Spend your social media time more efficiently: a 10-step plan
Small businesses seeking to take advantage of social media face the same problem they have with everything they want to do that isn't absolutely necessary to keep the business going: time. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done and interact on social media - even though they know it's important, and that their customers expect them to be there. This 10-step action plan from blogger Heidi Cohen aims to help small businesses maximize their social media efforts and use their time more efficiently.
The "Three S" model of content marketing: search, snack, and share
Internet users receive an average of more than 3,000 brand impressions every day. As a franchise, you need ways to make your content stand out in the crowd. To keep ahead of the competition, try the "Three S Model" and make all of your content Searchable, Snackable, and Shareable. Searchable content is optimized with the keywords the people you want to reach are looking for; these are your customers' pain and passion points. Snackable content is optimized for busy people who are finding your content on mobile devices more and more often; it's easy to consume and makes them want to come back for more. Shareable content is interesting to them, easy to share with their friends and followers on social media, and gives readers something they can discuss. The model is described more fully in a blog by Patricia Travaline, vice president of marketing at Skyword.
Small businesses are big users of social media marketing
Eighty percent of small businesses now conduct social media marketing online, according to the Constant Contact Small Business Pulse Report, based on research conducted in December 2012 by the email marketing giant. Facebook and LinkedIn are the channels most used: 82% of respondents said Facebook is effective for them (up from 75% in May 2012), and 29% cited LinkedIn (up from just 10% in May 2012). Twitter and YouTube are also both gaining traction with small-business marketers.
Survey details content consumption patterns from multiple-device owners
As more and more Internet activity moves to mobile devices, it's important to understand the different ways people use their various devices to access online content. Content consumption is not a simple, focused activity any more. Increasingly, users are always connected, and they often employ multiple screens (TV, smartphone, tablet, e-reader, gaming console, desktop, and laptop). This past February, Microsoft, in partnership with Flamingo Research and Ipsos OTX, surveyed consumers aged 18 to 54 from five different countries to identify the four different types of content consumption from owners of multiple devices.
The power of transparency and honesty in business
Conventional business wisdom has always been to play your cards close to your vest, and not disclose anything you absolutely, positively don't have to. Information is power, after all. Think about buying a car, and how hard it is to get information from a dealer without haggling with salespeople (bad) and their managers (worse). But in this social era of the Internet, there's a positive value to transparency, and smart companies are taking advantage of it - even car dealers such as CarMax, discussed in the blog by Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion - along with McDonald's and River Pools and Spas (Sheridan's own company), which provide lessons in how to prosper by being honest with your customers.
Fighting back against "showrooming"
Shoppers connected to the Internet with always-on mobile devices often practice "showrooming," much to the chagrin of brick-and-mortar retailers. These shoppers come into a store, examine the merchandise they're interested in, then search online for bargains and make their purchases on the web - instead of from the retailer, who may have provided significant service to them yet doesn't make the sale. A brand like Apple is invulnerable to showrooming because its products are not available at a discount elsewhere, so its stores continue to do well, writes Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, in his Six Degrees of Separation blog. Some companies are experimenting with charging a fee to enter their stores, which will be refunded in the event of a sale. Most observers don't think this tactic will be very effective.
Pizza Hut's iPhone app takes a hit from customers
Pizza Hut has an iPhone app that is not ready for prime time and is alienating, not engaging customers, reports Douglas Karr, founder of the Marketing Technology blog and CEO of DK New Media. Karr reports that the app is crash-prone and regularly frustrates users who just want to order a pizza on their mobile device. Karr reports a Twitter conversation between a user (himself) and Pizza Hut's social media trackers. They don't earn a lot of points for replying with a cheerful suggestion that he contact the app developers to let them know about the bug! Papa John's got his pizza order instead.
Google Places is being improved
Many local business owners have been frustrated by how difficult Google Places and its integration with Google+ has been to set up and manage. In the interests of ease of use, faster updates, and integration with Adwords (Express) and G+, Google is updating its products, says Adam Morgan on Search Engine Journal. Since local search engine optimization depends on optimizing a business's listing on the Google Local platform, this is good news for everyone.
Mobile Internet growth points to the need for strong local strategy
Google's program to improve Google+ Local comes just in time. Web traffic from mobile devices surged from 7% to 15% during 2012, according to the just-released "Local Mobile Search Study" from the Local Search Association. The trend will increase as more people use their smartphones to go online. "The 2013 study, which features 2012 data compiled from several comScore digital and mobile metrics databases, demonstrates a significant shift in how consumers are accessing the Internet and emphasizes the importance of local businesses embracing mobile platforms as yet another venue to reach consumers," writes Search Engine Land contributor Natalie Wuchenich, director of research for the Local Search Association.
Facebook may adopt #hashtags
The hashtag, long a mainstay of Twitter, is also used by Google+ and Fecebook-owned Instagram. Hashtags use the "#" character appended to a word or phrase to indicate subject matter or provide context to an update. For example, users of the "#westernma" hashtag are indicating that their tweets have something to do with Western Massachusetts. Users can then search by hashtag to follow a subject. Hashtags also are used frequently at conferences to provide a stream of commentary to attendees and others who are interested in the event. Now Facebook is reported to be adding them, writes Ryan Miller in Search Engine Journal. That would provide some new ways to personalize content for its users, as well as helping make trending topics more searchable and visible, as they are in both Twitter and Google+.
Report: the most popular social networking sites
The most recent eBbizMBA report on the top 15 social networking sites (based on eBizMBA Rank, a constantly updated average of each website's Alexa Global Traffic Rank, and U.S. Traffic Rank from both Compete and Quantcast) includes the following results:
The full list, and popularity rankings in other categories, including the most popular blogs, top search engines, most popular coupon sites, and more are also available from eBizMBA.
Daniel Lieberman is the founder of Daniel Lieberman Digital ("I speak Geek - You don't need to"). Based in Shelburne Falls, Mass., he helps companies, organizations, and individuals learn to use the Internet to communicate, market, and brand themselves using the most up-to-date tools and techniques. Contact him at 413-489-1818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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