7. Find Local Link Opportunities
Local Link Building

Positive local links that point to your website impacts your sites ability to rank well geographically. It may seem challenging at first, but there are many ways to acquire links.

Not sure where to start? Brainstorm and evaluate what you already do as a company, for example:

  • Do you have any local partnerships or business relationships?
  • Are you a member of any business communities?
  • Have you hosted an industry meet-up?

Still stuck in the brainstorming department? Review this guide to local link building.

 

Finishing Up

This checklist is intended to help you successfully implement a local SEO campaign for your business. This is a great starting point for any business owner looking to enhance their current online marketing strategy from a local standpoint.

 

*****

Whitespark is an online marketing company that builds specialized software and provides services to help businesses manage their local search. We constantly develop and grow our business to ensure our clients receive intelligent and viable marketing solutions.

Determining When To Enact Change

Written by Brandi Bennett

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Nothing stays the same forever, and neither should your website. It’s important to constantly work to improve the content and quality of your website, but how do you determine when change is necessary? What changes should you make? These are both valid questions, and while we cannot provide you with all the answers, as some of that will depend on your client base, profit margins, and the like, we can offer you some tips as to when you should start looking to change things up.

 

Updates

This is huge. When you receive a notification that your site or any of the different programs, applications, widgets, templates, etc. that you use has an update available, do it. These updates are typically designed to address vulnerabilities. Your site needs to stay up to date. Make the change. Update your site. Your customers, your tech support, your staff, and your pocketbook will all thank you. It can be disastrous to fail to do this one simple step.

Granted, these changes will likely not bear any visible changes to your site, but they will keep the back-end safe which is just as important.

 

What About The Rest of It?

If you’re blogging, try to update at least two to three times per week. More if you like, but at least weekly updates are ideal. Keep new content coming and you will have repeat readers. If you have an e-commerce site, keep it constantly flowing – add new products or services. Change product descriptions to make them sound catchier if you notice a particular item isn’t selling.

You can even poll your customers regarding changes that they would like to see on your site and then determine how you would like to go from there. Not all the ideas are going to be ones that you will implement, but if half a dozen people tell you that they want the search options updated, there’s a good chance you should get on that. If you have no suggestions, go look at your site from a customer’s point of view. See the site as they would see it, try to see it as if you are seeing it for the first time. See where it looks cumbersome, see what you did well. Try to remove the clunky and the cumbersome and try to work to ensure that what you did well is done well everywhere. If you really like the way one item page looks and flows, try to replicate it on the others.

 

It’s Natural

It’s natural to not want to update your site (the “set it and forget it” mentality), and you don’t have to update everything. If you like your background color or the template you’re using, keep it. If you’re using a black background and neon pink text, you may want to consider changing it to something easier to read, however. The Internet is constantly evolving, and your site should be as well. In working to determine the different things you like about other sites, you may find things you want to change about your own site. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Change is not a bad thing. Keep things fresh and your content up to date and attention grabbing and your website will flourish!

 

Image Source: Jelly Ranger. (2014). Future Self. Retrieved from http://jellyranger.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/futureself.jpg

Are You Making These 5 Common Website Mistakes?

Written by Kevin Wood

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Are You Making These 5 Common Website Mistakes

As a website owner you’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure your website is doing as much as it can to convert new visitors into subscribers and potential customers. A lot of websites try to do too much and as a result they end up doing nothing at all. Your website should be elegant, purposeful, and directed towards your core group of users.

It’s easy to make mistakes. We all do. However, some common website mistakes are avoidable, or can be fixed with a little more hard work. In this we’re going to explore the five most common website mistakes a lot of website owners make.

 

1. Lack Of Direction And No Coherent Focus

I’m sure you’ve been to websites in the past that are very confusing and leave you in a frazzled state. On a sad note, most of the web is like this and it leads to information overwhelm and downright confusion. Our minds aren’t meant for the dizzying pace of the web and a lot of websites actually make this worse.

There are many ways to do this, but some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Weird or cluttered navigation
  • A site that aims to please everyone in the world
  • Strange color scheme
  • No coherent direction or sequence of steps for the user to take
  • Design that is out of alignment with the message of the company

When a person lands on your website you’ll want them to be able to determine, in a matter of seconds, if you’re going to be able to help them or not. This is done through purposeful design and an understanding of who your customer actually is.

Nailing down your focus has to do with simplifying your offering as a business and communicating it in a simple manner to your core group of customers. When in doubt choose one element to be the highlight of your business and do it well.

 

2. Too Much Focus On The Company, Not The User

No one wants to land on your website and hear about how great your business is, at least not at first. The first thing a person landing on your website wants to know is if you can help them.
Once they’ve determined you can help them reach the magical land where their problem is solved, then they’ll start to look deeper into your company. However, this can still be done strategically to make sure you’re not bragging.

The number one page people go to after the home page is the about page. This means you have another chance to convince the visitor you’re the right person for the job.

The best way to do this is by adjusting your copy to show you deeply sympathize with the user and their problem. Next, make sure to bring in relevant experience that shows you actually know what you’re talking about. You can even bring in testimonials and other forms of social proof, so people know they’re not alone in working with you.

 

3. No Incentives To Draw In Customers

A lot of website owners try to get people to opt-in without providing an incentive to do so. As inboxes are becoming more and more sacred you’ll need to do something special for the visitor to get them to part with their information.

One of the best ways to do this is by creating a free download that solves a portion of the visitors problem. This should be enough to get the visitor to opt in. From that point on you can work on building the relationship and converting them into a long-term customer.

 

4. Looking Good Across One Device And One Device Only

Mobile is becoming more and more prevalent. It isn’t going anywhere. All trends and statistics suggest that mobile is the future. It’s a smart idea to make sure your website works across every device your customers are going to be using.

That doesn’t mean you have to upgrade your design right away, but if your website looks funky or doesn’t function properly across the most common screen sizes then you may want to consider a change.
Responsive websites are slowly becoming the new norm, so it would be a good idea to switch over sooner rather than later.

 

5. No Relevance

Relevance has to do with how valuable you are to your visitors. This is the test your should be running for every element of your website.

If it doesn’t provide value to your readers, then cut it. Being ruthless with what’s useful and what isn’t may feel a little harsh, but it will allow you to have a website that’s more streamlined to serve your customers.

 

By avoiding the mistakes above you’ll be on your way towards having an efficient website that is geared towards the only people that matter, your customers.