What’s All This About Social Media? Are You Missing the Train?

social media on potato chip bag

Take a look at this photo. It’s a bag of potato chips. Look closer. Do you see their social media properties printed on the back? It was important enough to this company to add social profiles to their packaging. They’re taking advantage of the opportunity social media gives them to interact with their customers in a way that was not possible ten or fifteen years ago. Is your business leveraging social media?

Even for small companies or those just starting out, social media offers benefits. Accounts are free and with even a small investment in time you can do a lot for your business.

The time is now for companies to add social media to the top of their list of things to do, but deciding on a game plan requires a couple of considerations. One, how will social media affect or reflect on your business? Also, what are the downsides of not engaging in social media? Different businesses may see different results from social media, but studies have shown that almost 80% of small- to medium-sized firms have gained an upwsing in website visits by employing social media sites. Results may vary, of course.

Various surveys have been performed on the quantity of people today that use social media websites and the way they can have an effect on internet marketing methods. One such study confirmed that eighty-four percent of U.S. firms felt it in their best interests to develop new strategies to interact with their audience, customers or potential customers, utilizing tools like social media and mobile marketing and advertising. As evidenced by our potato chip bad, it’s apparent that social media is firmly cemented into the lives of a vast majority of American consumers and companies. Millions either log in to their Facebook account to give updates on their status (whether wanted by the rest of us or not) or they’ll tweet something on Twitter. For better or worse, the current presidential campaign has shown just how important social media can be due to Donald Trump’s heavy Tiwtter usage. Looking at Facebook’s recent Q1 financials, 665 million used the social media giant each day. Think about this staggering number. Consider it as a potential customer base and consider also how much potential revenue you are losing by not being plugged in to social media.

Looking at a 2008 social media study, we find other staggering statistics:

60% of U.S. residents use social media

90% of well-known corporations are present on social media

85% of those companies use their social media as a method of interaction with their customers

The survey also found that consumers and businesses use social media to aid them in the following areas:

-Solving a problem (43%)
-Getting feedback or consumer suggestions (41%)
-Buyer interaction with a company (37%)
-For branding or marketing to consumers (twenty five%)

With statistics like these it’s easy to see why companies seek to leverage the use of social media. If consumers search these companies out on social media websites, it is a good indication they really want to communicate with a company. It is a signal that should be ignored at peril. Businesses will need social media because their consumers live there. As we mentioned before, all that’s required is sign up for an account (or accounts), make good use of images, update continuously, and be prepared to communicate with customers.

This is the way things work now. Entities like Facebook and Twitter are not going away and will continue to be an essential part of business for the foreseeable future.

Online Marketing with Business Directory sites: Financially rewarding and Effective

Online Marketing: Is it for You? (It should be!)

Efficient advertising and marketing medium like papers, preferred publications or television are essential for increasing a company’s visibility. For tiny companies, particularly for those that are merely beginning, marketing via these tool could be also costly. What’s a great alternative? Ta-da! Online marketing.

Online Marketing 101

Online marketing has many facets. With the web, there are economical yet already effective ways to acquire complimentary (read: FREE) advertising. First look to thyself. Does your local business should have a website? If not, you’re behind the curve. Invest in it now. The rewards are legion. You need a presence online. Enough said.

One extremely effective method to enhance your company image promptly however not investing too much is through having your business’s internet address included in on an on-line company directory ASAP. Actually, you could have it placed on several directories, repetitively. Your site will start it’s journey to Google’s coveted page one and will also begin to draw in a number of possible customers.

Some food for thought: you may not be aware that placing yourself in an on-line company directory site can be a rewarding experience. It can be. You have to first recognize what its advantages are and how you can obtain more search engine optimization significance for it. After that, and with some effort, you may discover that it is without a doubt a financially rewarding endeavor.

There are many website-owning businesses that wish to use their business as an advertising and marketing method on online business directory sites. Those that do are called competitors. They’re there. You should be too! Online business directory sites are much like yellow page websites. They are a great asset for both searchers and companies alike since yellow page-type websites provide your URL but also your physical address. Don’t forget most searches are local. The more you can get your business and address in front of searchers the better.

Various other online business directories listing web sites like this. This method improves the chance that company sites, even tiny ones, show up on their target consumers’ local search.

By themselves, tiny mom and pop business websites would not really be able to reach the vaunted page one, given that they may only have 5-10 pages. Their online marketing efforts are by necessity small. Therefore, on-line company directory advertising and marketing web sites are truly helpful and should be looked into.

As online company directory sites garner more recognition amongst web users, even more businesses are making sure they are included on them. By having a business website here, they can establish their brands, offer customers most recent info regarding their business as well as (probably most important), entice new customers.

Numerous on-line company directories inlcude sites for free. Some may ask for reciprocal links. When an online company directory achieves an excellent position, particularly on significant search engines, they might then start to bill for listing with them. Listing often is classified from the most simple, basic listing on up the food chain to include other listing possibilities, like affixing a business logo, offering a direct connection to the web site, and also maps/directions to the business physical location.

There are also updating possibilities. Larger online company directory site services may supply a premium subscribing (e.g. paying) company’s website a more prominent listing, online coupons, some sort of e-commerce or traffic or click analysis.

Among the qualities of a great online company directory is its excellent reputation. You have to understand that it is really critical to have a logical structure for your directory, if you are running a local home based business directory. Having a great directory structure makes users searches more effective and faster–making it easy for them to locate just what they need when they need it.

Having an organized business directory means things are all in one place (easy to navigate) and makes it easy to have a back up submit for it. Like organizing a real kitchen cupboard, you could have your online company directory site organized in 3 levels. The data cupboard itself is the very first level, 2nd is the data cabinets the third is the data folders.

Understand that whatever end of the interaction with this site you are looking at (you, the owner or your potential customer searching for your service), for a small business sites, deciding to have that site in the list of an on-line business directory, or a directory site supplying complimentary/paid listings, can be well worth the effort monetarily.

Online marketing efforts like listing yourself with one of these online directories is an excellent approach, but it’s just one step in your digital marketing plan. For most companies, it makes sense (and CENTS) to devote significant time to these efforts. Larger companies can employ in-house marketing staff, but for others hiring a good search engine optimization company is the way to go. In addition to insertion in directories, a capable SEO firm will overhaul your website’s content, create or enhance your company’s social media presence and manage your online reputation. All of these steps contribute to better rankings on search engines and a potential increase in traffic to your site.

How Google (and SEO) Changed the World and Your Business

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when Google didn’t exist. In today’s hyper-connected world, people literally carry the whole of humanity’s knowledge in their back pocket. Using the internet browser on any smart phone or computer, users can navigate to Google and find sports scores, how-to videos, biographies for their favorite actors, social media sites and more.

google logo and search box

Google constantly scans web pages and indexes them according to what they say. When users search Google for certain terms, it brings up web pages with words that match what the user is searching for. Without search engines like Google, users wouldn’t be able to find the information they want in the sea of content on the internet.

Physical Changes

Offering 24-hour access to anything you could ever want to know has caused some hefty changes in humanity. For starters, research has shown that humans have become worse at remembering things. Less of the human brain is devoted to memory than ever before because Google acts as a sort of mental crutch. Why expend resources remembering something when you can just look it up later?

Technology Changes

It has also changed the mobile phone industry. There was a time when cell phones were just used for calling people. People loved their phones, but they still relied on their computers for information. The demand for constant access to information led phone makers to create smartphones. Suddenly, everyone had the power of Google in the palm of their hands. As the way people access the internet has changed, online marketing strategies have changed as well. Businesses are reaching customers via their mobile browsers, tracking where they are with location devices and encouraging interaction through check-ins, mobile coupons and more.

Communication Changes

Email has become the number one way that people communicate with one another. Why buy a stamp when you can send an email for free? Why call someone when you can send a quick email and not worry about whether or not they answer the phone? Google’s email program, gmail, changed the way people use e-mail. They introduced the bottomless inbox, making it easy to store files online, message friends and family or create a virtual time capsule for your baby.

World View Changes

Your view of the world is heavily impacted by the news you read and Google has the power to choose which news you see when you do a search. Ranking high in Google has become a big business and there are companies all over that are devoted to SEO. Having your news story ranked high means more people will see it and read it. That means you’ll have more chances to influence those people and change their opinions on matters, whether they’re big or small. This can be invaluable to politicians.

Privacy Changes

There was once a time when you were able to be anyone you wanted to be in public. Regardless of what you did at home, your employer and friends only knew the person you projected. Unfortunately, because of Google, that has all changed. Anyone can Google your name and find your social media profiles, your forum profiles and countless other bits of information about you on the internet. People have less privacy now than they ever have before, despite all of the advanced security settings available to tweak one’s online persona.

There are so many ways that Google (and SEO) has changed, and continues to change, the world. Use the power of Google to your advantage by hiring a company specializing in search engine optimization. There are many throughout the country (and the world) in this burgeoning and ever-changing industry, but a select few are at the top of their game. Burbank SEO Experts in California, Kotton Grammer in Chicago or St. Louis or Gary Graye in Manchester, England belong in this category. A good search engine marketing company is critical to propel your business to the top rankings, influence customers and increase conversions. It does take time, effort and money to get to the top of the coveted page one of Google, but with the demise of the phone book this is where you’ll be found and getting there is money well spent.

How to Start a Small Business

While starting a small business sounds like a piece of cake, in reality it is quite daunting. Those I knew who succeeded did so by the right mixture of talent, conviction to succeed and luck. But the most crucial ingredient is identifying your business opportunity. Choosing what kind of business to start can be an immobilizing task when confronted with the multitude of opportunities. It’s important to determine where your passions lie and to understand your personality type.

Are you an improver? Do you want to focus on using your company as a means to improve the world? If you have an unwavering ability to run a business with high integrity and ethics then you are likely suited to create a morally correct business rewarded by working on noble cause. But you must be aware of your tendency to be a perfectionist and over-critical of employees and customers.

Are you an advisor? This business personality type will provide an extremely high level of assistance and advice to customers. Advisors though can become totally focused on the needs of their business and customers that they may ignore their own needs and ultimately burn out.

Are you a Superstar? Here the business is centered around your charisma and high energy. This personality often will cause you to build your business around your own personal brand. You must be careful not to be too competitive and end up being a workaholic.

Are you an Artist? This business personality is the reserved but highly creative type. Often found in businesses demanding creativity such as web design and ad agencies. As an artist type you’ll tend to build your business around the unique talents and creativities you have. But you must let go of the negative self-image since you may have the tendency to be overly sensitive to your customer’s responses even if the feedback is constructive.

If you have identified what you are going to start-up, here is what you should consider to help you further.

Plan

To make your business idea a reality, make a plan. It should outline your goals, your motivation and your strategy for marketing and funding.

Finances

You won’t require a lot of money to start. Here are a number of ways you can find initial investment:

  • Financing
  • Loans
  • Grants
  • Angel investors
  • Bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start.

Business Structure

You may start an initial business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation). Then re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs change.

Pick & Register Your Business Name

Pick a name that make you smile when you say it, think through all of the potential implications before you decide on it. Then check if it’s trademarked or currently in use. Then register it.

Licenses and Permits

Your licenses and permits should apply depending on the type of business you are starting and your location.

Business Location

Your business location should work for the type of business you will be doing. Consider your overall set-up before you zero out on the location.

Accounting System

One of the most important systems is an accounting system. Your business will run most effectively when there are systems in place.

Promote

Start with the basics by writing a unique selling proposition (USP) and create a marketing plan. The best way to decide on how to promote your business most effectively is to explore as many marketing ideas as possible.

Once you have completed these small business start-up activities, you will have all of the most important bases covered, and be ready for  success.