You probably already know that making sure your business is discovered by potential consumers is not as simple as being listed in the Yellow Pages and Google anymore. In fact, there are a number of sites and apps that want to be the go-to guide for consumers looking for local businesses. It’s important to make sure you’ve got the right information in the right places to be discovered, and here’s how:
1. Do a Google search
The first thing you need to find out is what happens when you search for your business. So do a search on Google and make sure you can find yourself, because if you can’t do that, there’s no way your potential customers will be able to either. What you’re looking for specifically is the details of how your small business is listed.
South by Southwest, especially the interactive portion of the festival, is all about brands. They’re there to get your attention, either as sponsors, party hosts, service providers or more. The tough part is competing for eyeballs in a space crowded with other brands out to do the exact same thing. Sure, that’s true in the marketplace all the time, but SXSW is a distilled, concentrated version of the attention problem. We were there, we saw what worked and what didn’t, and we’ve got a couple takeaways you can apply to any brand marketing opportunity for your small business:
1. Have something to say
The most successful companies at SXSW timed their participation with a major product, app or feature announcement. It’s not enough to show up: there’s got to be something to catch everyone’s attention. That’s especially true if your audience knows you already: giving them something new gives them another reason to pay attention to you again!
Much has already been made of Facebook’s big press conference yesterday where Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new Social Graph Search. But what is it, exactly?
In a lot of ways, Facebook Graph Search makes a lot of sense intuitively: enough that it’s almost a surprise that we haven’t had it before. Basically, it’s using the ties between us all and all the data Facebook has to spit back out search results. Given how much data Facebook has, it’s easy to imagine that Graph Search could be pretty powerful.
Facebook itself gave several examples of how this kind of search will work. One idea was using interests or likes of your friends to find compatible invitees for a movie night. But for a less personal (but more far-reaching) example, Facebook point out how a journalist might use the Social Graph. You can read their official post here for a thorough explanation, but the basic idea is that journalists will be able to use FB as a Rolodex. You could look up people by where they worked when, or if Facebook Places has them at the scene of a big event.
Social network and microblogging platform Tumblr has recently announced a few new features that should make it even more attractive to marketers, including analytics to let brands look at how well their messages resonate on Tumblr.
By all measures, the service is incredibly popular. It hosts over almost 70 million blogs, and receives billions of views each month. Almost 50% of its users are under 25, making the service an especially appealing platform for marketers looking to reach the coveted 18 – 25 year old demographic. Plus it’s the kind of service that’s addictive: interactions with other users take place within the site’s “dashboard,” and it’s really heavy on video, visual and joke content. In other words, it’s fun.
If you haven’t used it, the big thing that sets it apart is the “Reblog.” Basically, with one push of a button you can copy the content of someone else to your own blog, and then comment on it if you want. Until now, there was no way for a brand to really measure the reach of all those reblogs or likes (the other key way of interacting with a post). That’s like not being able to measure the impact of retweets on Twitter, or shares on Facebook, and it was a real problem for marketers.
David Egger is Lead Marketing Manager for AT&T’s IRU (Individual Responsibility User) Mobility Programs. You can find more blog content from David and other experts on emerging technologies and mobile application on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.
With so many options to promote your business today and an American economy that seems to be driven by advertising and its revenue, how does a small business develop a mobile marketing strategy and rise above the white noise? Michael Porter offers marketers some great advice for situations like these: “A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique.”
A first-year marketing professor will teach that Marketing is about 4 P’s – product, place, price, promotion. While I can’t help you decide how to price your products in this blog, I can tell you that knowing your mobile marketing strategy as it relates to product, place, and promotion will help center your mobile marketing strategy.
The first step in developing any communications about your company is to know exactly what you want to say about your products and services. You do this by intimately knowing these parts of your business. What is your product, who buys it, when do they buy it, how often do they buy it, what triggers those purchases? Examining and answering these questions will get you quite far down the road from your competitors, as these are the questions that high-cost consultants will ask … and they are the questions most business owners won’t be able to answer adequately.
For example, is your product something not even sold to consumers? Your mobile strategy will be vastly different than a mobile strategy for a consumer product. Is your product something purchased on a whim, or a planned, expensive purchase? This will determine how you design your strategy and optimize it for the type of customer that your business will serve best. Is the buyer of your product someone younger or older? While the elderly are joining social media in greater numbers, you’ll need to tailor your approach depending upon how your customers approach the mobile space.
I predict companies who don’t have social media management platforms will be like companies today who don’t have a telephone system.
Yesterday we talked about how HootSuite has acquired Seesmic to reach even more business customers. We also got a chance to talk with Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, about his thoughts about where social media is going, how its going to impact businesses, and what small business owners can do to be prepared.
1. What tips can you give small business owners looking to build their social following?
Dave Olson, HootSuite’s VP of Community, put together the following social media tips for small business users looking to build their social following:
· When it comes to social media strategy, amplification is key. Make sure you tap the right channels during an optimal time of day. For example, restaurants may benefit from Tweeting daily specials at lunch time. Timing is crucial! The best time to send messages is on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday is a catch up day and Friday is too close to the weekend, so try your best to avoid those days. Also, you will get the most traffic by scheduling your messaging according to Eastern Standard Time.
· Social messaging should be tailored to each audience: short, succinct and catchy messages are appropriate for Twitter, longer, more detailed posts work for Facebook and Google+.
Last week Gizmodo got its hands on an Apple training manual for retail store employees, and they ripped it to shreds. Writer Sam Biddle seems generally freaked out by how specific the manual is, and took issue with the retail giant’s emphasis on catering to customers’ feelings, saying “Sales, it turns out, take a backseat to good vibes—almost the entire volume is dedicated to empathizing, consoling, cheering up, and correcting various Genius Bar confrontations.”
He’s wrong, and Apple’s right: sales is good vibes.
Apple has figured out that customers want to feel good about their purchases, and while that’s partly a consequence of the product itself, it’s also a result of the buying process. When customers have a positive experience at an Apple Store, they come away feeling good about their new computer, Apple as a company, and about themselves. And happy customers are repeat customers.
But what really sets Apple apart in the retail space is making it easy for all their employees to give customers that “good vibes” experience, knowing that that’s what sells. Read More
Did you know that Facebook messages have “read receipts?” Basically every time you read a Facebook message, the sender on the other end can see exactly wheat time you read the message – down to the minute.
It may be nice to know that others have seen your messages, but it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re the recipient! After all, if someone knows you’ve seen their message but haven’t responded, they can easily misinterpret that as avoidance, when really you’re just busy or you know, forgot.
For years, web developers (and clients) loved Flash. It allowed creativity (and marketing!) unbounded by the crude design capabilities of html and css, and it seems like there was a time where every site had invested in a flash intro, full of sweeping graphics and logo fades.
Well, the time of the Flash intro is over. It sounds harsh, but for most small businesses, if you’re still using Flash it’s time to update your site ASAP. Why? Well, it’s a mobile world, and Adobe’s battle with Apple means that iDevices will never, ever support Flash. It’s just not going to happen, and it seems like we’ve gotten used to it at this point. And as of now, Android devices have stopped supporting Flash too. On August 15th the Google Play store pulled Flash, so that Android users will no longer be able to install Flash, and the upcoming Android release (4.1 Jellybean) will not include Flash at all. Users that already have Flash will continue to receive security updates, but that’s it.
That’s not to say Flash is going anywhere for awhile. Flash content is still incorporated in many sites across the web, mostly through video. And it takes a long time for technology to be completely “phased out;” Windows 8 will still support Flash, and it’s still the way that video providers deal with the rights. Eventually we’ll be moving to HTML5, the latest set of web standards that supports more sophisticated and interactive content, as well as incorporating video standards. But right now, HTML5 isn’t completely supported by all browsers, so we’re still in a kind of standards limbo.
So what is a small business person to do? First and foremost, don’t use Flash, unless you have technical needs that absolutely demand it. If a cutting-edge web presence is crucial to your brand image, then HTML5 is a good idea, as long as you make sure it degrades gracefully and your important content can still be seen by people in IE7. But for most small businesses, reliability and browser cross-compatibility is preferable to cutting-edge technology. Aim for a quality website presence that doesn’t rely on Flash and instead can be viewed easily by anyone anytime on just about any device.
Questions? Leave them for us in the comments – we’ll do our best to help!
Do you use Instagram? The photosharing app has gotten huge in the last year, and now boasts 80,000,000 users. To put it in perspective, that’s almost ten times the entire population of NYC. Plus, it was acquired by Facebook for – no joke – a billion dollars. That gives the service access to the money and resources of one of the top tech companies in the world. Long story short, Instagram isn’t going anywhere, and it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The first big new feature announcement since the acquisition was rolled out yesterday. It’s called photo maps, and it’s essentially geolocation. Your photos are displayed on a map based on where they were taken, with the streamlined and simple design we’ve come to expect from the service. Previously the only way to experience Instagram photo was as a timeline, moving backward or forward through the past. The new map feature is much more immersive, and helps conjure that feeling of “being there” even better, which is exactly what we want from our photos in the first place.
We hear a lot these days about how brands should be engaged in storytelling, and Instagram is a great place to start. Small businesses can use the new mapping feature to be engaged with their customers and consumers throughout where they live, not just where they do business. It’s easy to imagine a small business taking photos where they source supplies, with partners in the community, or at drop-off point for deliveries to bring that business to life, so to speak. And what if a small business found a way to encourage folks to tag photos from their location? It’d be a great way to get a business name our to the networks of those users. Think of Instagram’s new map feature as another way for customers to find you – with the built-in trust bonus of a referral from their network.