Social Media Marketing Conversation-Starter Tips

When it comes to social media marketing, establishing good communication between you and your followers is pertinent in driving your business forward in todayís competitive market. Depending on the type of business you run, there are different methods you can use to start conversations that will ultimately generate new business.

While there are numerous ways to start successful conversations, the key is doing it in a way that supports your business goals. The following are a few basic tips you can use to get the ball rolling towards meaningful connections with your social media followers.

Establish a Human Connection

Unfortunately, with todayís technology, the use of robotic responses has caused many people to feel like just another ìsale.î Because of this, establishing that you truly are a living, breathing human being goes a long way towards gaining trust amongst your followers.

There was a time when addressing your audience by their first names or posting pictures was enough to show that you are real; however, that is no longer the case.

While you can still use these methods, the trick is to verify that a person actually posted them. You can do this by making a comment on a posted picture saying when and where it was taken, commenting on the current weather in your area, or just sharing normal day-to-day experiences in your business that people will relate to.

If you can do all of these things, your followers, in their natural tendency to move towards human companionship, will leave comments in response to your posts. As a result, you show them that you are indeed a real person, and conversations will ensue based off your personal dealings.

Involvement

Involvement from social media fans is a great way to start conversations. By opening up real discussions, you close the ìdisconnectî that people experience when they are conversing through a computer. You will be able to make them feel as if their input truly means something to you.

Some examples of involvement include:
* Asking your audience for advice about a particular subject, asking them about personal struggles (related to your industry)
* Asking for pictures of customers using your products
* Having ìcustomer of the week/monthî competitions
* Asking for customersí opinions about decisions you are making in your business
When you open up to your social media followers and truly treat every one of them as a personal member of your online world, the conversations will come and flow naturally; this is the key to overall social media success.

Mobile is Now a Major Factor in Ranking Your Website

If your company website is not mobile-ready, more than likely, you’ve been missing out on potential customers. When mobile users try to access websites that are not mobile responsive, it’s a truly frustrating experience.

Most of these searchers move on to your competitors’ websites and never return to yours. So as you can guess, these are lost leads.

But now, there’s another crucial reason to mobilize your website; Google is making some changes that will negatively impact any website that is not mobile-ready.

What is changing?

Mobile-friendliness has been a factor in Google search for several years now; but no one knows exactly to what degree. However, Google has announced that mobile-friendliness will now be heavily weighed as a ranking signal.

On February 26, 2015, Google wrote this statement on their Webmaster Tools blog: ìThis change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.î

A Google mobile algorithm update will start on April 21, 2015 and will roll-out over a period of a few days to one week – influencing the organic results for web searches performed on mobile devices.

The search industry has labeled this update as ìGoogle Miceî and ìMobilegeddon.î

Why the change?

More than 60% of all Google searches are now performed on mobile devices. So Google’s overall goal with this update is to provide a faster, smoother experience for mobile searchers.

When mobile users try to access websites that are not mobile-ready, it’s pretty much a waste of time. In order to match mobile users with the most beneficial websites based on their searches, this algorithm update will ensure that mobile-friendly websites get the most search engine attention.

What does this mean for your business?

Basically, if your site is not mobile-ready, it will suffer lower rankings on Google when users search for your type of products and services on their mobile devices.

On the flip side, if your website is mobile-friendly, you may experience an increase in rankings; especially in cases where most of your competitors haven’t optimized their websites for mobile.

What should you do?

1. Make sure your website is mobile-ready. This may sound like a no-brainer, but just because your website looks fine on a desktop or laptop does not mean that it is the same for mobile devices.

Google has provided a free ìMobile Friendlinessî tool where you can test your website for mobile.

Here’s the link:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

You can tell within a few minutes whether or not your site meets the basic standards for mobile optimization.

2. If your website is not mobile-ready, itís time to change that. Whether you go with a complete mobile-responsive website re-design or a stand-alone mobile website, take measures as soon as possible to ensure your business is not negatively impacted by this major update.

Having a website that is optimized for mobile viewing is critical. Not only is it important for providing convenience to your mobile customers and prospects; itís now a major factor in how well these mobile consumers can find your website when searching online for your type of products and services.

How Social Media Activity Impacts SEO

The key to website marketing success is search engine optimization, or SEO. Obviously, as a business owner, you want your website to be listed among the top search results when people search for something related to your products or services.

While there are many ways to enhance the SEO of your website, it is important to note that social signals are an important piece of the puzzle.

However, some business owners are under the assumption that the more page ìLikesî and ìFollowersî they get on social media, the better SEO success they will achieve as a result. If you have 400,000 followers on Google+, Twitter or Facebook, that must mean you are well-known to the search engines, right?

Not exactly; while studies have shown a correlation between higher search rankings and page activity, they may not be directly related. A Google employee, Matt Cutts, made a statement saying, ìÖyou have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook, to the best of my knowledge, we donít currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithms.î

In other words, just because you have thousands of page Likes and Twitter followers does not mean your website will rank higher on Google searches.

Social Content is Powerful

Itís all about valuable, quality content. SEO has changed in the past few years; today, human-friendly content rules the world of SEO. Since social media is mostly about posting and sharing great content, it definitely enhances your SEO efforts.

Content that is shared often across social media is viewed as “quality information” by ìcredible sourcesî that should be ranked accordingly. As a result, it is indexed and can show up in the search results.

Social Media is the New Link Juice

Having quality links back to your website is one way to strengthen any SEO. Gone are the days when we could just buy a bunch of backlinks from random sources; the search engines got smart and decided that any old backlink wonít cut it. Socials signals from sites such as Twitter, Google+, and Facebook are powerful, credible backlinks to your website that will definitely contribute to your overall SEO efforts.

Social Engagement Matters

If you use sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to share links and other connections to your website, chances are better that more people will check it out and talk about it.

Once people are talking about something, sharing links, and posting about the content, social signals kick up a notch.

Speaking of Google+… obviously, this is Google’s favorite social media platform. Therefore, being consistent and active there is a surefire way to boost SEO.

Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines

Social media profiles also rank in the search engines, which is a great way for additional exposure. If you do a search for any companyís brand name, theyíre social media profiles are likely to show up in the results.

In conclusion, social media definitely plays a huge role in your search engine rankings. While there is no definite outline on how it all works together, it is a fact that social media is a valuable addition to your marketing efforts. Focus on consistent engagement and creating great, shareable content and youíre on your way.

Local Citations and How They Impact Your Online Visibility

Usually when you hear that you have received a ìcitationî it is a bad thing, but in the online marketing world, the opposite is true. If you own a business and you have heard of or read about citations, you may have been confused about exactly what they are.

In simple terms, a citation in the online world refers to any time your company information is listed on a website. These include listings such as local directories, such as Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, and SuperPages.com.

Also, citations can be found on other types of websites such as local blogs, news website, employment sites, social media sites, government sites, the Chamber of Commerce site, and anything else that may mention your company.

Even if the mention has no link to your companyís website and only your companyís name is mentioned, it is still considered a citation.
However, the more information included, the better.

Why Citations Are Good

Any online exposure for your company will bring attention to your products and services, which you can obviously benefit from. Exposure opens you up to potential customers that may have previously passed you by; and citations play a vital role in helping you connect with these potential buyers.

In addition to that, citations are critical for search engine optimization today. Google and other search engines use citations to rank your business. The more citations you have, the higher your website will list in the search results. A higher ranking means more web traffic, which in turn equals more business for you.

So what is the key to getting more citations for your business? While there are a variety of ways to accomplish this, it all boils down to building more of a presence online.

However, several factors should be considered when building these citations.

Tips for Citations

At the very least, your citations should mention your companyís formal name, your physical address, and your local phone number (also called NAP for ìName, Address, Phone Numberî) – and anything else that tells a search engine or a customer exactly who you are.

Even more important is that all of your citations are consistent and contain the exact same information. Using different addresses and phone numbers (except in the case of multiple locations) could actually hurt your ability to gain any benefits from them.

Finally, a citation is most effective when it is accompanied by as much information about your business as possible. So be sure to include your hours of operations, pictures, videos, details about your products and services, and any other helpful information you think your potential customers would like to have.

4 Vital Website Content Tips

A website is made up of three essential components: URL/Hosting, graphics/design, and written content. Many website creators are preoccupied with aesthetics and have a keen eye for design, but not nearly as much concern and dedication is invested in the content.

While design is quite important, as it sets the tone and highlights the professionalism of your brand, it is paramount that your content gets at least an equal amount of attention.

Written content reigns supreme when it comes to your brand. It is the most difficult aspect of your website to flesh out, and can sometimes be an overwhelming undertaking. Here are some ways in which content makes the biggest difference.

Attract the Search Engines

The most impressive design on your website will never suffice in convincing Google that you have outdone the competition if you do not actually say anything. Above all else, search engines are driven by written content. When they crawl your page, they scan your text, searching it for quality, probing for links and relevant articles.

Search engines crave information that is pertinent to search terms, which is why keywords are the hallmark of your content. Having a lot of content, and ensuring it is rife with relevant information, is vital in achieving the organic rank necessary to drive the most traffic to your website.

Tell Your Story

There is no need to become over-involved in SEO jargon and lingo. What matters more than anything is that your content is written in a way that your guests, clients, and prospects find useful and helpful.

When you are writing the About Us page, do just do that. What is your business about? Offer your goals – past, present, and future. Insert images to divide large segments of text. Provide information in your content that will help answer questions your visitors might have.

Remember, your real target is an actual human being and not a search engine. That is why providing information that is both relevant and helpful is conducive to keeping your visitors from leaving your website to find one that can give them the information they are searching for. Be a human who writes like a human, for humans. There is nothing more sterile and inauthentic than a page so overwrought with key words that it becomes unintelligible.

Get to the Point

Successfully written content means understanding what your target audience wants. If you are a restaurant owner, then you probably want to provide your business hours, a downloadable menu, images of menu items and food, as well as photos of your restaurantís interior.

A page about your catering service or accommodating large reservations is tremendously beneficial. Conversely, it would not make sense to have staff directories with bios on every employee; that would make more sense for a financial institution or a university.

Mix It up a Little

Blogs are a great way for touching on broader topics with more detail. It offers new content for your website on a regular basis, thereby attracting new visitors and, most importantly, garners new links. When visitors read your blog and want to share it with others, it gets passed on via link format, thus drawing in more traffic from sources you may not have had access to otherwise.

Content does not always have to be words on a page. Depending on what service or product you offer, consider other avenues, such as a vlog (video blog), a podcast for download, or a fascinating infographic.

4 Valuable Customer Retention Strategies

Even if your business has an established customer base, the only way to continue to grow your business is by keeping your customers interested and happy.

These happy customers, in turn, produce more customers by way of positive reviews and word of mouth recommendations – not to mention feeding your bottom line with their repeat business. If you want to build and maintain customer relationships, try these 4 valuable customer retention strategies.

Blogs

Consumers love to keep up with the news. No matter what type of business you run, keeping an updated blog that focuses on your company and industry news will keep your customers interested in your product.

Blogs allow you to reach limitless readers, and they are automatically targeted by searches relevant to your industry or location. You can also use your blog to promote new products, sales, or upcoming events so your customers can stay involved in your business.

Sites like Blogger and WordPress offer beautiful blog templates that are simple to set up and easy to keep updated. Make it easy for your customers and potential customers to follow you online by linking your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts to your blog.

Also, invite your readers to post their comments and make sure you respond to them in a timely manner so your customers feel their opinions are valued.

Loyalty Programs

The majority of any companyís income comes from repeat customers; thatís because it takes more advertising dollars to gain new customers than it does to keep your current ones.

So it only makes sense to focus on retention. Adding value to your existing customersí experiences will keep them coming back and loyalty programs are an inexpensive way to accomplish this goal.

Discounts or free products will always appeal to customers who love your products and services. Therefore, keep implementing different types of rewards programs should go a long way in generating repeat sales from your existing customers.

Questionnaires & Surveys

Every customer has an opinion and, whether good or bad, they want to share that opinion. Offering questionnaires & surveys to your customers helps them feel involved in your company and lets them express their needs and wants.

When you design and offer surveys to your customers, be sure to show them their opinions are valued by taking steps to implement their suggestions where viable, or by offering to remedy any negative situation they may share with you.

Social Media

There is no denying social media has an effect on everyone with a computer or smart phone. When you invite your customers to interact with your business through social media accounts like Twitter, FourSquare, or Facebook, you keep your name close at hand while gaining valuable insight into your customersí needs and wants.

Assign one tech-savvy person to manage your media accounts and be sure to encourage your employees to interact with your customers while showing genuine concern for their opinions.

Remember, if you are not retaining your customers, you are losing them. By implementing these 4 valuable customer retention strategies, you will continue to build your business by taking a proactive role in influencing your customersí desire to stay with you.

3 Ways to Ease Into Digital Marketing

Every business that wants to be successful in today’s marketplace must participate in online marketing. We are living in a digital world. Operating in an analog frame of mind will do nothing for perpetuating further success.

Stay up with your competition by learning how to ease your way into digital marketing so you can experience all of the benefits it has to offer.

Get a Mentor, Coach, or Consultant

No business can succeed by itself. Instead of trying to take on online marketing alone, find a professional who has achieved success in this area. This could be a mentor, coach, or consultant.

The shortcuts that come along with connecting with people who are already knowledgeable about online marketing are priceless. Not only do you avoid the many different headaches that come with going about things the wrong way, but you will also get a helping hand to ensure that your efforts results in more revenue.

Educate Yourself

A successful business owner is always learning. There are many facets of online marketing, so gain more insight by doing a little research. Do a search for online marketing sites and start reading up on the different options and how they work so you have some idea before you get started.

Download free reports and sign up for e-newsletters on the topic. Go to your local book store, and peruse the many magazines and books about online marketing. Go to your library, and check out some books. You can even upload books to your Kindle reader for extra learning convenience.

Join Networking Groups

Networking groups are just as important in the digital marketing field as they are in the traditional marketing venues. They play an important role in meeting other business owners and like-minded people. The groups themselves are a fantastic support community to encourage and inspire others to prosper and advance.

Find a networking group that fits your company’s products or services ñ both online and offline. Ask other business owners how they utilize digital marketing and if there are any recommendations available. You will be amazed at how friendly and helpful even your most fierce competition can be. A winner likes to see others succeed.

Make your online marketing journey a meaningful and successful one by taking these few steps before jumping in. Laying this foundation for success will make things a lot easier and a lot more profitable at the end of the day.

3 Tips to Grow Your Social Media Followers

If you run a small business, you probably already know how vital social media can be in increasing your bottom line. Getting started on social media, however, can seem daunting because there are so many options and ways to gain followers. We have gathered a few tips to help you build a loyal social media audience.

Use Keywords

No matter what social media site, whether Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, using keywords is vital to increase your followers. For most of these sites hash tags work best, especially if you have your social media accounts connected with one another. This allows you to post something to all of your social media sites without having to do it physically.

Using keywords in your profile can help you attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. If they like what they see on your profile, they are likely to become an on-going follower.

Comment Wisely

Customers and clients love hearing from the small businesses they follow. By commenting on posts related to your business, you can get people interested in your business. You do have to remember to comment wisely, however, so that it does not feel like spam. You should also consider following people back if they start following your business on any social sites. People are much more likely to purchase from a business with which they are ìfriendsî than one that is not on any social media sites.

Post Regularly

People want to hear from your business. The more they engage with you, the more likely they are to become customers or clients, so be sure to post regularly on social media sites.

Try to be as consistent as possible by posting special offers, giving tips, adding pictures, polls, or anything else you want without overwhelming your followers. Look at which posts get the most attention to see what your followers are interested in seeing. This will not only allow you to provide content in the future that is relevant, but it will also give you a good idea of the demographic engaging with your business.

Social media sites can make a huge difference in your revenue if you are a small business owner. By keeping up with trends and ensuring that your content is what your followers are interested in, you will start seeing a boost in the people that engage with your content. This social interaction will ultimately translate into sales for your small business.