Social Business Blog Posts by Scott Gombar

It Takes a Tribe to Raise a Small Business

Raising a Small Business

Raising a Small BusinessI remember hearing often throughout the years that it takes a tribe to raise a child.  It has been a long time since I have heard that but I do believe it is true to some degree today.  I have four children.  My wife and I are not the only disciplinarians, coaches, teachers, nutritionists and schedulers.  We rely on family to contribute to our children’s upbringing.  Sometimes our children are with friends, neighbors or teachers who we also rely on to build a solid foundation for our children to become productive members of society.

Well shouldn’t the same hold true for a small business?  Isn’t it time that we support the economy ourselves and stop relying on the government?  Shouldn’t we stop assuming that just because someone has a store front and a website they are OK financially?  Aren’t all small businesses in need of some type of help?

It Never Ends

I have been running a small business in some shape or form for over 8 years.  Before that I worked for small business owners who often could only afford to pay minimum wage with no benefits.  Last year over 3 million people lost their jobs because of small business failures and closings.   I can tell you from my own experiences that it is not easy running a small business on your own.  Here’s a list of just some of the things I have had to do while running these businesses.  One was an IT Support company which I had for about 7 years, the other is this one which is a little over a year old.

  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Bookkeeping
  • Taxes
  • Answering the phone
  • Accounts Payable/Receivable
  • Hiring contractors
  • Making sure contractors signed all paperwork including NDA
  • Paying contractors
  • Networking
  • LLC Paperwork
  • Ordering
  • Develop Website
  • Maintain Vendor Relationships
  • Maintain Client Relationships
  • Vehicle Maintenance

I am sure I am forgetting some things.  If you have employees there is quite a bit more to deal with.  I purposely hired contractors with the IT company to avoid the extra work of hiring employees.  That’s a lot of work, and that does not include actually doing what the business is supposed to be doing, like writing this blog post or managing a clients inbound marketing.

What’s a small business to do?

In my area I have networked with a lot of small business owners, even some of my competitors, over the last year.  One thing I learned while running the IT business is face to face networking is almost essential to your small business survival.  What networking has done for me (besides grow my client list) is allowed me a resource to bounce my small business problems off of other owners/managers.  In turn I can help with problems they might be having.

Small Business NetworkingGet on Meetup and Facebook.  You will find tons of networking groups, some specialized in areas where you might need the most help.  Join a chamber or BNI group.  Both are great resources for meeting different business owners who specialize in accounting, taxes, legal, HR, insurance and so much more.  Many business owners are more than willing to give free advice to other business owners.  I know I do it all the time.  Heck I do it on this site and on social media.

Just today I attended a relationship building group in New Haven called Our Breakfast Club.  After the meeting another attendee asked questions about uploading video to their website.  We tried to work through solutions but were not immediately able to find one.  I did however tell her I would look into it further.

Isn’t that every small business owners responsibility?  Shouldn’t we all be accountable for our peers success?  All too often small business owners are worried about their competition taking business away from them, but I am not aware of any business category that doesn’t have enough potential clients to go around.  The truth is small businesses make up over 99% of all employer firms.  That’s a large number!  If we truly want the US economy to turn around for good then we need to support each other.

Why Am I Bringing This Up Now?

Today I had an argument of sorts on Twitter.  Another small business owner who is doing quite well took it personally when I tweeted shame on small business owners who don’t support other small businesses.  It’s part of a campaign I am currently running for another business.  We went back and forth for a few tweets before he decided to just block me.  It seems if you don’t agree completely with some people then they don’t want to acknowledge you.  Either way the point I was trying to make was that we owe to each other, and ourselves to pay it forward.  I do help other small businesses out with advice, by purchasing from them rather than the corporate giants, by telling others about their business.  I am a raving fan of some area small businesses.

Small Businesses Can Get Along Like Cats & Dogs CanIt’s obvious to me that I struck a nerve with this gentleman.  And to be painfully honest he kind of pissed me off.  Don’t get me wrong, I kept it professional.  I do have a knack for calling you an ass professionally.  I learned this from all my years in the corporate world.  I do believe the small business community is responsible for helping each other out, just as I believe we are all responsible for paying it forward every chance we get by helping others who need help.

It is time that we stop taking food out of each other’s mouth and step up to help other small business owners.  I have always had a soft spot for small businesses, solopreneurs and self employed.  It’s hard work to be on your own but we don’t have to be on our own.  Stop being selfish and start working with other business owners.

To the business owners who don’t get out to network..I would strongly encourage you to do so.  We can’t help you if you’re not there.

What do you think?  Was I wrong using a tweet that was somewhat confrontational?  Am I wrong about small businesses supporting each other?  I would love to hear your comments.

7 Steps to Grow Your Following Responsibly on Social Media

Social Media is not a Popularity Contest

Popularity Contest-Not for Social MediaIf you want 2500 followers on Twitter or Instagram tomorrow I can help you for just $39.  Guess what, it won’t help your business at all!  If you think having a large number of followers is the end game on any social media platform you are sorely mistaken.  Even worse, if you have a “Social Media Expert” telling you to do this you had better run far away.

You might be wondering why I bring this up now.  I have spoken with business owners who were approached by the so called experts who tell them I will get you this many followers within this much time.  I have spoken with business owners who have taken these so called experts up on their offer.  At the end of the day the business owner walks away with a sour taste in their mouth.  Because of this the business owners often swear off social media all together.

Then when I have a conversation with them regarding a social media marketing plan the business owner is not open to the discussion at all.  I spent over a month and multiple conversations with a small business owner before they would even listen to a plan of action and why their first so called expert did not work out.   After about 5 weeks and at least 4 conversations I finally convinced them to let me show them the power of a properly run social media marketing plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem EARNING a clients business.  In fact I encourage all small businesses to use this model.  Taking the time to explain how social media can benefit someone who understands what social media is should not be part of earning the business.  Look at any blog and you will see the power.

What You Should Not Do on Social Media

Let’s start with very basic rules about what you should avoid like the plague.

1.  Buy Followers:  I already stated one that really gets my blood boiling.  Alright, maybe not that serious but you get the idea.   Simply paying money to gain thousands of followers will only improve someone else’s bank account.

There are networks of people/accounts that serve this single purpose.  You may have a bloated number of followers now but they will not engage with your conversation and will not purchase from you.  They are just a number to your profile page, and nothing more.

But hey, that’s cool…you’re popular now, right?

2.  Sell, Sell, Sell:  We’ve all been the victim of the pushy salesmen at the used car lot or the electronics super store.  After you’re done you need a shower because you feel so filthy.  Don’t be that person on social media.  Follow the 80:20 rule or better.  I almost never sell on social media and usually recommend that businesses do the same.  You will not build a rapport with your followers (if you used social media correctly your followers are all potential clients) using this tactic.

3.  Ignore Your Social Media:  Today people are very savvy when it comes to looking for a product or service.  Speaking from personal experience if I am looking for something I will research it first.  If I look for your business on the internet and there is little to no current information and your Facebook page is a wasteland with tumbleweeds floating around I will probably move on to the next business.

4.  Let your nephew’s best friend’s girlfriend run your social media campaign:  Do I really need to explain this?  You need experts, and you get what you paid for.  What would you tell someone who has their nephew’s best friend’s girlfriend changing their brakes?

5.  Bury Posts in Hash-tags:  #ItJustLooksChildishToMostSoIWontSayAnyThingFurtherAboutIt

What You Should Do on Social Media

1.  Target Followers by Demographics:  It’s not hard, really.  Target followers who are interested in what you are offering and are relevant to your business.  For example, I look for small to medium business owners in CT.  On some social media platforms you can even target by income level or net worth.  Why just blanket the entire population if it’s not going to help you grow your brand or business?

2.  Use Ads (Wisely):  It’s OK to use ads on social media.  In fact I encourage it.  Again, make sure that your ads are highly targeted.  Think about who your ideal customer is.  Not everyone wants what you are offering.  Ads will cost you a lot less if you focus on those that would be interested in your product and have the purchasing power to turn interest into a conversion.

3.  Create Social Conversations:  I always hear “I tried Facebook, posted a feel promotions and no one bought anything“.  Well why would they?  As I said earlier social media is about building a relationship, earning your audiences trust.  That’s how you’re going to get them to purchase from you.  You have to participate in conversations and create your own conversations.  Figure out how to get your audiences attention and then hold it.  Do they want to know more about what you do?  Do they understand how your product or service will benefit them?  You can even have conversations about stuff not even related to your business offering.

I sprinkle in personal stuff like pictures of my kids or rooting for local sports teams that I am a fan of, even the weather.  Let me tell you it’s a scorcher today in Connecticut..thank God for Central AC.   It’s OK to partake in conversations that have nothing to do with why you are on social media to begin with.

4.  Share your blog:  Ultimately you want people to visit your website.  Your website is your virtual brick and mortar store, your yellow pages ad and so much more.  It’s where your business starts and ends.  If you are using your Facebook page as your website, shame on you.

Your website will move up on the major search engines if you have relevant and fresh content.  The best way to ensure this is with a blog.  You should blog about different aspects of your business and your products or services.  You can post how to’s, videos and much, much more to generate unique and timely content that will help you move up in search rankings.

Don’t believe me?  Google “CT Twitter Expert” and look who is number 2 after I posted the Ask the Expert Call to Your YouTube and my site.

5.  Help Others with Questions:  You can LISTEN on social networks.  When someone needs help or has a question you can help them.  I know some people are thinking why would I give something that I normally charge for for free?  You have to think big picture.  That little piece of advice you give today just might generate bigger rewards tomorrow.  Even if it doesn’t, there are others watching.

I had to run to the grocery store to get chicken nuggets for my son while I was attempting to write this blog post.  While I was in the store a man approached me and asked for $2.  I don’t know what he wanted that $2 for and I will never know.  I normally don’t have cash on me but today I did, I had $7.  I could have given him the $2 but instead I gave him all $7.  Did it really cost me anything besides the $7?  I don’t believe so.  Will I be rewarded for this?  I don’t know but it certainly can’t hurt.  The point is if you’re not willing to give then you will never receive.  It’s OK to give some help with no expectations of return.

6.  Use Hash-tags in the Conversation:  I wrote earlier that hash-tag overload is a big no no.  Hash-tags are OK though.  A typical post on any social media platform from me might look like this:

5 Ways to Jump Start Your #ContentMarketing Program Today.  Learn more now!  

A few things to point out.

  • The hash-tag is part of the conversation and is legible
  • The CTA (Call To Action) is direct without making the reader believe they will have to Read More
  • By titling it 5 Ways, I also grab the audiences attention.  Readers love numbers and always think-oh, 5 steps to get going right now..I’m in.
  • I would also include an image..see next point

7.  Use Images and Videos:  A picture is worth a thousand words.  You know it, you heard it before and you heard it again.  Use pictures, audio and videos whenever possible.   I include a picture on almost every single post on Facebook and Google+, and probably about 50% of the time on Twitter.   Just don’t use copyright protected images or videos.

Stop The Madness

business woman shouting to a phone

Alright Connecticut business owners, there you have it.  Stop trying to buy and/or cheat your way to the top, it will not work.  At one time these not so ethical methods might have worked but today it’s more than obvious to anyone with some knowledge of social media what you are doing.

Some of the don’t dos above will quickly turn off your audience.  While other methods will gain nothing for your hard earned money.  So wow bother with any of them?  Stop buying your audience and start learning how to earn an audience, or call/email me.

 

 

Are you going dark on the Weekends? A Social Media Tip

Social Media

 

Let’s face it, we live in a 24/7 world.  If you are running a business you are probably more aware of that than most.  However, you may be missing out on important opportunities if you are not using social media on Saturday and Sunday..or even Friday night.

Studies have shown that users of two of the most popular social media sites (Facebook & Twitter) tend to interact more with posts and tweets on Thursday and Friday afternoons, and most on the weekends.   Let’s take a look at each site to explain further.

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook is easily the king of the Social Media world right now, with over 1 million users in Connecticut alone.   Depending on the business you’re in that may be an extremely important fact in itself.

Facebook allows users to set up business and brand pages to interact with Facebook users.  The page allows you to tell the world about your brand or business including basic business information such as hours of operation and locations.  Once this is set up you can then add content including images and video to interact with your audience.

In an article found on Buffer and Huffington Post, written by Belle Beth Cooper, it is suggested that the best time of day to post on Facebook is between 9 am and 7 pm.  It also states the most shares occur around 1 pm and the more clicks occur around 3 pm.  This would indicate that it is best to post mid-afternoon during the week, a little after lunch.  Coincidence, I think not.

You see, studies suggest that the more someone does not want to be at work, the more time they spend on Facebook and other social media platforms.

But you said Weekends

I did say weekends were important.  In fact Weekends have the highest engagement of the week on Facebook.  Engagement increases by 32% on weekends.   Facebook shares are also highest on Saturdays over any other day of the week.  You cannot afford to miss the action on Saturday, can you?

TwitterTwitter

Twitter is extremely popular with users of mobile devices.  It’s 140 character micro-blog posts are appealing to the two thumb typing method on a smartphone.   A tweet defined as a post on Twitter.   Twitter also made hashtags popular.  Hashtags are a sort of tag or keyword on a post.  Placing the # character in front of a word or phrase allows other users of Twitter to find your post using that hashtag.  Hashtags are now used on most major social media sites including Facebook.

Retweets

Retweets occur when someone re-posts a tweet that you posted, thus sending it to all of their followers as well.  This is considered a sign of respect so to speak   If your goal is to increase the number of retweets then the best time of day is 5 pm.

Click-Through

If the goal is to increase your click-through, meaning how many people interact with your tweet, then the best time of day is noon (lunch) and 6 pm (at home).   Interestingly enough, Twitter is also the platform of choice of those during commute by a large margin.   Users of Twitter are also more likely to use it during work or school hours.

The Weekend

Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends according to the same study referenced above.  Again suggesting that people have more time to interact with brands and businesses through social media.  So the question still remains, are you ignoring your weekend audience?  And can you afford to continue to do so?

Ultimately

It will take some testing and tweaking to find out when is the best time to engage your audience.  I personally have had Facebook posts late in the day that has succeeded while posting at suggested times don’t go over so well.  You will want to use analytic tools to determine what is and isn’t working.

Keep in mind it may not be the time of day either.  There are other things you should be doing to engage your audience such as adding images or video, encourage a response or create a call to action.

Ready to start your Social Media Program?

Face to Face Network Marketing

Face to Face Marketing

It still matters

In this day and age we have so many avenues to market and advertise our business, and many business opportunities on the internet that it is easy to forget the human side of business and human interaction.  However it is probably still very important to meet and get to know people on a personal level.  People are more likely to conduct business with you if they get to know you and learn to trust you first.  Word of mouth is still a very powerful tool and there is no easier way to do this than to meet people….face to face.

Interacting with people via social media, email and text is efficient and convenient but it is also hard to develop a personal relationship that involves a level of trust if you never get to hear the person’s voice or see the person’s face.  Not to mention the numerous scams that are perpetrated via the internet all the time will have many scared to conduct financial transactions without first meeting the person..and rightfully so.

Big Group of People

Where do I start?

There are lots of ways to find individuals and groups wishing to gather and meet face to face.  One very popular way is meetup.com.  Using meetup you can find groups with similar interests that meet on a regular basis to discuss those interests.  The is a wide range of groups with very diverse topics and meetup types.

You can also find groups on Facebook that meet however you are more likely to find something of interest on meetup.

Another option is to join the local chamber of commerce or networking group in your area.  BNI is a popular group for some people.  BNI charges a yearly fee and some groups have strict rules about attendance and leads but they usually let you visit once or twice before you are asked to make a financial commitment.  BNI only allows one member of each business type per group so if you’re a plumber and there is already a plumber in the group they will not allow you to join.  However there is usually at least one BNI every few towns.

The local Chamber of Commerce allows competing businesses to join but also has lots of resources to help businesses develop their customer base.  The busier chambers offer several types of meeting opportunities throughout the month so it is usually fairly easy to get out to meet people.

Finally you can always create your own group.  Find a few individuals who would like to gather on a regular basis and grow the group using word of mouth or one of the aforementioned methods.

Get out!

So get out there and work on your face to face marketing.  People still like human contact and don’t always want to sit behind a computer or tablet.  Remember to be confident and don’t make the conversation about yourself, let the other person talk.  Follow up with the people you meet and possibly arrange a one on one meeting to learn more about each other and what you do.  Have fun but not to much fun.  We encourage all of our clients to meet and get to know people.

Hand Shake

Facebook Business Page Tips Part 2-Using Your Page

Facebook Anger & ConfusionLast week we talked about the importance of a Facebook Page if you own or run a business.    This week I continue the series on Facebook Business Page Tips.  We’re going to discuss using your page to reach and attract an audience interested in learning more about your product or service.

We already discussed a few ways to build your audience in the first post.  This post will focus more on how to keep them intrigued, interested and engaged.   This is typically where a lot of page owners falter.    Some take the “If you build it they will come” saying to literal.  That will not work on any Social Media page.  You have to develop the community, and then engage the community.

Engage Your Audience

1.  Optimize Posting Times

Your audience has a time of day that is best for engagement.  Most users of Facebook tend to interact with posts in the early to mid-afternoon hours (after lunch) and again after dinner.  While this is probably true for a majority of Facebook users you will want to test and re-test to confirm that posting at certain times works better than others.

You should also get in the habit of posting on a regular basis.   At one time it was recommended (even by me) that you post one to 2 times a day to avoid annoying your audience.  Today’s Facebook makes it a lot tougher to reach your audience with just the one to 2 times a day.  It’s OK to post 5 times a day, just spread them out to maximize potential reach.   And make sure you check your insights to see how well a particular post does.

One of the worst things you can do to your Facebook page is not posted on a regular basis.  Abandonment will not sit well with your audience.  You will be forgotten.  Audience members might disappear and conversions will drop off.

2.  Use Images/Video

Studies show that engagement dramatically increases when a post includes an image or video.   So much so that Facebook has indicated recently that they will give more weight to posts from Facebook Pages that use less text and more images.

As noted on Buffer,  Facebook posts with images increase engagement by 39%.  Engagement is how you convert your audience to clients.  It can be as simple as a picture related to your post, or an infographic.

If you want to use videos (and we recommend you do) it’s best to include YouTube and post it on YouTube for several reasons.  As a corporate trainer, I learned that different people interact with different types of media differently.  Wow..that’s a mouthful.  What I am saying is some prefer written, some prefer images and some prefer video.  If you plan to reach as many people as possible you need to include as many types of media as possible.

3.  Use Post Scheduler

Facebook Post Scheduler

Facebook has a built-in scheduler for pages.  Use it!  It is physically impossible to be on Facebook 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You have other obligations and commitments.  You need to eat and sleep.  You have a life away from your computer (although that probably means you have a smartphone with you).   So use the scheduler to set up posts in advance.

While I am a certified HootSuite Partner it is best you use the Facebook scheduler.  Unlike other social media platforms, Facebook does not like you using third party apps to post.  Their algorithm tends to push posts using third-party apps further down, decreasing engagement potential.

4.  Ask Questions, create surveys

Facebook Questions and SurveyThere is nothing like a question or survey to get the masses going.  A couple of examples recently used on my page include:

  • Who will win the Super Bowl
  • What type of business would not benefit from Social Media Marketing
  • And currently..who makes the best pizza in Connecticut.

You will notice that only one of the questions is directly related to what I do and what the page is about.  You don’t always have to be on topic with your Facebook page.  In fact I recommend that you do stray as you’re bound to bore people if all you talk about is what you do.  Talk about what people want to talk about.  Remember, it’s a community.  When you are out with friends and family do you just talk about what you do or do you talk about other things as well?

Surveys are also great because they are easy for your audience to interact with.  Rather than writing out a response they can just select the choice they want and move on to the next persons post.

5.  Create a contest

People love contests.  You don’t have to give away your car or house.  It can be a gift certificate to Dunkin Donuts or a Visa Gift Card.   You can even offer your services for free as I have done in the past.  Contests get people engaged with your page.

The contest should require an action from your audience.   The most common action is a page like, followed by signing up for your email list.  You don’t have to limit the action to just these items but it does have to be track-able somehow.

My last contest was Win a Website Makeover.  The contest required you to fill out a short form..name, address, website address and email address.  It also required a page like and finally (and most importantly) a screenshot of your website.  From this, I chose the ugliest website and rebuilt it.

6.  Encourage Sharing

SharingIt’s OK to ask.  If you think you’re content should reach more people then ask your audience to share it, like it or comment on it.  This also means your content will be bumped.

What’s bumped you ask?  Have you ever noticed a picture or post at the top of your timeline from years ago?  That’s because someone recently commented on it moving it to the top of the Facebook timeline since it had the most recent interaction.  The same works for your page posts.  If someone comments on or shares the post get’s moved to the top of the timeline.

7.  Don’t ignore comments, even if negative

Probably one of the worst things you can do, ignore a comment.  Reply to any comments no matter what it is (unless it’s obvious spam).  Ignoring comments will just about guarantee the loss of at least one audience member.  Ignoring a customer complaint will probably look worse than the complaint itself.

I cannot overstate this…do not ignore any comments.

8.  Don’t ignore weekends

In case you’re living under a rock… weekends are busy on Social Media.  Facebook has a much higher engagement rate on Saturdays especially.   In fact, the best day to share on Facebook is Saturday.   You would be missing out on potential reach and conversions if you ignored weekends.

If you’re like me and Saturdays are tough to sit at the computer (hey, I have 4 kids ranging from 18-not yet born) then use the Facebook Post Scheduler.

9.  Don’t go for the hard sell

SalesmanIt’s really simple…follow the 80/20 rule.  In sales trainer, they teach you ABC (Always Be Closing).  I learned this many, many years ago while working at Radio Shack.  I personally never understood it since I hated being sold to, and that’s probably why I did not last long at Radio Shack.

Social Media is no different…people do not want to be SOLD to.  They liked your page to develop a relationship with you, to learn more about what you do.  There is a good chance they are already considering purchasing from you but forcing your sales pitch down their throat will quickly turn them off.

The 80/20 rule in it’s simplest form means you should only be selling 20% of the time.  That means that 1/5 of your posts should be related to selling your product or service.  To be honest I almost never post a sales pitch on Facebook.   My main focus is interacting with my audience about various things including what I do.  This should be your focus too.

If you want to see my posts just visit my Facebook page.  

Get On Facebook and Get Started!

Next week I will post more on Facebook etiquette so make sure you come back.  For now, you have plenty to work with!

Need help getting started on Facebook?  I would love to help you out!   Just click here to contact me or call 203.806.0736

CT Internet Marketing Facts in 2014

Have Website, Will Search

If you own a business you undoubtedly heard of the internet.  As a matter fact unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard of the internet.  It has become almost critical that your business has some sort of presence on the internet or risk becoming irrelevant.  It’s so easy to start a business and establish it on the internet with the number of resources available at little to no cost.

But it’s not enough to just create a static web page and upload it to the massive world wide web.  There are literally billions of web pages on the internet, some of them competing for the same audience you are trying to reach.  Let’s take a look at some simple statistics just in Connecticut Internet Marketing.  I will list some of the things CT residents are searching for and how many times they are searched in a month, just on Google.

CT Search Facts

    • CT Plumber-12,100
    • CT Electrician-5400
    • landscaping in CT-12,100
    • CT Computer Repair-3600
    • Italian Restaurants CT-6600
    • CT Life Insurance-1900
    • Financial Planning CT-390

As you can see you may have some stiff competition, and this is just Google.  What about Bing and Yahoo?  What about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+?  You have your work cut out for you now that you opened the business and uploaded your static site.  So what’s a business to do?

Local Search Marketing in Connecticut

Here are some tips to improve your search results.  You can do most of these on your own with little to no financial commitment but the time involved may prove to be overwhelming especially if you are trying to run a small business.

1.  Website Content-You should strive for original, fresh and related content for your website.  This is probably the single most important piece but as you will discover the other pieces all tie in together.   If you are Financial Planner in Connecticut you will want to develop a blog with relevant content.  While not every post needs to be Connecticut specific it should have some flavors of Connecticut, and of course Financial Planning. Your ‘static’ pages should also be relevant and contain material that is up to date.  You will need to refresh and optimize on a regular basis to obtain your ultimate goal of reaching the top of the search results.   The percentage of content on your website should be significantly higher than the actual coding behind the site.  You should also have a clear structure to your website using a menu and internal links.  Google wants to be able to find other pages on your site easily. Images on your site should contain the proper description.  You should limit the amount of flash and java content.  If you are looking to have more media on your site use pictures and videos but ensure they have proper descriptions and coding.

2.  Social Media-At the very least you will want to develop social media profiles on what I call the Big 3.  (No not the Miami Heat).  Your social media should be used for community development and not for the cold sale.  If you set out to attack customers with sales pitch after sales pitch you will fail to develop a community and brand awareness. Facebook-right now Facebook is easily the king of the jungle.  In Connecticut alone there are over 1.6 million people over age 18 on Facebook.  That means using Facebook you can reach almost half of the states population.  Where else can you do that for no financial commitment? Alright, it’s not quite that simple, it will take some time, and at first you may want to invest in Facebook’s advertising system to get your page jump started.  With Facebook Ads you can target a very specific audience, and as soon as you reach 30 followers you can get more insights into your Facebook page to help optimize it further.

Google+ has taken over the number 2 spot over Twitter as far as the number of users.  Google+ is Google’s entry into the social media world after a couple of other failed attempts.  Google+ also lets you set up Google Authorship which will help to rank in the Google Search results tremendously.  As a matter of fact, Google has said if you have Google Authorship set up you will rank better.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site.  It has slipped to number 3 in number of users just recently.  It offers a platform to post short (140 Characters or less) updates about whatever you want it to be.  Twitter made the hashtag famous and while all the aforementioned sites use hashtags as well Twitter seems to thrive with them.

3.  Keywords are also important but not in the same way as they used to be.  It is important to have Keywords on your website (and social media profiles) but they should be a part of the content.  Search engines are not using meta keywords anymore.  Keywords should also be added using H1 and H2 tags wherever possible.It is also important not to overuse Keywords (called Keyword Stuffing).  This can have a very negative impact on your site’s ranking in search engines.  Using your keywords should not make your content unreadable.  If it does not make sense to you then it probably will not to your audience.

4.  Link Building is also a good way to get your site noticed by search engines but can also have a negative impact if not done right.  You should strive to quality, related sites link back to your site.  Google looks at this as meaning you are considered an expert in your area if other people in your field, or related fields are linking back to you.The reverse is possible if your site is linked from sites that are unrelated, or even worse are considered spam.  This can have a very negative effect on your search engine results.  Another no-no is posting on blogs solely for the purpose of adding a link back to your site.

5.  Guest Blogging is a good way to get your name out there.  There are many sites that allow people to blog as a guest which will do a few things for you.  It allows you to show your expertise in an area, making you the authority on the subject.  It also allows legitimate backlinks to your site if the blog has a by-line (which it should include, using Google Authorship). With that being said make sure that your guest blogs are also tied into your Google Authorship account.  This goes a long way in making you the expert on the materials you are covering.

You will want to be careful with Guest Blogging.  Make sure you are not using it as a form of link building.  You should only guest on high quality blogs, and do so on a regular basis to ensure that Google does not view it is spam.  You also will want to limit guest bloggers on your own site.  Make sure they are legitimate content developers and not spammers.

6.  Email Marketing can be a very useful tool in your toolbox.  This allows you to send email to people who have opted in to receive notifications from you and may include product or service updates, tips, promotions and pretty much anything else you want to include.   Using a service like Constant Contact makes email marketing very easy to manage, and it is very cost effective.Email Marketing still has one of the highest ROI in the marketing world.  It is a good idea to invest in it since the cost is minimal but the potential is limitless.  It is important to note that your email should be considered an extension of your website.  It should have well thought out content that follows the same guidelines as your site, no keyword stuffing or other behavior that will turn your audience off, or encourage them to opt out.

7.  Adwords-While this one will cost some money it may be a good idea to use it initially to build your websites presence.  Using Google Adwords you can target specific audiences who are looking for exactly what you are offering.  This means that you are getting pre-qualified leads to your website, and now it’s up to you to convert the visit.

These are just some of the things you should be focusing on.  It is a good starting point to help your CT Internet Marketing plan get off the ground but there are many other things that you can do.  Keep in mind you are creating a web presence to attract potential clients, not for your own ego.  You should always get the perspective over an unbiased person whenever creating or drastically changing your website or other web presence.

It is also a good idea to keep in mind the don’ts of local search marketing.  Anything that seems unethical probably is.  Link Spamming and Keyword Stuffing are two things you will definitely want to stay far away from.

Not sure how your internet marketing plan is going?  Ask us, we’ll let you know…for free.

Happy Marketing!

Facebook Business Page Tips-Part 1-Setting Up Your Facebook Page

Facebook Business Page

Today I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a business owner.  He stated that he “despises” social media, especially Facebook.  His words exactly were “I don’t want to use Facebook to sell”.  I explained to him that Facebook and other Social Platforms should not be used for selling as a primary objective.

You should be using social media for building relationships and communities.  This allows your audience to get to know you, and eventually trust you if you are using social media correctly.

On this post I will give a 8 pointers on how you should set up your business page.   All too often I see a business set up a personal Facebook account to use as a business.  With a personal account their are limitations including the number of “Friends” you can have.  I have also seen many Facebook pages set up only to sit idle with no profile, information, pictures or posts.  While it might seem easy to some, others will find setting up a Facebook Business page…and managing it, a daunting task.

In the coming weeks we will discuss engagement, management and etiquette.

Setting up your Facebook Business Page

growth1.  Include all pertinent information in the about section

This seems like a no-brainer but I am constantly astonished at the number of Facebook pages that do not have a completed about section.  The about section should include your website, phone number, operating hours,  street address, parking and any other relevant information.

2.  Custom URL

Once your page has 30 followers Facebook allows you to customize your URL.  Instead of a URL that looks like facebook.com/123456778001343 you can change it to facebook.com/scottgombarllc.   Obviously the last option is much easier to remember and looks better on business cards and other collateral.

Getting those 30 followers is important for analytic analysis as well.  Facebook will open up their insights to you once you reach this milestone.  Using insights gives you more information about what is and isn’t working and is extremely important in the growth of your Facebook Page and Inbound Marketing Program.

3.  Custom Cover Photo

Your page needs a personality and that starts with a cover photo.  A cover photo should be unique and draw attention.  You should also add a description of your cover photo including hash tags and a location if applicable.

The cover photo can be anything really.  You could have pictures of the products or services you offer, the company name or what it is you do.  Be careful to not include contact info or promotional offers as this is a violation of the Facebook terms of service.

4.  Custom Profile Image

If applicable the profile image should be that of the person who owns or runs the business.  This gives the page a little more of a personal feel to it.  Followers of the page, and people in general are more at ease working with a person rather than a logo or corporation.

However this is not always applicable.  In the event that a person’s head-shot will not work then a corporate logo is the next best thing.

5.  Tabs

Tabs almost always seem to get ignored and I am not sure why.  Tabs are like a gateway into the rest of your business.  You can create tabs that link to other social profiles, an email sign-up, contests or even other webpages.

Tabs should also have custom images to match your company’s branding.  For example on my page the tabs have the same color scheme (for the most part) as my branding.   This gives you a more professional image on Facebook.

Using my page as a reference, I have tabs to other social media profiles, a tab to sign up for my email list, a tab featuring a contest I am running at the moment and a tab to explain what I do in a little more detail.  If you are not taking advantage of the tabs you are missing out on a lot of potential interaction, and conversions.

6.  Like Other Pages

This is overlooked even more than the tabs.  Facebook allows you to like other pages from your page.  This has obvious benefits including the organic growth of your own following.

Besides the potential growth of your own following, you can also look for potential clients this way.  Using Facebook’s Open Graph you can search for and find other businesses and entrepreneurs who have pages and may be in the market for your product or service.   It also gives you the added advantage of getting to know potential clients, what they do, how they operate and where they are located.

Facebook does not allow pages to follow personal profiles.   This could lead to businesses potentially spamming people, and Facebook would rather you use their advertising platform to develop your following.

7.  Invite Your Friends

Facebook does allow you to invite any of your friends from your personal page.  In fact you don’t even have to manage a page to do this.  Once you visit a Facebook Page there is an option to invite any one or all of your friends to like that page.  This is how you will want to begin developing your following.  Inviting your friends may not seem advantageous to growing your business since they likely already know what you do but in doing so you now potentially reach others who are not friends with you or following your page…every-time you post.

6 Degrees of Separation on Facebook

8.  Use Facebook Ads

Facebook AdsFacebook has an advertising system that allows you to advertise your page or boost a post.  What’s nice about Facebook Ads is they allow you to be very specific about who you want to target.  You can base your target on Geography, Interests, Age and even Gender.  I would suggest using this system once you have invited friends, and even encouraged friends to invite others.

I will write a follow up post to Facebook Ads at a later date.

 

Get On Facebook and Get Started!

Next week I will post more on audience engagement so make sure you come back.  This should keep you busy enough for a day or 2.

Need help getting started on Facebook?  I would love to help you out!   Just click here to contact me or call 203.806.0736