Which social media sites are best for your business?

social media with social squidsIt seems that every day a new social media platform arrives on the scene. Trying to figure out which ones work best for your business can be confusing. It does not matter whether your business is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. Here are some clues to help with the decisions.

Everyone can benefit from the mass appeal of Facebook and Twitter. There are so many people on these sites that you can use the shotgun approach to finding business. That is when you send you message to so many people, a percentage of them must be interested. You Tube also has a wide appeal, but you have to have to create interesting videos that people want to see.

If your business can show before and after” photos like home improvements, makeovers, dog grooming, etc., the more visually oriented platforms will work great. Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Vine are excellent ways to let the visuals do the talking. For businesses that are creative, like illustrators, photographers and web designers, the visually oriented apps are your best bet. Show off your work!

An accountant, lawyer or medical practice can benefit from using blogs. A blog can be more targeted, especially if you use appropriate bookmarking sites to spread the word. Blogs can have a mass appeal as well, especially if you have a topic that is appropriate for a wide audience. By offering tips, you let readers know you are an expert in your field.

All social media helps you get your business name in front of an audience every time you post. Conversely, if you only post occasionally, you are losing that audience. By using the right social media platforms, you will become a household name. Once that happens, people will begin to think of your business when they need to hire someone in your field or make a purchase.

Eight ways to attract viewers to your blog

blogging-for-page-viewsHere is a list of eight ways to raise your popularity. In the comments section, feel free to add any ideas of your own.

  1. Post as often as possible. Make your blog entries become a permanent fixture in your readers’ lives. There is something be said for consistency.
  1. Add links to some of the old blogs within a new blog. Invariably, you will write about a similar subject to one you wrote about in the past. Connect your older blog with your new one and you will certainly add page views.
  1. Use images. Whenever you can, add images, videos, infographics – anything that will attract the eyes of people scanning through pages of information. The image will grab them, and great writing will keep them.
  1. Answer all comments people post on your blog. Also, comment on other blogs. This increases your credibility.
  1. Give timely and useful information. A blog that says nothing has no reason to be read. Relate big news items like the election, hurricanes, sports victories or other popular trending topics to your blog.
  1. Write a great headline. Sometimes the headline is an afterthought. Make sure your headline is as engaging as the rest of the blog.
  1. You have a sense of humor – use it! Even if you are writing about a serious topic, being clever and witty will keep people reading.
  1. Don’t forget other social media! This probably should have been the first thing on the list. Spread your wealth of information all over the internet. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and all of the bookmarking sites to get as many viewers as possible.

Sports and social media

Continuing with a sports motif… Catch the Redskins game last night? Former Baltimore Raven and now Washington Redskin, Billy Cundiff, missed three field goals before kicking a game winner in the last few seconds of the game. You might wonder what this has to do with social media – actually, quite a lot.

Billy Cundiff missed a critical field goal for the Ravens last year during the playoffs and the entire city turned against him. His teammates were the first people to speak out in his defense. Ray Lewis was quoted as saying, “We win as a team, we lose as a team.” That did little to stop the horrible tweets, Facebook posts and other social media insults and threats.

Using social media for good instead of evil, should be our goal. Focus on what the kicker did in the last play of the game and not threaten his life.

Sometimes it is best to keep your opinions to yourself. This is especially true if you are trying to grow your business and use your social media to do that. You never know who is reading your posts or how they feel about any given situation.

There was an interview with baseball sportscaster Joe Buck on TV last night. He also received negative tweets and was reading them on his phone during the games. He said it affected the way he did his job. He had to stop using Twitter to keep his peace of mind. Are you driving people away from social media with negative comments? Let’s hope not!

Iran has blocked certain websites from that country, although they have unblocked gmail today. We live in a wonderful, free society and to take that freedom and use it to heckle, harass and browbeat people is wrong.

Let’s try and have some good karma. Think of at least one nice thing to tweet or post on Google+ , LinkedIn or Faceboo.

Social media and the elections

politicians love social mediaAs we get closer to the presidential election, social media is playing a huge role in the process this year. I remember back when George W. Bush was running for president and there was a row of bloggers at the convention. I had no idea what a blogger was! Oh, how times have changed.

Blogs and social media have come light years ahead since then. Obama crashed Reddit with his impromptu AMA (ask me anything) interview with the world. He also made a big splash on Google+ with a hangout where regular citizens had the opportunity to have online face time with our commander in chief. (The video is still available for viewing.) Obama is all over social media proving to his supporters that he is hip and computer savvy.

Mitt Romney is no slouch himself when it comes to social media. He’s all over Twitter with many tweets daily about his campaign. Romney also has 6.5 million Facebook followers, and that is no small feat. He, like many other politicians, is trying to attract voters via social sites.

National candidates are not the only ones taking advantage of this method of promotion. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Local candidates all over the country are making promises, badmouthing their opponents and promoting their fundraising events on every social site they can find.

The power of this promotional tool called social media is growing and changing daily. The best part of social media is allowing public figures to connect with as many individuals as possible, give opportunities to followers that were never available in past elections. Fans, supporters and opponents all feel a closer personal connection when they can respond to the candidate. Back in the day, it was a big deal when Bill Clinton showed his human side and went on late night television playing his saxophone. Now, it’s Google+ hangouts, Twitter Q&As, You Tube messages and so much more.

Everyone who has a business should take a lesson from the politicians. Check out what they are doing on social media. You should be doing the same things to reach as many people as possible. Take your message to the people and grow your business.

Take advantage of Google+

Did we really need another social network that, at least on the surface, appears to be Facebook’s less attractive little brother? Actually, the answer is a resounding yes. Google+ is not trying to be Facebook. It wants to be its own entity and has charms that are all its own.

While Facebook gives users the ability to decide who sees what posts, people rarely use this option. Mostly, people just like to relate to each other, discuss their day, share interesting stories and/or photos and let people into their lives. Whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, that seems to be the way people use this social medium. Companies get in on the action, posting their information, setting up business pages. That is works great for a lot of people.

But Google+ takes a little different stand on things. The circles allow users to promote one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group. People get involved with their interests on Google+. Many times they find new people, businesses and organizations to follow that they do not interact with on Facebook. When using this social media platform you categorize each friend. You can follow them, classify them as a friend, family, acquaintance, sports or fun & interesting. You can address everyone or just one segment of the people in your circles.

Unique to Google+ are the hangouts. A hangout is where you can webchat live with multiple people. Not only that, but you can save the entire conversation to be replayed on You Tube. Today there was a recorded hangout with Conan O’Brian, a host and five fans. They were able to talk with Conan and ask questions live and watch/listen to his answers. People had posted questions earlier on You Tube and the five fans were picked from among those people.

There was a similar Q&A with President Obama. Everyday citizens, including some who did not vote for him, had posted questions on You Tube in advance as well and were picked for a live interview with the president. That’s awesome! While a limited number of people can be directly involved, millions can watch it live or the recorded version later.

The possibilities for your business taking advantage of the hangouts are limitless. A nonprofit could arrange to have public meeting online. Musicians could have fans hang out with them. Small businesses could ask their customers what they can do to make their experience better. An animal behaviorist could promote his business by answering questions from people with problem pets. A jewelry store could teach a people how to tell the quality of a diamond and they could give feedback. A car dealership salesman could talk about the great new features of the 2013 model of a car. You can promote a hangout in your newsletter, ezine or blog.

The best part is that the hangouts are interactive. There is give and take, questions and answers. People become engaged in your business. They learn to know and trust you. You are helping them for free, so the idea is that when they are ready to spend money, they’ll go to the place where they got the free help.

SEO made simple

seo-marketing-for-your-businessThe first thing you need to understand is how Google, and the other search engines, rank websites. With Google specifically, they have paid advertising on top of the page and if there is a local connection, there is a map with various businesses marked with a “pin” on the right.

The paid list is just that. People pay to be in that spot. They have a PPC, or pay per click, price where businesses can be listed. Every time someone searches and then clicks on the link, the business is charge a small fee. Those little fees can add up quickly, so the businesses have a limit as to how much they will spend each month.

On the map section, things work a little differently. Google has many criteria for ranking businesses in the map section. The ideal position, of course, is to be at the top of the list. The biggest reasons for being ranked on the map include how many times the site has been visited and the location of the business — if you are not located within 50 miles of where the person is, you will not show up on the map. This is very important for mobile phone users. Citations are another big factor. They are basically reviews written by customers.

The bottom part of the search, called organic search, is where you hope you will be listed near the top (known as above the fold). In order to get in that first position, or at least on the first page, is to have a lot of words that people use in their search on your site. Keywords, or words people use to search, are crucial to your site popping when someone searches.

SEO (search engine optimization) marketing is writing good clean content for your site that has perfectly chosen keywords on the page. For example, if you searching for a dog trainer, you might search the words, “dog training” and your city name. Or, you might search, “train my dog.” Maybe you want a class, so you search “dog training classes.” Other terms include: housebreaking, destructive behavior, dog lessons, dog behaviorist, obedience, obedience training, etc. All of those phrases should be in the content of a dog trainer’s web page. The bots, the programs searching the internet and categorizing everything, are looking for those keyword terms. If you do not have keywords on your page, you are missing out on lots of business. Let’s change that!

On the dog trainer’s site, there should be some content that discusses how the training helps with housebreaking problems. Using that keyword about 4-5 times within that page is helpful. Using the terms naturally and without forcing them can be difficult.

One of my writing clients works in the field carpet cleaning. I had to use the term “carpet cleaning Michigan” in the body of the text I wrote for him. It had to be used a minimum of two times. While “carpet cleaning in Michigan” would have been easy, that was not the keyword phrase he wanted me to use. I ended up saying, “When carpet cleaning Michigan style, you…” Maybe that wasn’t the best way to use the phrase, but the client was happy and I got his keywords into the text. It was a challenge!

There are places where you can find lists of keywords for various topics. There is no punctuation in a keyword phrase, so in the example above, I could not have used the phrase, “If you are looking for carpet cleaning, Michigan has some great companies.” You would have to make it into a run-on sentence and not include the comma.

Adding an “s” to the word will make it into a different keyword as well. In the dog training example, you would want to both “dog trainer” and “dog trainers” in the text of the page.

I have even been asked to misspell words in SEO articles. They were words that are commonly misspelled and people search the misspelled words almost as often as they do the correctly spelled version.

Clear as mud, right? If you are having problems finding online keywords or lists of keywords, you can simply search for a known keyword. If you use Google, towards the bottom of the page, you will find a list of related terms.

I searched “obedience training” and this is what Google suggested:

Searches related to obedience training

obedience training for dogs

obedience training classes

petsmart obedience training

obedience training cost

obedience training tips

dog obedience training schools

german shepherd obedience training

obedience training for puppies

These keyword phrases are commonly used in searches. Therefore, they would be great for a dog trainer to use in his web content.

Do your homework and figure out what SEO keyword phrases work best for your business. Add lots of content to your site. The more information you give your customers, the better you look.