elainepotcher

"Dedicated to Strengthening Small Business in Maine!"

Some Best Practices for Blogging & Tweeting By Small Businesses or Anyone Really!

Now we’re at the part that I might call a summary of all the information that I have given you.  We have chatted for the last five weeks and to tell you the truth, I believe that I am going to miss this although it was a step out of my comfort zone and a real challenge.  If you knew me personally, you’d see that I am very shy but helping small businesses in whatever way I can, I will do anything to help them.  It is all to serve the small businesses.  I have such a burden in my heart for them.  I sure hope that this information has helped someone and if anyone out there needs my help, that they will get in touch with me by phone or email or twitter, even Facebook or Google+ and LinkedIn.  My last piece of advice to you at this time, is how you can find success by blogging and tweeting.

Yes, I agree with you, this is a very difficult part.  Starting a blog account and a Twitter account are very nerve-racking things.  The main thing to remember is that you need to show whoever is reading your post or tweet or your blog, that you are a real person that cares for your clients or customers and you want to help them in whatever way you can.  You can’t jump on them to sell them something.  I know that people and businesses use these platforms for sales, but in a round about way.  You must show the customer how much you care and how much you want to help them. They are your number one concern.  Sure, if sales happen in the end, that is great, but they need to see the concern in what you post out there.  If you show true compassion and you give great content, you should gain some real, true relationships that can turn out to be ones for a long, long time.  People want to see your heart in what they are reading so they can make a connection with you and know that they can trust you.

A wonderful resource out there is a book  that I had to read for Twitter to learn how to use it:  “The Tao of Twitter” by Mark W. Schaefer.  This is very well written and an easy read.  It has a lot of great information and all kinds of ways to reach him with questions.  He has a blog:  www.businessesGROW.com,  is on Twitter:   @markwschaefer,  on Facebook:  http://on.fb.me/markwschaefer,   on YouTube:  http://bit.ly/yt-schaefer,   and on LinkedIn:  http://linkd.in/mwschaefer

I would suggest you get Mark’s book and follow him online wherever you can.  He has been a great inspiration to me and I know that he could be for you too.  He loves to help people, businesses too.  The way he runs his business is the way that he’s teaching you to run yours on these sites.  He really cares and that is what you need, what we all need.  Someone out there that knows something and how to help us and that we can trust.  I don’t think that you could go wrong learning from this man.  He makes all these difficulties seem easy, like you can really do it and best of all, succeed at it.  He is very motivational.

Along with being authentic and sincere, you must figure out who you are trying to reach and what you can do to help them.  Find out at what level they are at and do not speak down to them.  They want to feel that you understand them and that you don’t think that they are stupid for needing help.  Treat them with some dignity, it will go a long way to securing your relationship with them for the long haul.  If they don’t need you now, they will respect your opinion enough to use you later or recommend you to a friend in need.  Also in your posts, don’t be afraid to endorse other businesses.  Show your support, it goes a long way.

Timing can be a very important thing to learn also.  There are different “good times” to use different platforms.  Some of the best practices for timing are:

–A “good time” for “tweeting” is late in the day and late in the week.

–A “good time” to update Facebook is the weekends.  That’s when most people are on the site.

–A “good time” for posting on blogs is Mondays very early in the morning between 6am-7am.

–A “good time” for sending emails is early in the morning between 5am-8am.

These are all just guides that worked for other businesses.  You must find what works for you and your customers.  I wish you well.  Good Luck!

Also, here’s a great summary for best tweeting and blogging tips.

6 Comments »

The Risks for Small Businesses To Not Offer Their Brand Socially Is Far Too Great!

I’m learning so much about dealing with social media and small businesses through my research. It has been a challenge but one that is offering me great opportunity. I am learning what to use with my own small business and also learning what others in different fields should use if they request my services.

The topic to be discussed this week is what the challenges and risks are that are experienced with taking your brand social, or not taking it social, including some real life examples.

I found a lot of risks involved but the risks that you take are more along the lines of not offering your brand socially then offering it socially. Yes, there are always risks when you put anything online. Everything is out there for all the world to see and even if you can somehow remove it, somebody has already seen it. You must be careful with what you put out there, we all know this.

Some of the risks in not using social media:

–You tend to lose credibility. Choosing not to focus on social media risks having your company labeled as a fly by night operation. If you can’t be found on Facebook or Twitter, people tend to question your motives and whether you are real or not.

–You will be missing out on potential customers. If you’re missing a social media presence, potential customers may choose the competition over you.

–You are letting your competitors take advantage. “In a way, opting out of social media is like letting your competitors answer the phone for your company: they’ll be able to talk to the people who were originally looking for you.”  I find this quote very interesting.

–You will be losing a competitive edge.  You must at least be listening to what is being said on social media platforms.  Listen in for potential customer service issues and general opportunities, and listen to conversations about competitors to get a better idea of what people like and dislike about others in your industry. This will help you get a competitive edge. If you don’t, they will.

–You will become obsolete. If you do not at least take a little time to give yourself a presence, you will not be heard from online, you will not be able to build customer relationships through social media, and the opportunities will go to your competitors.

–You will be missing competitive intelligence. Your absence means that you miss key information on everything from how they relate to their key demographics to what they celebrate in their cultures. A lack of awareness of your competition is dangerous ground.

–You will be losing your customers’ attention. Your clients are pulled in many different directions, and if you don’t invest in building relationships with them, you risk having them forget about you.

–You will be ruining your reputation. By not investing in social media, you risk ruining your reputation as a customer-friendly business. Whether you participate or not, your customers will post on Facebook, Twitter, and the others. You can either join the conversation and show you care or not join, which shows you don’t care.

–You will not be hearing your customers. The biggest risk is not having communication channels that allow you to listen to users. Listening on social media helps to steer you in the right direction with customer service/customer care. You can deal with things instantly, before they become real trouble, if you are listening and are involved with social media of some type.

–You will be missing out on growth opportunities. Without a social media presence, small business owners are reliant on word-of-mouth marketing and will grow much more slowly.  You can reach many more possible clients if you have a presence somewhere in social media.

Some examples of not using social media that I found:

–Travelocity and them not monitoring their website on the weekends. There was a mommy blogger that had made some complaints and they hadn’t got to them fast enough to stop them from getting out of control.

–Exxon/Mobile ignored Twitter and someone posed as them, created an account in their name and went with it.

–Associated Press got hacked and it caused temporary havoc in the stock markets. At least they were paying attention and got things straightened out.

–Avis Car Rental wasn’t paying attention to a customers complaints but the competitor, Hertz was and they helped the customer and now they have a new customer.

I found it very interesting that if you aren’t involved in social media, it impacts your search engine rankings. It puts you lower on this list, if at all.

So, I think you can see all the reasons that you should offer your brand socially then to miss out on all that it has to offer.

3 Comments »

Top “Mobile” Social Media Platforms Used By Small Businesses!

I think that maybe the time has come for me to have to “eat my hat” or my words. You see, this post, I had to find out what the top mobile social media platforms for small businesses to use were. I must say that the very top one that is being used and is suggested to use is Facebook. I have only ever looked at Facebook as a medium for friends and family to meet, share pictures and stay connected, but with this research, I have learned differently and believe that now, I am going to set up a business page or two for my endeavors through my Facebook account.

Some statistics that really set me back a piece were ones taken from a Verizon Wireless Survey done in August of 2013. When small businesses were asked what social media platforms they preferred for mobile productivity. First of all, 67 percent said that they used mobile social media and 33 percent did not. The most widely used mobile social media channels used among small businesses are:
–Facebook–88.8%
–LinkedIn–65.4%
 –Twitter–41.3%
–Google+–34.3%
–FourSquare–6.8%
–Others (including Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube)–4.22%

One of the biggest ones to surprise me, I guess, was the very low amount that used FourSquare which is a location-based application. I say this because according to Pew Internet and American Life Project, they say that 74% of U.S. consumers use location-based services on their smartphone and 46% of mobile phone users use location-based services. So with this information, I’m not sure why small business usage would be so low since that is where are the customers are? I will get to the bottom of this, if there is an answer, and will let you know what I find out.

There are many benefits of mobile marketing and here are just a few:
–Immediacy–Mobile phone users have their phones on them at all times and can respond to messages promptly.
–A 100% opt-in form of marketing–unlike direct mail, where businesses can purchase a mailing list, a customer has to provide their phone number in order to receive mobile offers.
–Personalization–Because messages are only sent to customers who have opted-in, personalized offers and content can be sent to increase response rates.
–Mobility–Customers can receive your message on their mobile device anytime, anywhere versus needing a computer, radio or tv to receive it.
–Affordability–Mobile marketing can be very easily and economically integrated with most business’s marketing programs to help increase response rates.
–Effectiveness–According to many surveys, text messaging has over a 90% open rate (83% within one hour) and, generally speaking, mobile response rates average around 15%.
–Highly trackable–User response can be tracked almost instantaneously. Plus, mobile marketing can be used to track other marketing methods by including a direct call to action in a radio or tv commercial.
–Sharing potential–Like email, mobile marketing is easily shared with friends and family. So marketers can get a whole lot more exposure with no additional cost or effort on their part.

I found these benefits all very interesting and that is why I included them and I’m sure that there are even more. This information came from an article from Dex One.

Something else that I found very interesting from this same article is: “search engines give higher ranking scores to business websites that also include a ‘mobile optimized’ version. Having location keywords are especially important to people searching for you on a mobile device. Also keep in mind that mobile users are often seeking fast access to information and services.” With this I would say that if you have a website anyway, you should make it convenient for all users, computer and mobile. There is a way to make this happen on your site and you would need to have someone experienced with this to help you, but I would believe that it would be well worth it.

As I said, this research has caused me to decide to put my prior thoughts of Facebook in the past and open myself up to what it has to offer me and my small business. I would advise you to do the same thing. Although you are able to cancel the page or your account, people will remember what they saw and read before you terminated it.

I believe that the biggest way that small businesses see whether they have been successful using Facebook as a mobile social media tool is the amount of “likes” or “hits” they receive. Although, to me, just because someone likes you, it doesn’t mean that they are going to do business with you but if they “like” what they see, they may tell a friend or two about what they saw.

I hope this information is helpful to you in making the best decisions for your small business.

1 Comment »

Small businesses must use social media, you can gain more business that way!

The current state of social media in small businesses is very thin. In some research, you might think that it sounds hopeless, but it’s not. You just need to put your best foot forward and take one step at a time. If you give it your best, you will succeed. Success is different for each type of business and for each small business owner, but I feel that the only way that you can fail is if you don’t even try. Failure, if looked at properly, is just a learning tool. You keep working with it and you will get it right. The biggest thing is to NEVER GIVE UP!

I had read that around 24 percent of small businesses use social media currently. The reasons for this are many but a couple of the biggest is fear of failure, not having the time, and not knowing where to start. I say, just pick something and try it. See what happens. It just may surprise you what you actually can do if you set your mind to it. Once you learn how to use a few of these social media platforms, there will be no stopping you. The sky is the limit when you have social media platforms helping you.

Before you can or should choose which platforms to use, you must focus on your target market. You must know who your customers are, where they live, what their lifestyles are like, what interests them, both in and out of business. Finding these answers will give you an idea of where you should take your business on the web as far as social media platforms are concerned.

I wish that there were hard and fast rules as to what platforms you should use for each type of small business, but there really aren’t. You must find your answers to the above questions and then find out where you belong. No matter what platforms you choose, you should definitely use something. With social media: you can easily interact with current customers, you can connect with thousands of potential customers, you have access to a global audience, and you can build your image and your professional brand, just to name a few of the things these platforms can help you with. Plus, another benefit to social media usage is the fact that a lot of platforms are free!

A lot of small businesses start with a blog/website to tell people all about themselves and their business. What they have to offer and a bunch of things like that. What they can do to help the visitor of their site. A blog is a great place to start.

The next item that a lot of small businesses use is Facebook and that is because most people already have a personal account so they already know how to use it and they just add a business page to their current account. I know that people say that Facebook is great but I myself am not going to focus on Facebook as much as some others that I am determined to use.

Many, many businesses use Twitter and that is because it doesn’t take a lot of time and it gets your point across. If you remember, in my previous post, I stated that with Twitter, things are done at 140-characters at a time. This platform is used to take care of customer service issues in a lot of cases. Plus, it’s helpful for current customers or maybe future customers to see who you are and how you take care of things.

Two more great platforms that are used by small businesses is Google+ and LinkedIn. As we discussed before, these are both considered business products and are great to be involved with. Whether you use Google+ or not, if you register with them, you have a better chance of being found because of their search engine. And LinkedIn helps to get to know other people in the same field, hiring people because of the online resumes. It just helps you get to know people that can help you to succeed in your endeavors.

As I said, there are no hard and fast rules about what particular platforms you need to use to succeed, you just need to find the ones that you feel comfortable with and that will help you reach the type of client that you have or are searching for.

I hope this helps you in making your decisions on where to go next.

1 Comment »

Social Media Platforms Good for Small Businesses

 

 

Are you trying to figure out what kinds of social media platforms you should use for your small business?

If you’re like me and new to social media, you can find things very confusing. I’m going to discuss the top platforms and then decide what would be the best platforms to use for the new accounting business I’m starting and maybe it will help you decide what to use in your business.

Blog: A blog is a place where you write your thoughts and ideas and hope that they are interesting enough to get someone to read or follow. For a small business, it’s a good idea because you can talk about yourself, your business and what you have to offer. You must be up front and honest with whatever you put on here and people will decide how they feel about you. If they like you, they’ll follow you. If they don’t, they won’t. Easy as that. Give it your best and it will show. This does take time to keep up with, but if you have good content, they will come.

HootSuite: Is a Social Media Management System or “tool”. You can keep track of most all of the other platforms you are using through this one tool. It lets you monitor what people are saying about you and your business. I would recommend this product because of the ease of use and the ability to manage everything from one spot.

Facebook: This platform is used for family and friends to keep in touch with each other and share pictures, things that matter to them. You can add a business page to your personal account to let people know what you are doing, but people using this platform don’t really want to be sold to. This one is really iffy and not something that I am going to use. I may put a business page on my account because I have one and that is totally up to you what you do, but I don’t see a lot of benefit to this except for how many people use this platform.

GooglePlus: This platform has some similarities to facebook but because of things like communities, hashtags, and hangouts you are able to target in on people who have expressed interest in learning about your business type. Everything that you do in this platform is indexed by its search engine, helping boost your rankings in Google for your website. A plus one (+1) can help your search results. No other network offers these benefits and it is worth checking out for this alone. I believe that this is going to be one of the first platforms that I use, after the blog and hootsuite. This is a great place for small business owners to get noticed.

Twitter: This is a platform that allows you to post 140-character messages to interact with your followers/networks. Talking about your business is encouraged here and it can draw more followers to your website. Here you would “tweet” what’s new or what’s happening with your business. With as many tweets that go on daily, you can get lost in the shuffle. I suggest tweeting often, with short, helpful, and targeted information to stay relevant and interesting so that you will gain followers. A real test of how much people like you is when they re-tweet what you have tweeted. I am definitely going to be involved in this platform.

LinkedIn: It is said that this is your online resume. It is considered a professional social media marketing site. It lists all of your work history, your experience, your talents, your strengths and other relevant data. You must keep this up to date to receive the best benefits. Customers/clients can recommend you on this site and that helps your business grow. This platform is great for networking, finding the right person to do business with and making new connections.

Foursquare: This platform is a location “check-in” service that allows customers to let everyone know that they are at your place of business. If you have a physical location, you should have a presence on foursquare. This might be something I use for my accounting business and it would be great for anyone that has a location for their business. Somewhere people can come and then let others know how great you are. Great free advertising!

Also, if I didn’t mention it, it is worth mentioning. All of these platforms that I have mentioned do have free sign up and no monthly fees, unless you decide to use their “extras”. FREE ADVERTISING! How can you beat that?

 

8 Comments »