Take Control of Time Spent Doing Your Small Business Online Marketing

Online Marketing

Online Marketing Options

Developing an online presence is a necessity.

However, you hesitate because: you hear it takes a lot of time or you are not comfortable with technology or you know your customers won’t use it or they all know about your business already. Perhaps it a combination of these items and more. So why have an an online presence?

Yet if you are reading this, you are using that same technology. And if you look around, you will see mobile technology all over being used.

Let’s not hide the fact though that the time needed for a large online presence can be substantial. This article clearly points out that fact. Yes, it really does talk about 12 to 104 hours per week just for doing search engine optimization of your web site. Such time is not even available in your wildest dreams. Perhaps if you didn’t want to sleep…… And we haven’t even talked about your social media efforts yet!!

But are you at that level?  If so, then go for it.  If not, keep reading.

So what can be done to build an online presence and yet control the amount of resources it takes? 

These are my thoughts on the steps you might take. Others may disagree but this will get you started.

First, learn about the online world and the technology. Understand its place in a marketing effort. Then find a way to dip your toe in the water. Let me suggest the following steps:

  1. Learn about the online world and be ready to commit some resources. Take some classes about what this online world is at your Extension office, library, school, college, etc. Any time you are out, look at the people around you, they are probably online with a mobile device (and you may well be reading this on your mobile device). And ask how much you can carve out to commit to developing an online presence.
  2. Online starts off-line so talk with your customers. What are they doing online and how are they getting online? What would they like to see from your online presence? At the same time, see what your competitors are doing as well as other businesses in your community.
  3. Claim your bubble. You know, that little pin that shows where a business is located. Get listed in at Google business and other similar services. Correct inaccurate information. Google is the current big player but don’t overlook other sites such as Bing and Mapquest.
  4. Check out the review sites where your business might be listed.  Set up a plan for reviewing those sites on a regular basis. I would encourage at least a weekly review and a response to any negative reviews. A thanks to positive reviewers would also be a good idea. Now might be the time to consider how you can get more reviews. (15 minutes per week)
  5. Set up Google Alerts or some other means of getting an update, such as Twitter lists,  Feedly or Hootsuite, to know when your name or the name of your business is mentioned online. You may also want to follow your key products, trends, or key industry informants (15 – 45 minutes per week)
  6. It’s now time to take the next big step in your online presence. My recommendation is to build a website. The reason for that method versus something like a Facebook page is you control it. Social media sites are owned and controlled by others. If they decide to change, everything you worked for can disappear quickly. Your site can vary from something basic to very elaborate with shopping carts, etc. You can do it yourself or you can hire someone else to build it. Taking this and step 7 may require more help and training. This is also where your required time commitment will start to grow.
  7. Another big step – Now it’s time to add social media perhaps including a blog.

You have covered the basics (Steps 1 through 5, and have moved on with items #6 and #7. The first five steps require a reasonable (dare I say small) ongoing time commitment, maybe as little as 15 minutes per week although I hope that you are getting lots of positive reviews that take time to read. Just a reminder, though, there is upfront time being spent to get ready.

At this point, you can look at social media advertising, search engine optimization, getting ready for mobile, and tracking your metrics.

The bottom line is you can begin an online presence without spending the hours suggested by that first article. And you can do much of the work yourself, even with the long days your business takes.

Additional information:

What Happens to Social Media Upon Death?

Online Marketing

Online Marketing Options

The issue of one’s digital legacy currently does not receive a great deal of attention. That fact lies in the relatively newness of social media.

Preparation for one’s death is not a new topic with estate plans, wills, trusts, and other legal documents. And some of one’s digital assets such as pictures, video and text are covered in these.

Yet the online social media platforms bring a new set of challenges.

Lara Bowman, Mississippi State University Extension Service, has put together a fact sheet outlining the options available on various platforms. You can find the material at: http://msucares.com/pubs/infosheets/is2011.pdf

This fact sheet is a great place to start if you need to handle the social media accounts for a relative or friend, either business or personal.  You may also want to check to see if your state has any laws regarding such digital legacies.

This material should help you get started. You can also check with your local Extension agent to see if there is anything state-specific.

 

Getting Found

Map pin

Photo (CC) by stefanopaganini, on Flickr

In the recent few months, I have talked with several small, rural business owners about developing an online presence.

One of the topics that always comes up is the need for them to be found on the various online mapping services. Or if they already are listed on a service, to make sure that their pin or “bubble” is in the correct spot and that the information about their business is correct. In a couple of instances, the pin was incorrectly located by about six blocks.

Six blocks in today’s world could just as well be six miles or six counties. People unfamiliar with an area depend on the directions provided by these online mapping services. If the information is incorrect, it is rare that the traveler will search out the correct location. The bottom line here is lost revenue.

What can you do?

The UNL Extension Community Vitality Initiative, has written a great blog on how you can “Claim Your Bubble.” Read the post and make sure that your business is online and that the information is correct.

An online presence is crucial in today’s mobile society. And the world doesn’t wait for you to get your information up. If you don’t put it there, someone will probably do it for you. It’s your job to make sure it is correct and then to regularly stop by to ensure it remains accurate.

Throw a Twitter Party, Have Fun and Grow Your Business!

Yes, it is possible to grow your business while having fun.  One way to do it? Throw a Twitter Party!

A Twitter Party creates an experience to engage your clients and prospective customers. Twitter Parties can build your online presence, market your enterprise and expand your brand.

Use Twitter Parties to connect with your audience, discuss timely topics and present information about your products and services

Join Alyssa Dye, Nebraska Extension Intern and entrepreneur, as she discusses setting up a Twitter Party while providing strategies designed to make your Twitter Party a success!

To learn more about Alyssa, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW9bxBUnQpE

Register for the Twitter Party event at: http://go.unl.edu/friday15registration

Missed previous events?
Check out the Power of Business YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerofBusiness
or the “Friday 15 tab at Power of Business. http://powerofbusiness.net/

While you are on the site, sign up to receive reminders for monthly chats and a newsletter designed to grow your business!

“See you” on later today at 11:15 AM CT!

 

What’s the most common online problem business owners face?

Article written by Courtney Rodgers, co-founder of Boutique Window, the online marketing tool for indie retailers. Boutique Window make creating an engaging online presence simple with pre-designed social posts, an easy email builder and a beautiful online showroom.

Botique Window on various devices

The two most common problems I see are not knowing where to start, and failing to spread the word after things get started.

There are so social networks and website tools available. If you try to jump into everything all at once you’ll end up overwhelmed. If you aren’t doing anything online I typically recommend starting with a simple website, a Facebook page, claiming your Google Places Business page.

You should think of your website as your digital showroom window or store front. It needs to provide customers with all the same information. Where are you located? When are you open? And most importantly, what do you sell and how do you help your customers? Make sure your address, store hours and contact information are clearly stated and kept current. You should also provide potential customers with clear and accurate information on what you offer. If you’re a retail store, show off your new arrivals. If you offer a service, provide clear details on what you do for your customers and what makes you different from your competition.

Take a look at this article for more information on what you should be thinking through as you plan your website: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/why-do-i-need-a-website-and-why-isnt-facebook-enough/

Facebook is a way for interested customers to stay connected to your business and receive periodic updates about current events like sales, promotions or new merchandise. To get started, I recommend that businesses post to their walls at least 3 times per week. This should be a mix of promotional or marketing content about your business and fun or educational content that your customers will value. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to say, services like Boutique Window (http://www.boutiquewindow.com) provide pre-designed and pre-written content suggestions for small businesses.

If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your business, you can get started here: https://www.facebook.com/business/

Claiming your Google Places Business page will make sure that Google provides accurate location and contact information when people search for your business. Make sure you update this information when it changes.

You can claim your Google Places Business page here: https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/‎

Once those are set up, you need to make sure you’re letting people know that they can find you online, especially on Facebook. Tell your existing customers during checkout. Share the news out to on your personal social media pages and encourage your family and friends to follow your new page.

More resources from Boutique Window:

Key Ingredients to Promoting your Brick and Mortar Store Online: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/key-ingredients-to-promoting-your-brick-and-mortar-store-online/

Facebook Tips, Tricks and Tutorials: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/labels/facebook/

Pinterest 101: http://www.boutiquewindow.com/blog/articles/pinterest-101-getting-started/

Article written by Courtney Rodgers, co-founder of Boutique Window, the online marketing tool for indie retailers. Boutique Window make creating an engaging online presence simple with pre-designed social posts, an easy email builder and a beautiful online showroom.