Archive | Oct, 2010
Numbers don’t lie. Well – perhaps sometimes numbers don’t tell the full story – but what they do is frame ideas for us.
And the title is a little misleading perhaps – I’m not saying ALL small businesses should use social media marketing, but consideration needs to be made after understanding what it can do. I’m more focusing on the actual reach of social media today – and how small business owners are increasingly seeing the merits of social media.
With the surge in online activity, and Internet Marketing, one of the biggest – yet most often misunderstood (and misused) marketing channels is social media – marketing.
Business owners are oftentimes too busy to understand what it is and how it can affect their bottomline. The story really lies in the fact that there are over 500 million active Facebook users over 100 million Twitter users (although it’s estimated up to 20% are considered “active”), and then there is LinkedIn (I refer to the three as the Trifecta of Social Media – everything in threes).
It’s reported that Americans spend up to 36% of their time online, and almost 23% of that is spent on Social Networks. In one year, ending 2009, global (which oddly doesn’t include Canada) time spent on social networks increased 82%.
I would assume that Canadians are a little “less” social, perhaps, but you know when you look around that people are online updating their statuses, looking at other peoples statuses, tweeting, etc. Which leads to workplace after workplace banning Social Media access.
So what you say as a business owner. What does it matter if these “social networks” are leeching peoples time. The social nature allows people to share things with one another, it’s a conduit of influence, and more and more business owners are realizing this.
The number of business owners who reported using social networking for marketing increased from 10% to about 40% in one year, ending September 2010, according to a recent survey.
Facebook led the way with 27% using the site to attract new customers, which was followed by business owners using LinkedIn (9%), Twitter (8%), and blogging (5%).
On the downside, 17% of small business owners said that social media marketing and tools had not helped them.
For business owners, social media ultimately should be a two-way street. It’s about business owners connecting with customers and customers connecting with businesses,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN, in a statement. “More than 10% of consumers we surveyed reported posting a review of a small business through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and of these posts, two-thirds say the reviews have been positive.
Social Media is a form of communication businesses can have with its customers. Although 42% of respondents said that Social Media Marketing DIDN’T apply to their industry, it’s more of a case of not understanding what effect it can really have.
A simple rule of thumb is – If a businesses customers are regular individuals (and not other businesses and institutions) there shouldn’t be a reason to stay ignorant of the impact that Social Media Marketing can have.
Of course I say simple and you say HOW?
Everyday, you can send out a simple, and EXPECTED branding message.
What is it you ask? And I ask you, do you email?
As long as you email, and have a web entity, you should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, have an email address that expresses your brand. This means your email address should be “YourName@YourCompany.com”
I see too many business owners who have Internet Service Provider (this would be YourCompanyName@AOL.com or YourCompanyName@shaw.ca, etc.) or Web Email based email addresses (YourCompanyName@hotmail.com, etc.).
No matter what, you HAVE to not only project a professional image, but you have to market your business, even when it might not be so obvious!
So what’s the solution?
With each company I’ve been a part of the past three years, I’ve used Google Apps to power our email. There is a free (standard) version (which will be good enough for the vast majority of small business needs). The setup for it is pretty straight forward if you have a little bit of technical knowledge.
I know that virtually all hosting providers have their own email that they throw into whatever package they offer you, but what happens if you switch providers? Heaven forbid.
Google Apps provides the stability of Google, and isn’t JUST email, but I personally use the Google Calendar integration as well. Let me do a quick run down for you on how I use Google Apps.
1. I IMAP my email AND calendar into a desktop client for my laptop and desktop computers x 2 (Mozilla Thunderbird) – If you are still using POP mail, get out of the dark ages and transition to IMAP – which has similar performance to a MS Exchange server, without the headache.
2. I IMAP my email AND calendar to my iPhone.
3. When my computer or iPhone isn’t handy, I can login to any computer and access my mail through the gmail interface. SO, if you use gmail already, this is a piece of CAKE.
Other notes: Up to 50 users is free, you can create group emails, you can share calendars, it’s pretty awesome.
So there it is. And if you need any assistance, just give me a shout by posting a comment!
I know what to make of the recent news reported in the Globe and Mail that Yellow Pages launches its own web company.
It’s late in the game for a slow-moving goliath of a company. Yellow Pages churns and spits out sales people on such a frequent basis that it’s difficult for new sales people to service the book of clients they receive.
Since it was outsourcing its Search Engine Optimization work to Orange Soda and Pay-Per-Click Advertising elsewhere, Yellow Pages was bound to make acquisitions to bolster its ability to deliver a seamless – and less disjointed service.
The problem is, and it’s why there are a growing number of firms like ours – it’s not easy for a large entity like Yellow Pages, or Mediative to provide the service that small and medium sized businesses demand. The online service side, from a sales perspective is MUCH different than from the directory listing side.
“Clearly, offering traditional print advertising wasn’t enough for these national advertisers,” said Yellow Media chief executive officer Marc Tellier, adding that national advertising already brings in more than $100-million annually for the company. “We felt there was a unique opportunity to … bring this together to essentially serve what we think is pent-up demand.”
Traditionally with directory listing, the overwhelming majority of clients were sold their advertising space once a year. When it came time to re-up, the sales person would show up again. Yellow Pages could do that because of a relative monopoly it enjoyed in the directory listing space.
Selling Local Online Marketing
Online marketing is much more fluid. And Local Online Marketing is downright liquid. We can all see actions in real-time, and whether it’s hourly, daily, weekly, monthly perspectives, businesses nowadays are looking for more insight into their impact on a more regular basis.
What works against a big behemoth like this is giving really getting to understand the businesses they are working with and developing long-term relationships, from the online marketing view. Obviously what works for them is their brand name and money behind the engine.
What Yellow Pages Ought to Do
Personally, there are many tremendous providers out there and there is a way to bring them together to create regional hubs who would be arms of a greater entity (aka Yellow Pages). I have many more ideas on this, but since I’m not on anyone’s payroll, I’ll keep them to myself.
And I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks progressively enough at Yellow Pages to plan ad deploy such a crazy idea anyway.
As far as LocalTrifecta goes, we’re still new and evolving, but our Unique Selling Proposition is strong, and our pricing/service balance is outstanding.
We have been meeting quite aggressively the past few weeks with different businesses. Almost all the businesses we meet with have the same problems … we will try to address them here so at least you, as a business owner, know where to start.
To be crystal clear here the intent of internet marketing, at its core, is to drive traffic to a web property. This is what most firms offer to do.
Local Trifecta, on the other hand, realizes “traffic” might be great for a blog or a fan page, but for a business its all but useless if that traffic doesnt DO something.
Almost EVERY site we looked at was geared towards “information” and NOT conversion. Essentially this means the site was dedicated to telling your traffic who you are and what you do but NOT encouraging them to DO anything at all. Some sites didnt even have their contact information on the front page!!! A user would have to click over to the contact page just to be able to get a phone number!
It has been proven time and time again that the BEST place for a call to action is actually the TOP LEFT of a website!
Although I am sure this makes sense reading it we encourage you to took at your site and ask yourself if its “conversion” focused … do you have a clear and concise call to action? Is it above the 1st fold? Is there a sense of urgency? Is the process simple? and perhaps most important of all … are you able to track it!?