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.
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.
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.