How to Use Twitter if You Are a Small Business

As a small business owner, you probably don’t have a lot of money to pour into advertising or time to spend on social marketing. You may try your hand at SEO or may have even hired a company to help out, but if you are like most small businesses, you rely on word of mouth to build your customer base.   Today’s modern “word of mouth” is social media outlets like linkedin, manta, Facebook and Twitter.

Over the next few months, we will be presenting you with a series of articles that will help you leverage the power of social media, search and business listings to promote your business.  These articles will be in plain language that every small business owner will understand and will help you make the most of your time and money with surprisingly great results!  We start with Twitter.

Twitter can help you spread the word about your business without a large investment of time or money.

The first step in using Twitter for your small business is creating an account and profile. Make sure that your screen name, known as your Twitter handle, matches up with your business. Avoid writing an overly clever profile. Keep it simple and describe exactly what you do in plain language.

Twitter is a network of followers. You want to follow individuals and companies that add value to your Twitter experience. It’s a good idea to follow other small businesses rather than Fortune 500 companies. In turn, you want followers who are either current customers or potential customers.

When you’ve built a solid following of customers or potential customers, offer some Twitter-only specials. This will make your followers feel more valued and engaged. You always want followers to pay attention to your tweets.

Be sure to include your twitter account on stationary, business cards, menus and your website.  Encourage people to follow you and provide incentive in the way of a discount, free service or another promotion.

When used appropriately, Twitter can be a useful tool for small businesses. Be cautious about over-Tweeting. You have 140 characters to work with per tweet. Make them count, and you’ll see your efforts pay dividends.

In the next blog in the twitter series, we will go over short cut keys and how to create meaningful messages that help you promote and grow your business.

Happy Tweeting!

 

 

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Good SEO is like a Well Orchestrated Symphony

In preparing for the Digital Now Conference in Orlando, FL at the end of April where Tim Judd, CEO and President of eLocal Listing and MyLocally will be presenting a session on “Leading the Way through Local Search, Social and Mobile”, I came across an article on building a better case for investing in SEO that made a poignant point.

It said that “SEO is not one single activity, but a culmination of processes, skills, techniques and people that must work in perfect harmony in order to be effective, like a well rehearsed orchestra. If you have ever listened to a musician practice a viola, a horn, or other instrument where each portion on its own sounds disjointed, you can understand that only when each instrument or section plays its part and joins with the whole, is music really made. It is the same with a business’ Search and Social strategy. A tweet here and there hardly makes music, in the same way that an occasional (and often random) facebook post or a poorly ranked website constitutes an online marketing strategy.

A business’ Local Web Strategy must be cohesive and consistent and must incorporate those elements that assist in visibility and conversion. A well thought out marketing strategy with the various aspects of the “Web Equity” can make beautiful music, but like that one instrument, alone or not well rehearsed will only sound like noise.

In the next few weeks the team at MyLocally.com will be posting the various elements that are necessary to create an online marketing strategy that will encourage engagement, increase online ranking and assist with conversion.

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Social Media Events That Shook Our World

Like Apple, MicroSoft, and Google changed the way that we all live, so hasn’t the world of Social Media.  People all over the world tweet, chat, facebook, video or share photos in ways that would not have been imaginable ten years ago.   Social Media has had a profound impact on social, political, economical, and legal issues from Orlando, Florida (Casey Anthony) to natural disasters (Hurricane Irene, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami) to social and political unrest (Egypt, Lybia, and more!). So when Social Media Week announced their choices for top ten Social Media Events I thought I had the list down and well, a few of their choices surprised me.

1)                The number one spot went to the uprisings in the Middle East.  Social Media not only transformed and galvenized the citizens of these countries, but kept the rest of the world informed and put leaders on alert that there was a new type of revolution against tyranical governments and that is the Social Media Revolution. 

2)                The impact of Social Media on the events of the Japanes earthquake and tsunami was no surprise.  Not only did it provide a window to the aftermath of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami,  Tweets, videos, blogs and facebook group pages connected families with their loved ones.

3)                Number three shocked me.  I had actually forgotten about this event, but Social Media Week voted Julian Assange’s Wikileaks scandal as their third choice.  While I have more than mixed emotions about the use of Social Media to potentially impact and put our troops at risk, I must admit that with out social media the age old debate over freedoms versus freedom of speech reached a new level and a new audience.

4)                OK, number four should be no surpise to any one.  The world watched and tweeted about the train wreck called Charlie Sheen.  I resist using his catch phrase, but must admire his ability to capture the nation’s obsession with reality, tragedy, and celebrity.  Charlie was able to amass  one million twitter followers faster than any other “celebrity” before him.  Now Demi Moore should take note that you can rise and fall just as fast with Social Media and stop tweeting naked pictures of herself, thank  you!

5)                I am embarrassed to even write this one, but number five is the man with the most unfortunate name and one who shouuld have remembered the lessons of the school yard with kids teasing him about having a name like Anthony Weiner.  Honestly how could he think it was a good idea to tweet a picture of his, well … need I say more.

6)                OK, I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what this event is actually about, but Rebecca Black’s viral YouTube hit and subsequent backlash defines the new entertainment business model.  After watching the YouTube video, I learned a few things about the power of Social Media to catapult someone to stardum, but Rebecca I knew that Saturday comes after Friday, but thanks!

7)                Number seven is one that my friends and  I witnessed first hand with our tiara wearing, champagne sipping royal wedding slumber party.  My much younger friends spent as much time on their iPhones reading and posting tweets as they did eating the hand made scones my husband made to honor the event!  In the days leading up to the event 70% of all social media mentions focused on the Royal Wedding.

8)                I have been busy launching MyLocally.com, so I have to admit I was a bit behind on the news when my friend Steve facebooked about the riots in the UK. Note only did Social Media play an important part in informing the world, politicians blamed the violence on text messages, mobile devices, and instant messaging.  So much so that they considered blocking access to social networking sites. 

9)                Hurrican Irene came in at number nine, with tweets on par with those about the tragedy in Japan.

10)             Number ten isn’t a tweet or a post, but instead the recent offers, buy outs and ipos in the Social Media space; LivingSocial, Pandora, DealMaps, Groupon, Linkedin and more.

These top ten events only emphasize the importance of Social Media on today’s society.  

The impact that Social Media has had on businesses is as large and I promise to write my next article on harnessing the power of Social Media for businesses.

Until then – I think I will tweet the world (OK, my measly 50 followers) that I am saying good night!

 

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It’s Google’s world; we just live in it!

As I began to do research on Google’s gobbling up of Zagat, I found a quote from Paul Saffo, Managing Director of Discern Analytics, that I just couldn’t resist “borrowing”.

In its continued effort to capture more of the online local marketplace, Google announced the acquisition of Zagat for an estimated 200 million dollars.

For those of you who may not know, Zagat was the Yelp of yesteryear whose reviews could make or break a business.  Formed three decades ago by Tim and Nina Zagat with the notion that “normal” people could review a restaurant or hotel, it revolutionized the way consumers made choices.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when travelers would never think of venturing on vacation or to a restaurant without their little burgundy book and its short and witty reviews.

This acquisition of Zagat is another sign that Google wants to (control the world), I mean to crack the local business market and to keep competitors like Facebook from gobbling up a share of the estimated $140 billion that small businesses spend on local advertising each year.  Google wants to become the go-to guide for consumers researching local businesses.

 It also reinforces Google’s emphasis on unique, relevant content; reviews; and consumer participation as part of a good user experience.  Marissa Mayer, in charge of Google’s local strategy, comments that “Zagat is something where the Google spirit, format and process of reviews come together, I just love the user-generated content nature of it.”

What this will mean to those of us who focus on Local SEO is still unknown.  My hunch is that those SEO companies that focus on good, unique content and on providing a good user experience for both small businesses and consumers will probably fare ok with this new acquisition and the on-going strategy changes at Google.

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MyLocally on track with Local Search and Social Media Trends

As the launch of MyLocally.com fast approaches, we see affirmation that our strategy combining Local Search and Social Media into one product is in line with current Search trends every day and we grow increasingly more excited for its launch.

BIA/Kelsey recently launched their Social Local Media (SLM) advisory service, focused on the “growing significance of social platforms” and has appointed Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com to act as their associate program director.  Mr. Shotland is a respected social and local SEO expert, and consults for eLocal Listing with our new product offerings such as MyLocally.com. BIA/Kelsey’s SLM advisory service will focus on monetization models for social networks (something SMBs have been struggling with for years), metrics that measure social transactions, social commerce, and Facebook’s continued evolution as an effective online marketing tool.

Another sign that MyLocally is on track with current Search and Social Media trends, especially with our focus on its community Market Place pages, is the introduction of BuddyPress; Social Networking in a box. This new free and open source web product allows communities to build an integrated solution in which participants are connected through blogs, updates, messaging, and more. Exactly the direction that MyLocally.com is taking.

MyLocally.com is a new online community that allows its participants, both businesses and consumers, to actively participate in deals, reviews, blog posts, and Q&A.  The more they participate, the higher you appear on the Market Place Page or the better deals you will receive!

Our current launch date is September 25, 2011; until then, keep coming back for more updates.

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MyLocally setting trends in Local Search and Social Media

As the launch of MyLocally.com fast approaches, we see continue affirmation that our strategy of combining Local Search and Social Media into our new online directory product called MyLocally.

BIA/Kelsey has recently launched their Social Local Media (SLM) advisory service, focused on the “growing significance of social platforms” and has appointed Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com to act as their associate program director.  Mr. Shotland is a respected social and local SEO expert, and is an integral part of developing MyLocally.com, consulting and working with us from the inception of our new one of a kind directory product.

BIA/Kelsey’s SLM will focus on monetization models for social networks (something SMBs have been struggling with for years), metrics that measure social transactions, social commerce, and Facebook’s continued evolution.

Another sign that MyLocally is in line with current Search and Social Media trends, especially with our focus on its community Market Place pages, is the introduction of BuddyPress; Social Networking in a box. This new free and open source web product allows communities to build an integrated solution in which participants are connected through blogs, updates, messaging, and more.

Exactly the direction that MyLocally.com is taking.  We are excited to be presenting the market place with a new online community that allows its participants, both businesses and consumers, to actively participate in deals, reviews, blog posts, and Q&A.  The more they participate, the better the experience.

 Our current launch date is September 25, 2011; until then, keep coming back for more updates.

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Social Media – What’s Next?

Social Media has evolved since 1971 when two machines sitting next to each sent a message to today with both Facebook and Google competing to be the Social Media King.

Take a look at this slide show, that we found on wmur.com – How many do you actually remember?  Hey wasn’t 1971 about the same time Al Gore was inventing the Internet?

Enjoy – if you remember them all or some that aren’t mentioned … send a comment

 The Evolution of Social Media

If you can’t see the captions, turn them on, it is interesting!

 

 

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Where Search Meets Social

Someone just asked me to explain MyLocally, and I immediately said “It is merging of Local Search and Social” (a slogan in the making somewhere).. The person said “Oh cool”, then said, “But what does that mean?”  To which I replied “Well, it is the best of everything ‘hot’ in Internet Marketing; social media, reviews, e-business and deals”.

Here I was trying to explain what we were creating, and while I can’t let out all the secrets, I thought I would attempt to define what “it is” by defining all the components in this revolutionary new product.

 I work for eLocal Listing, so I have to start with Local Search:

A Local Search is performed when someone uses a local search engine (or online directory) to find products or services in a particular area.

With Local Searches, the user enters “what” they are looking for (such as keywords, business name, consumer product, or business category), and geographical information indicating “where” (street address, city, country, zip code) they want to find it.

Once the query has been submitted, search engines (or directories) return results closely matching the inquiry.  The closer the better!

 OK, one down – five to go; Social Media:

The phrase ‘Social Media’ is being tossed around a lot these days, and when people hear the phrase, they think Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linkedin. But Social Media is (or should be) defined with a broader brush stroke to include Social Book Marking, Social News, Blogs, Photos, Video Sharing, Wikis, Google+, and the list goes on.

I am going to try to paraphrase a definition of Social Media in this way: Social Media is an online platform or network that creates a two-way street (and in many cases much more) that gives users of an online community the ability to participate in online activity.

Next is Internet Yellow Pages or IYPs:

The “Dinosaur” of print advertising resurrected itself in the 90s as an Internet Yellow Pages or IYPs.  Like their print counterparts, IYPs are directories where businesses are listed and categorized so that consumers can easily find a business listing.

The best examples are SuperPages, Yellowpages.com, Merchant Circle, Dexonline, and Local.com.

Blogs, images, videos and more:

It is impossible to define these, and you know what they are anyway. I can tell you this – lots of us start blogs and few of us follow up and update them, but search engines love them. They are a great way to promote a business, expand your brand, and reach your targeted audience. We got ‘em, and you’ll love them!

Videos- I remember when we announced that we would be including videos on our profile pages, it was revolutionary at the time, probably not as much now, but nothing tells a story like a video.  Sure there is Vimeo, but there is no one like YouTube.  YouTube announced in May 2011 that it had hit 3 billion views per day! Not sure that any of ours will go viral; but we will use the power of video … how did that song go? “Video killed the radio star..” Ok, showing my age.

Images- A picture is worth a thousand words. You have heard of Flickr and Panoramio; uploading, commenting on, sharing and viewing images is part of our Internet experience.

Reviews – We live and die by the sword.. Not sure why I just said that, but the reality is that reviews are becoming increasingly more important to businesses.  The old word of mouth recommendations from friends of friends of friends has been replaced with reviews.  Even Clark Howard on CNN (who I watch at 4am each day!) told me to check out Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Kudzu reviews before bringing my car to an auto repair company.  Why he didn’t mention Google Reviews I don’t know, but I may just change my opinion of him when he recommends viewers to check out MyLocally reviews.

Check out these stats – Yelp is now reporting 50 million users a month and boasts 17 million reviews.  Customer reviews have the biggest impact on the decision to buy: 90 percent of people said reviews have an impact on their decision; 60 percent say they are the most important factor.

 Deals -  OK, I have to admit I hate them, am not sure I really understand how to use them, and am overwhelmed by the amount of email I get about deals and coupons.  Now I must also confess that I was never a coupon cutter, and that my Money Mailer, Valu-Pack and Local Community deals always went straight into the trash. So I wasn’t part of the old coupon/deal phenomena, why would I think I would be part of the new world of online deals and coupons?

But the reality is that Google felt a certain coupon site was worth 5.3 billion dollars, and LivingSocial recently announced that they plan to raise $1 billion in an IPO. Those stats and these numbers speak for themselves: 50+ million subscribers to Groupon, 22 million Groupons sold in North America and $980 million saved in North America.

I do admit I love the way that they build the community of sharing and promoting deals – I like it a lot!  (Hint, Hint!)

So that is us … well all that and more … like climbing the wall, badges and more …

So that is mylocally.com – pretty exciting huh?

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