Marcy Design, a professional website and social media company, won the Summit International Award (SIA), for website development in the Business-to-Business category. The business website chosen was for DataMed Solutions and the website link is: www.datamedsolutions.com. SIA is a premier international awards competition, promoting excellence in over 22 countries.
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.
Worldwide the smartphone market has grown 79.7% since 2010. And nearly 100 million phone have shipped in the first quarter of 2011 according to IDC Worldwide reports. The Apple iPhone growth is strong while the Android phones are gaining speed. Now is a good time to make sure that your business website is optimized for viewing on cell phones. The design of your website should look good on a customer’s computer and cell phone.
In web design and online marketing circles, we hear a lot about what social networking is, what it can be, and how it stacks up against other ways to reach customers like search engine optimization or online videos. When I hear these conversations, two things stand out: first, that none of these are truly even separate disciplines anymore – what you do on social media sites affects your search engine optimization, and vice versa, for example – and also that it misses the point a little bit.
It doesn’t matter what we, as marketers, think about social media. The fact is that customers everywhere love them, so they are going to be an increasingly-important part of our plans to reach them whether we want them to be or not.
At the time of this writing, Facebook alone boasts somewhere around 600 million members, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing up. Twitter is nearing 200 million, and LinkedIn is connecting more than 50 million professionals with one another. The more people continue to sign up and use social networking sites as a forum to meet one another and share ideas, the more we are going to have to use them as marketing mediums.
The bottom line with social media is that your customers and potential customers love it. That’s reason enough for all of us to keep paying attention to it.
There are a lot of reasons we could give you about why your business needs to have a Facebook fan page, like the fact that the site currently has more than 500 million registered users and is growing quickly, that it’s a great way to meet new customers who have self-identified their interests, or that there’s no better way to let buyers see you as more than just another company.
But as great as those are, none of them are the real reason.
When it comes down to it, the one thing we simply can’t ignore is that social media in general — and Facebook in particular — is all about word of mouth advertising for businesses of all sizes. It’s a concept that’s as old as commerce itself, but also the single marketing tool that’s more profitable and effective than any other.
When your customers are busy saying good things about you on your Facebook fan page, other people believe it in a way that they wouldn’t if you were saying those things about yourself. The longer they keep it up, the more it spreads and the more other new customers want to come and talk about how great their experience was. And that good word, as a business asset, is truly priceless.
The brilliant marketing team at Bing only has it half right: The incredibly high number of results that come up for virtually any Internet search has made it harder, not easier, to find what we’re looking for. But what they conveniently leave out of their clever ads, however, is that what we want isn’t really another search engine – not even a smarter one.
What we really need is informed advice from other people.
For that reason, the biggest room for growth in Internet marketing doesn’t have to do with search engines all, but social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. By tapping us into our networks of friends, colleagues, and family members all at the same time, they help us take some of the confusion out of the buying process by giving us instant access to people we consider to be experts. While there might not be as much sheer information as there would be from a site like Google or Bing, that’s not nearly as important as getting opinions we trust.
The answer to “search overload” isn’t another search engine, it’s making connections with real people. Your potential customers are figuring that out every day, so embrace social media marketing and be sure they can find you in the places that are going to matter most. And make sure that your website design and marketing works towards that goal.
Given that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are such a relatively new phenomenon on the Internet, you would think that they would present a wide open field, that there wouldn’t be any “rules” to deal with yet…
That’s not exactly true; there is one guideline you had definitely, positively better pay attention to. Here it is: Use social media to connect with customers, let them find out more about you, and give you input or feedback – Do not use social media as a soapbox to shout your marketing message as loudly and often as possible.
The one thing that makes all of these social media sites work so well is the idea that they are fun and interesting. And few things aren’t as fun or interesting as being sold to. How many people do you know that look forward to meeting door-to-door salesmen or sitting through a timeshare presentation? Exactly.
When it comes to reaching out to the attention of buyers in social networking sites, think of holding their interest, not grabbing their wallet. Keeping things in that perspective won’t just make social more entertaining for everyone involved, but will yield you a lot better long-term bottom line result. And it’s important to incorporate your social media efforts in your website design and marketing plans.
With the steady flow of hype and attention that’s being thrown out on social media, video marketing, and other newer tools these days, it’s appropriate for business owners to wonder which of the old ideas and tricks are still worth devoting any time and energy to – especially when it comes to blogs.
There was a time, only a few years ago, when the first thing a web designer, online marketing expert, or search engine specialist would have advised the business owner to do would be start a blog. These days, however, there are a lot more blogs than readers, although many of them haven’t been updated in months or longer.
So should blogging still be a part of your marketing mix?
We feel strongly that it should, but with one minor tweak: the focus shouldn’t be on blogging quantity, but on content quality. Search engines still love blogs, and a fresh supply of writing is a good thing for any business or website. But it’s hardly worth the effort if no one actually reads what you post, so skip the absolute fluff, the keyword-rich “articles” recommended so often in the past, and turn your attention to topics and insights that actually matter to the men and women who buy from you. There’s always a place online for quality content, and people can recognize it when they see it.
As an added bonus, keeping to a regular blogging schedule forces you to come up with new ideas at regular intervals. After a few weeks or months, you might find yourself thinking about things that might not have occurred to you otherwise, which can in turn lead to some of your best strategic breakthroughs.
Blogging might not be the hot marketing topic it once was, but that’s actually helpful if you’re willing to devote time and energy to producing something worth reading. So make a regular appointment with yourself to sit down and come up with some fresh posts – you might just surprise yourself and your customers.
Blogging is still an effective form of social media marketing, but only if it’s done the right way. Talk to Marcy Design about making your blog a stronger tool for bringing in new clients and customers.
Corning Incorporated is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics. Recently Corning developed and released a viral video titled: A Day Made of Glass on YouTube. The video beautifully depicts a family in the future utilizing Telecommunications, Life Sciences, Display and Environmental Technologies in their everyday life. These technologies are being developed today. The video has garnered over 10.5 million views.
A Day Made of Glass… Made possible by Corning.
When Apple unveiled Ping – its proprietary music social media site – with iTunes 10 recently, it was more than a sign that big companies are becoming increasingly interested in using social networking as a marketing tool. It was also a reminder that, throughout the industry, things are always changing, and quickly.
In short, the only thing you can really bet on with social media is that the future is going to be different. As a small business owner, someone who wants to use sites like Facebook and Twitter to bring in business, but can’t spend a lot of time and money on the effort, how are you supposed to keep up?
Here are a handful of tips for staying on top of the constantly-moving target that is social media marketing:
Look for big trends. Some things are going to fall under your radar, and that’s alright. It’s not important that you know the finer points of Facebook’s relatively new advertising program, for example. What does matter is that you know it’s out there, and that your options for using social media as a way to find new business are increasing. As long as you can see the big picture, you’ll be able to devise a winning strategy.
Use social media sites and profiles like ingredients. LinkedIn is great for different reasons than Twitter, which in turn is a lot different than the new Ping. For that reason, you don’t ever want to rely on a single site or profile to market you effectively; to get anywhere, you have to use them in combination without having any one ingredient overpower the recipe.
Strive for consistency. The only way to get better at marketing through social media is practice, and that’s a good thing – the more you post, make connections, and update your profiles, the more visible you’re going to become to other users and search engines. Try to work on your social media plan a couple of times a week. That amount of effort won’t overwhelm you, but it will keep you in the game and on top of the biggest trends.
Find an online marketing partner. The easiest way to shorten the learning curve is by teaming up with someone who has the time, experience, and expertise to figure out the ins and outs of social media marketing. Most often, that’s going to be your web designer or online marketing team. Take advantage of the help that’s available – the right partner can translate your business goals into a social networking plan for a fraction of the time and expense it would have taken you, and with better results.
Confused by social media and looking for a way to add it to your online marketing mix without breaking the bank? Contact Marcy Design today – we know our way around Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and how to make them a profitable part of what you do.