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.

Analyze who views your page

analyze website page viewsDo you have any idea who is looking at your website? Do you know where the traffic originates? If you are trying to grow, or care at all about your business, you should know how people are finding your website or blog. If you do not know where you are getting customers, this is important information.

The most popular way to get a handle on your page viewers is with Google Analytics. It takes a little know-how to use this. You have to be able to add code to your page, or get someone add it for you. Google Analytics will analyze how your viewers find you, the efficacy of your keywords and there is even a section just for social media sites. Lots of information is there, but it does you no good if you are not looking at it on a regular basis. New features just came out for Google Analytics including shortcuts to the stats you use the most often.

If you have ecommerce on your site, Google Analytics can even figure out the percentage of website visitors who become customers. You can analyze individual pages, and get in-depth analysis.

If you are sharing new pages or blogs on Twitter, but you are not getting any traffic from Twitter, that is saying something that you need to know. Either you are not reaching enough people or your message is not encouraging people to click the link to your page. Making your message a call to action may improve the clicks.

Some people are not technically savvy and have no clue about how to add code to their page. I totally understand. Most of my clients don’t get it at all. For them, there is another way to figure out who is viewing their site. It’s called Stats Crop. By entering your web address, you can get a lot of information about how your site is working. Stats Crop gives each page a number score and gives suggestions on how to raise it (adding backlinks, getting the page indexed on search engines and more). Learn about your keywords. Are they working? Do you need to add more? How are similar sites doing? This can help you figure out what marketing methods are working best.

Users of Blogger can get access to how the blog is doing. They have most of the same information as Google Analytics, but without doing a thing! All you need to do is go to the dashboard page and click on the little blue graph under the name of the blog. If you have multiple blogs, there will be one for each of them. By clicking on “traffic sources,” you can see how people find you.

Somehow I’m getting viewers from a porn site. I swear, I don’t know how that is happening! I can’t imagine why someone would go from porn to my blog, but I’ll take the page views however I can get them.

A year ago, I never heard of BizSugar, and now I know I’m getting most of my page views through them. Friend Feed, on the other hand, isn’t doing much for me at all. One of my clients gets her best page views from StumbleUpon. Maybe it is how each book-marking or other social site categorizes the keywords entered when I submit the pages.

The best way to know what is happening with your clients and page viewers is to use every way possible to analyze your website. Learning who comes to the page will help you figure out more about your target market. You will learn what marketing is working, or not. If you don’t understand how to use this analysis, view the help section. It is definitely worth the trouble.

Grow and nurture your Facebook audience

nurture-your-facebookOnce your business has a social media presence, it is now time to grow your audience. Sounds simple, right? Well, maybe it sounds easier than it is.

Growing your audience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of posting, tweeting, forwarding, sharing of your information. Maybe it is something that you need to hire someone to do for you, wink, wink, hint, hint…

I spoke to someone who owns a pest control company the other day. I asked him if he had a Facebook page. “Of course!” he answered, like he was shocked that I would ask such a ridiculous question.

I looked at the page. It literally had three likes and had not been updated since 2011. Seriously? This is not a Facebook page. It is a sorry little, shriveled up plant that no one ever waters. This page is doing nothing to help his company build a brand, have recognition in the community or anything else. It is just a placeholder. There were no photos. It contained absolutely no information other than a location and phone number. Yes, he might get one call a year from that – although I think I’m being generous.

This pest control guy could do so much with that Facebook page. He could increase interest by adding photos, maybe showing the difference between a flying ant and a termite. That is content people can use. Posting a photo that would give useful information to his audience would be fantastic. This guy does nothing, except complain about a lack of business. Adding posts that discuss flea control, roaches, ants, mice or other pests would help people. And more than that, it would attract new customers. The saddest thing is, the person knows this information like the back of his hand and would take him no time to put on his page.

It costs nothing but your time, to set up and use a Facebook page. Every business can benefit from having one.

But, and this is big, you must keep the momentum going. As people like the page, you have to post on it. A page that has no activity is not going to be popular. A page with no information is not even going to get likes.

If you spend just a few minutes each day nourishing your Facebook page, you will see amazing growth. Post on the page. Keep it active. Many businesses put special offers on their Facebook page that are found nowhere else. The offers encourage people to check back with the page to see if there is a new discount.

Use the Facebook address on any communication, whether it is snail mail, videos, newsletters – absolutely everything. It will attract likes to the page. Add it to your email signature line. Then, every email you send, may result in a new like on the page. For sure, if no one knows your page exists, they will not visit it.

Sometimes the Facebook page address is a very long list of random numbers and letters. If the address is to long for people to easily remember or type, check out tinyurl.com and shorten the web address. It is a free service that comes in handy with those long URLs. You can let the site pick a shorter address or you can customize it. If you want to tweet the address, this will leave a lot more of the 140 characters allowed by Twitter, to punch up your message.

Using social media for nonprofits

gif_Business047One of the best things about using social media is the cost. Many times the cost is low or non-existent. Non-profits, and really anyone with a limited budget, can take advantage of these sites and make the most of it.

About a week ago, I spoke to someone who runs a small non-profit organization. He told me that his organization does not ask for money at all. The entire financing is based on a one-time donation made in the 1960s! Every now and then a board member makes a donation. One died recently and left a few thousand to the organization. They do not solicit anyone for money because they don’t want to spend money on fundraising. YIKES! All of the money is tied up in stocks and mutual funds. They lost almost half of their principal during the stock market crash a couple years ago and have done nothing to build it back except invest in more stocks.

I know my eyes were bugging out of my head as the president of the organization told me about this. It was the first time I met him and I didn’t want to tell him that he was crazy – but is exactly what I was thinking!

I’ve worked for several non-profits and they all used social media, even though it was on a limited basis. It was years ago and not as commonly done as it is now. Just setting up a Facebook page or a blog that tells people to visit the website can help.

I set up a PayPal account for one non-profit and added theie “donate” button to the organization’s website. From that alone, we took in hundred of dollars a year in completely unsolicited donations. While that is not a lot of money, it cost absolutely nothing to set that in motion. And, we received much more when we actually asked for donations. There is nothing more beautiful to a non-profit than seeing a random email from PayPal that says, “You’ve got a donation!”

This might sound like common sense, but be polite. Always send a thank you note for every donation, no matter how small. Research shows that people are much more likely to donate again when they are thanked!

Another no-brainer… Always put your website, blog, Facebook and Twitter addresses in the signature of your emails. You never know when someone might click on one of them just out of curiosity. It could result in a donation. Anything you have printed like business cards, letterhead and any print advertising should also contain your web address and Facebook page.

Through use of newsletters, postcards, ezines, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook pages, Twitter sites and other social networking sites, think of how many people your business or non-profit can reach! If you post on an ezine, Facebook or Twitter and ask people to forward, share or retweet – the number of people you reach is astounding.

You haven’t spent a penny on advertising. Maybe you are paying someone to send the original message, but that is nothing compared to what bulk mailings, yellow pages, radio, t.v. or magazine ads cost. If your Facebook post is forwarded, it is probably done by someone who knows and trusts your brand. When you advertise in the newspaper, you don’t know who is reading it, unless it is geared toward a certain market.

Give it a try. Set up the PayPal account and add the “donate” button to your non-profit web page. It will probably take a total of about 10 minutes to do that. You will see an amazing return on that investment.

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.