Why Sites Like Facebook and Twitter Make It More Important than Ever to Monitor What Your Customers Are Saying About You.
“Reputation management” has become a buzzword on the Internet in recent years, and for good reason: people trust what others have to say about you, your company, and your new products whole lot more than they trust your marketing materials.
This has always been true, of course, but with the rise of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it has taken on a whole new importance. That’s because it no longer takes a phone call or an in-person visit for a prospective buyer to get the scoop on your company. All they have to do is check out your fan page, look for tweets that mention you, or look for customer referrals on LinkedIn to get the same information. It’s instantaneous, and they can find out what they want to know before you even have a chance to make your case.
So what does this mean to you, as a business owner or marketing manager? It means that you should be proactive in looking for information – and especially customer impressions – on social media sites. Hopefully, you’ll be doing such a great job serving your customers that there won’t be anything negative to find. But if there is, however, it’s better to know at the time and try to resolve the situation than it is to start losing business without knowing why.
Social networking sites can be a big boost to your business, and your company’s reputation, but if you want any of that to happen, you need to keep close track of what buyers are telling others about you.
Almost everyone has a mobile phone. In fact there are 100s of million cell phones in the United States alone. More and more users are researching products and services on their mobile phone before they buy. There has been a 50% increase (2009-2010) in consumers using mobile phones to view sellers websites. Is your website designed to be mobile ready?
1001 Ways, Website Design
•on February 28th, 2011
If you were to ask business owners what the best thing about the growth of Internet business over the last 5 or 10 years has been, what do you think the answer would be? We would be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of them would point to the fact that a well-designed website, with a well-executed online marketing plan, can bring you a steady flow of customers from around the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
And the worst thing? That a website that isn’t working and fails to bring in new customers from around the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Amazingly, though, the problem usually isn’t with the design itself… it’s with the focus.
We aren’t just saying that because we are a web design firm, and we should be careful to note that there certainly are businesses that aren’t doing as well as they could be because their websites don’t look the way they should. It’s just a realization that most companies underperform online because they’re simply thinking too big.
Let us explain: from a marketing perspective, having access to millions upon millions of potential customers can actually be a bad thing. That’s because rather than focusing on what they do well, too many businesses try to be everything to everyone. And, not surprisingly, that rarely works.
Instead, figure out who really would want to buy what you sell, and what bit of value and benefit they can get from it. Finding that bit of focus can do more for your business online than anything else, but don’t stop there. Get to know your buyers intimately. Visit their forums, look at their websites, and frequent the other companies in your industry that they consider to be your closest competition. Sooner or later, you’ll start to get a feeling for what it is they really want from your business and website, and then you’ll be in a much better position to not only give it to them, but to explain it in a way that resonates with your customer base.
The sign of a successful business owner, online or off, is the ability to think like their best customer. So, if you want to find more sales and profits on the Internet, try to make the world just a little bit smaller by tailoring your website to a handful of specific buyers.
Need to make your online marketing plan fly? Then make your web strategy a healthier part of your bottom line.
Small businesses are using social media. But which ones? Facebook and Twitter are the prominent social media services used by both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies. Below is a terrific infographic from Mashable that peeks behind the curtain to reveal what small businesses are using to promote and marketing their products and services.
Along with the normal upgrades and improvements that come with any software release, Apple’s iTunes version 10 contained an accompanying twist – the first distributed version of Ping, a combination social networking / music purchasing platform.
If you haven’t seen or tried it, the premise is pretty simple: like Facebook, you can connect with your friends, family members, and colleagues through your Ping profile; and, as with Twitter, you can see feeds and updates from celebrity artists who want to share news and thoughts.
What makes Ping different than other social networking sites, however, is that it’s all built around the iTunes store. In other words, the whole point of sharing your taste in music, the interaction with stars from different genres, and the feedback you can give and receive in moments, is set to help you make a better buying decision.
On the surface, this is a win-win for both Apple and its customers; on a deeper level, it’s a huge win for that company, and probably a sign of things to come.
The reasons are simple: first, social media marketing is growing at an astounding rate. There are hundreds of millions of people using sites like Facebook and LinkedIn right now, and hundreds of thousands more joining every month. Companies have been looking for a way to tap into these markets more effectively for quite some time, and Apple seems to have figured out a relatively seamless way to do it.
And secondly, it’s just good old branding. The more you use Ping, the more likely you are to keep buying your music, and music players, from Apple. What’s more, the more accustomed you become to using it, the more likely you are to bring your friends and family into the network, too. In that way, Apple is turning social networking into a constantly-strengthening storm of new revenue.
Besides being the case of savvy Internet marketing strategy, though, what does any of this have to do with independent auto dealers?
Well, the music and auto industries have something very particular in common: people feel very strongly about their personal tastes and preferences. It’s not just about the car, or the band, it’s about the feeling that being associated with them gives you. For that reason, it’s a smart bet that the ties between social networking and the auto industry are going to deepen in the years to come.
Of course, a lot of that growth is going to come to and from the major manufacturers. But that doesn’t mean that independent dealers like you can afford to sit the game out. To take advantage – and reach your customers more effectively – you’re going to have to not only keep an eye on what the bigger players are doing in social networking, but also what kinds of industry and location-specific social media platforms are going to pop up over the next couple of years.
The real winners in social media so far – the companies like Facebook and Apple – are doing well because they’ve anticipated the next steps and made sure to be in front of them. Even if you aren’t going to be launching your own social networking site soon, there’s no reason your dealership can’t do the same. Auto dealers and manufacturers are going to rely more and more on social networking in the years ahead, so pay attention to where tomorrow’s customers are headed and try to get there first.
Facebook continues to dominate the social media landscape. As far as photos being uploaded by members, Facebook is averaging 6 billion photo uploads per month and is on track to having over 100 billion photo uploads by the summer of 2011. 750 million photos were posted on Facebook last New Years Eve alone! See infographic provided by Pixable below.
Marcy Design, a professional marketing, website design and social media company located in Columbus, Ohio, won 4 International awards from MarCom. MarCom Awards is an international competition for marketing and communication professionals. Entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies and PR firms.
Marcy Design won two Platinum Awards, the top award given from MarCom, for its work on 2 business websites. The first winner was for the Deckers Nursery website. Deckers Nursery is a company that provides finished nursery stock, specialty liners and grafts located in Ohio. The second Platinum Award went to DataMed Solutions website, based in New York, DataMed Solutions is a collaborative network of small to medium sized firms specializing in health economics/outcomes research (HEOR).
The remaining awards were a MarCom Gold Award for the Paul Peterson Company website and an Honorable Mention for an Ohio association website.
Social Networking (or Social Media as it is commonly refered to) is hot right now for consmers and businesses. Companies are trying to figure out how to add Social Media to their marketing plans. Below is an Infographic from onlineschools.org that gives some historical perspective.
For all the changes that have taken place in the business world over the last 10 or 15 years because of the Internet, it sometimes gets lost that things are changing off-line, too, and not only because of technology. Regardless of whether you are clicking a mouse or climbing into your car, the way we shop and buy is constantly evolving.
One of the lessons that come from this evolution, and one that we think has a lot of merit for online marketers, is the rise of the mega-retailer or “anchor store.”
Just a few decades ago, when shopping malls were in vogue, anchor stores were the retailers that most shoppers frequented from time to time. They were the big department stores, well-known shops, and entertainment attractions that were sure to draw people and families in. They were “anchors” in the sense that they always kept money coming in, while the other retailers around them might change.
These days, the megastores are just around the corner – they’re on the web, too, separating themselves from the smaller retailers. While buyers consistently flock to sites like Amazon and eBay, it’s the specialty online stores that rise and fall, do well or go bust.
The trick, then, becomes in figuring out how to become a Web destination, rather than an online store that people simply stumbled past when looking through the search listings. Here are five tips to make your company’s website stand out:
Get specific. Since you aren’t likely to become the next mega-retailer overnight, it makes sense to focus your core business on an area you know you can effectively compete in. Think about who your best customers are, and what you want to offer them, and then make sure every part of your site reflects that.
Be easy to find. Even though you want lots of people coming straight to your site later, that’s never going to happen if some of them can’t find it now. Don’t skip the important step of search engine optimization and web promotion; they are easy, but they lay the groundwork for growth later.
Be a source of news and content. One easy way to consistently draw traffic and viewers is to be the best source of news and advice they can find. Don’t let anything happen in your industry without offering some kind of insight. Over time, people will learn to stop by your site first.
Let people do more than shop. Stores come and go, but communities endure and go on for long stretches of time. Make sure you have a blog, social media profiles, message forums, and anything else you can think of that would encourage your customers to not only provide feedback, but use your site as a place to meet and organize around their interests. The more reasons they have to “stop in” on a regular basis, the more often they are going to end up buying from you.
Marcy Design can help you come up with a Web design and online marketing plan to turn your website into an Internet destination. Talk with us today to find out how easy it is to get started.