tips

Facebook Finesse! Part1: Cover Photos

It is 2012 and just about every central brand has a Facebook page. Facebook as a tool, is not just for big brands however, and small business are flocking to it.

Facebook is utilized best as what it is. A social marketing tool. It is not meant to replace a website, but rather to work in conjunction with it. Facebook and indeed, Social Media in general has massive value for marketing – specifically content marketing.

Not long ago our friend Brianna Smith at “Beingyourbrand” wrote a terrific article showcasing an eyetrack study by Mashable.com, that illustrated the primary points of focus for Facebook users. Here is the illustration:

Image source: Mashable.com

This illustration presents us with the “high traffic” areas, areas that are going to stand out immediately and will hold the viewer the longest. The fact is that pages with more images have a higher rate of traffic and longer viewing times. Of these images, the first and largest visual area is your page banner or “Cover photo”.

This Cover photo should be point number one for you. Taking the time to specifically design this image can pay dividends when it comes to engagement and time your audience spends viewing your page.

Cover Photo Schematics:

Facebook Timeline offers outstanding image showcasing. Take time to build the images for your profile and you will not be disappointed with the results

The Cover photo needs to be built to: 851 x 315 and in RGB (Designer hint: RGB for screen, CMYK for print). This image will effectively showcase your brand and all of the rules for content creation apply. Be bright, be colourful, be creative.

In fact Facebook covers have become such a perfect showcase for brand engagement, that blog posts and pages exist for no other reason but to showcase them. Curating them as one would curate great art.

Here are some beautiful examples from leading brands:

1. Facebook & Shell: Enhancing Their Brand Image & Compounding On Their Logo.

First and foremost, the Facebook timeline cover. A beautiful enhanced version of the well know “world map” logo on their sign in page. Referring back to this well known brand image in such a way reaffirms their brand and showcases creativity.

Shell offers another example of creatively referring back to their well established brand image and logo.

2. Fanta & Sprite: Showcasing Their Creativity & Colour.

Probably one of our favorites. They use the Cover photo here to promote “Likes” with their own little “gamification” (read the “about” section). Notice how Fanta designed their cover so that their Profile photo actually blends into their Cover photo. This type of creativity is an excellent area to showcase to your audience. This has in fact become a bit of a competition between designers.

Another great example for the soda industry. Sprite blends their Profile and Cover photos seamlessly for a very cool effect.

3. Shoppers Stop & PR Web: Presenting A Call To Action.

Shoppers Stop Cover. A company in India. The Facebook Cover can be used to offer a call to action, or to emphasize a brands promise and commitment. Here Shoppers Stop have boldly proclaimed their call to action, to “Start Something New”

In one of the more brilliant examples, PR Web has not only presented a call to action – but a reason as well.

4. Nike: Promote Positive Associations Between Products & Emotions.

Nike creates a positive association with their products by drawing lines between life, sports and activity, and their brand. They include images of many activities that may not ordinarily be associated with athletic wear. The images promote the idea of Nike being associated with activity from all walks of life.

5. Polaroid, Dallas Foodie & Sharpie: Showcase Your Products & Services Via Quality Images

Use your Facebook Cover Photo to showcase your products or services in action. The Facebook Cover Photo is an excellent – large – location to include quality photos. Show your products in all of their glory.

We get hungry just looking at this, and that is what it is all about. This Facebook Cover photo emphasizes what this page is about by showcasing high quality photos of high quality products.

Sharpie: Another instance of a brand showcasing their products or services in action via high quality imagery.

6. Roxy & Microsoft: Show Customers Engaged & Using Your Products or Services.

Showing a commitment to your customers by including images of them using your products and services, is a great way to showcase your brand.

Microsoft gives us another example of presenting customer engagement photos.

7. Nike: Present High Profile Examples Of Product Use & Endorsement

Nike presents a great example of product endorsement in this Cover photo. Showcasing high profile users or businesses that you supply can be excellent brand PR.

8. Manchester United & Oreo: Display Events, Important Occasions Or Historical Moments.

Displaying images of events or occasions of importance creates a sense of inclusion for your audience. It is like an invitation for them to celebrate with you. This is a big engagement builder.

Display moments of historical relevance. Celebrate with your audience and they will be engaged – which is the reason you are on Facebook in the first place, so Social Market. This particular example from Oreo is great! They celebrate a moment in their brands life, and engage their audience by celebrating days of important in their lives as well.

There you have it. Facebook Cover photos are awesome. They are a beautiful and mainstream means of using Social Media platforms to engage, communicate and promote your brand with the masses.

Keep in mind that Social Marketing is about just that, being social, engaging and creating dialogues. Learning about and educating others. The Cover photos are not meant to act as a billboard, but as a means to generate interest and conversation. Start talking to your customer on the social channels and you will have every reason to succeed.

Now go out create your Cover photo and engage your customers!

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

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6 Small Business SEO Tips

Small Businesses can still market big.

Small Business / Big Online Marketing.

97 % of consumers polled recently stated that they begin sourcing products and services through online means, a number that is increasing with the on surge of mobile tech.

Regardless of what business one may be in, a website is a necessity.

Creating a website is a careful balance of style and function. It needs to be visually stimulating and it needs to be easy to find.

The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the science and engineering that goes into ensuring a website appears at the top of specific search results. SEO is all about making a website the first one a consumer sees and it can take small business online efforts from zero to hero.

Here are some simple SEO techniques any small business can do today to boost its Ssearch Engine rankings:

Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips:

1. Develop The Website To Be Search Engine Friendly.

Almost every website platform is going to do this anyways. However if when a site is customized, several key areas should be examined. Consider your site map, the HTML or code readability and your Folder structure.

These technical aspects reside more or less in the background of every website. Many website designers  are highly focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing site. The aesthetics and image are very important, however a website that is not engineered properly will seldom be seen.

The engineered background of a website is what matters to Search Engines, it is what dictates the websites ranking in search results. Better search results mean a larger audience and more traffic.

Put another way. A good website succeeds in two areas:

  1. Human Audience: It’s layout and content is visually appealing, and it navigates easily – customers can find their way around without any trouble.
  2. Search Bot Audience: It’s internal coding and structure is virtually appealing, Search Engines can find it easily and quickly ascertain what it pertains to, thus affecting its ranking.

Technical engineering does not mean sacrificing appealing design, it simply needs to be considered an equal partner. When it comes to a websites technical engineering one is best to forget about “style” and concentrate on text based descriptions, content. The more clues a website provides to the search bots, the better.

Enter key words that pertain to your business & industry.

2. Determine What Key Words You Want Associated With You Website For Search Results.

This is most easily determined but quickly writing down the first half dozen ways you personally would search for your site. It is best to ask the same thing from those around you, then cross reference and determine which are the most common ways from all of the results.

A few of the results will likely be the same, those are the ones to be key in on. Once that is done, run each of the search terms and isolate where your site stands in the results. The idea is to be in the top 10 results. This may be harder to achieve, depending on the number of related sites in your industry, and how common your business name is.

Generally speaking if you site does not appear within the first two or three pages, then your site should be examined. Not many consumers have the patience to click through that many pages.

While running the test searches, examine which sites are appearing higher in the results. Are the in the same industry? Are they local or global? Small or large? Do they offer direct competition to your business?

When choosing your search terms, remember that other sites will be fighting for top ranking as well. Keep this competition in mind. You may find it useful to break the trest results of search terms into three categories and then target as such:

  1. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | Minimum Competition: Your results show your site low ranked, but the search term is highly relevant to your site, and there is not much in the way of relevant competition. Start here. Prioritize them and you will begin to see results quickly.
  2. Strong Search Term | Low Ranking | High Competition: Your appearance in the results is low, the search terms is highly relevant, yet the competition is as well. The high competition should be an indicator that this as a strong opportunity. However your competition is likely entrenched here and it could get expensive trying to punt them.
  3. Strong Search Term | High Ranking: Hurrah! Your site appears high in the results, the search term is relevant and you have clearly risen above any competition. Monitor these terms and ensure you stay on top.

Choosing relevant search terms, and prioritizing your targets should have resulted in at least three strong key words to concentrate on.

Make sure your website is Search Bot friendly. Image source: ezearn.info

3. Your Homepage Is To Contain A Textual Description That Includes 2 – 3 Of Your Top Key Words.

And so we begin melding the artistic and the technical. The content should stimulate the viewer, yet make easy climbing for the Search-Bot-Web-Crawlers.

Simply put: “If you want people searching for your key words to find you, then place the key words all over your site”

Think of your key words as little rock holds for the spidery Search Bots to grab hold of in their search. The more holds your site has, the more grip those little Search Bots will get on your site (that is a good thing).

Keep in mind that you do not want to cover your site in redundant textual info for the sake of the Search Bots as you then lose your Human Audience. It needs to be a careful blend of both worlds.

As you change and adjust your sites engineering and content, monitor the changes in your ranking.

4. Include A Page Or Blog Spot Dedicated To The Top Key Words.

This is a good idea for two reasons:

  1. If provides a natural text space to use your key words (again keep in mind not to overdo it, it needs to be readable).
  2. It provides an opportunity to show expertise and relevance in relation to your key words, and therefore your industry.

Rule of thumb write as if you had five minutes to explain to a friend or family member what it is you do.

5. Ask Colleagues, Industry Partners, Friends & Family To Post Content About You.

Search Engines view external links to a website as an endorsement of sorts. Like references on a Resume.

Asking external sources to post about your business AND include one of your key words within a direct link to your site, is known as a “Link Exchange”. While a useful SEO tool, many look at this as questionable when done in large quantities, or when exchanged with irrelevant sites or content (Ex. A Dental practice Link Exchanging with a Bulldozer rental site).

Mass Quantity Link Exchange Examined:

  • Some businesses and web developers will trade Link Exchange rights with other sites regardless of their content. For instance Herp.com may ask Derp.com to allow them to place a link on their site in exchange for the same privilege – even if the sites have nothing in common.
  • Others developers may go as far as to purchase the rights to share the links on other sites, or even set up a website directly aimed at nothing more than mass Link Exchanging.

There are a few schools of thought on this as an SEO strategy. Many Search Engines, like Google, do not like this type of thing – considering these types of Mass Link Exchange as misleading in relation to relevant content. These Search Engines are beginning to adapt their algorithms to give this sort of link sharing a pass.

Side Note: Google – the Search Engine with highest consumer use – has made it clear that they are geared towards search results based on relevant content, not SEO “cheats” like link exchanging to irrelevant outside sources. As such creating wide spread relevant content attached to your name is becoming important while mass link exchanging may be on the brink of extinction.

Make sure any link exchange you take part in, is relevant and provides relevant content to the reader. No misleading! That is a massive SEO party foul!

Mass Link Exchanging is frowned upon, however done legitimately, Link Exchanging is a great above-board practice for genuine websites with original content.

6. Back Link Your Website To Your  Social Media.

Relevant Content is the key to true SEO. Image source: Inboundwriter.com

I for one avoid Link Exchanging anyways. I prefer to develop my own content and utilize Social Media platforms for independent link sharing.

It is similar in nature and concept, to Link Exchange, in that it is positioning your link, attached to keywords, elsewhere on the web – yet different in that it is not on external source, but still on your own.

The Bonus here is that it is also CONTENT related, so it scores on two SEO levels and works within many Search Engine preferences for relevant content (it keeps the Google bots happy).

By developing a Social Media platform and link sharing your site, you are creating a larger “web presence” and more reason for Search Bots to find you and rank you.

The Search Engines will essentially crawl the content and trace it back to you. The more relevant content you have for them to crawl, the larger your presence and the higher your rank.

 

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.

We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists

13 Small Business Marketing & Sales Tips

Small Business is full of challenges, yet there are many tools and strategies available for success. Below we outline 13 tips to help the small businessman move from surviving to thriving.

13 Small Business Marketing & Sales Tips

Developing a business plan is a must for any small business.

1. Develop A Business Plan. This is absolutely key and not as difficult as you may think. A business plan can (and should) consist of a budget outline, current customer base, current marketing/advertising efforts, current strengths and weaknesses, target markets, areas of high potential and the methods/mediums available to reach targets and high potential areas.

Or more simply put. It should be made up of reasonable goals for your company, the ways available for achieving these goals, the resources available and then a final plan, and a scheduled outline for moving forward.

2. Make It A Long Term One. Every small business is constrained by the almighty budget.

Take some time to determine the areas of easiest and greatest potential gain. Isolate the best prospects for your business then determine how best to access them. Set your goals, make them achievable then proceed.

The key to achieving market goals is to remain consistent in your marketing. Find a plan that works with your resources, budget and availability then stick to it. If you are not certain how best to go about this, many tips and articles (such as the one you are reading) exist.

Or you can contact specialists who can sit down with you and hammer out the right – individualized – strategy for your specific business. You would be surprise how cost effective this can be.

3. Separating Sales & Profits. There are two types of money for the small businessman. Cash & Profits.

  • When you make a sale you make Cash.
  • When you make a sale at more than your overall cost, you make a Profit.

Typically speaking many small businesses have a primary focus on making sales and bringing in cash – a necessary and intelligent step if you wish to survive and maintain a roof over your head.

To move forward as a business however, cash must begin becoming profits. Profits allow businesses to not just exist but to grow. The small business man must analyze where the greatest profit potential lies and develop a plan of attack. These plans can take many forms, and are a necessity for success.

Business sourcing is increasingly shifting to online searches. Is your business visible online?

4. Free Online Listings. Working under the assumption that you already have a website (necessary!) Get yourself listed with Search Engines and get found.

It is said that 97% of consumers search for businesses online. I know that I do. With the advent of mobile technology, online searching has surged. If you are a small business online, increasing your presence is a must. If you are a small business not online – get online!

As Small Businesses we cannot afford to lose even one customer. Creating and then increasing an online presence ensures YOUR business is what turns up when customers are searching.

For things like Search Engine registration no technical expertise is needed. Here are a few good starting points:

  1. Google Business Listings
  2. Google Places
  3. Bing business portal
  4. Foursquare
  5. Yahoo Local
  6. Yelp Claim Your Business

5. Cold Calling Is Not Dead. So unless you are, hit the road. Make the sales calls, contact the prospects and be regimented in doing so. Again, set goals for yourself – three cold calls a day, eight in a week, whatever it is, stick to it.

Build a list of targets – who they are, what they do and why they should be interested in you. Treat it like a job interview, research your prospect and be ready to answer questions. Have at least three reasons they should look to you.

Start with high potential clients first then work your way down. Yes it may seem scary, however it gets easier with time – remember YOU have value for your customers and you know it, therefore YOUR goal is nothing more than to demonstrate that. Don’t focus on selling (it is cheesy) explain and relate – you will see higher success.

6. Keep Following Up. Do not be irritating – but keep your business in clear view of your customers. Remind consumers you are there. Do not barrage them, keep in mind however, that even if they want to purchase from you – they may not necessarily remember you. Stay visible. Follow up.

Survival: All of your marketing exposure, engagement, goodwill and efforts need to lead to one thing – making the sale. Remember that you want more than just the one sale – you want the customer for life.

7. Close The Deal. None of these tips matter if the deal doesn’t go through. Marketing in itself is a means to gain the sale. Yes it creates brand awareness and increases business to consumer visibility, however if it does not result in a sale your business won’t last long.

You need your customers to make the purchase. There are good and bad ways of going about this. Engaging them, building relations, and creating brand trust are all a part of this.

Provide your customers with a strong “call to action” in your Marketing. Provide incentives to solidify the deal sooner. Give them a reason to sign the dotted line.

Don’t be abrasive, but personally and directly ask to take the order and finalize the sale.

8. The Rule Of “Return & Refer”. The rule is simple: If you satisfy a customer, they will return to you and refer you to others. Gaining these two favours is a top priority for any business. Satisfy your customer, then look to them for the repeat business.

Never assume they will remember you years later, so make an impression at the start. Go the extra mile and win their loyalty.

9. Market To Prior Customers (Repeat Business). A solid part of any small business marketing strategy is targeting current and former customers. The first preliminary sale should be considered not the end, but the beginning of your business transaction with a consumer.

Good first impression notwithstanding, not all customers will remember a business name so “market to remind”. Repeat sales typically take less effort and resources to secure compared to going out and winning new accounts – this factors into turning cash into profits. A good portion of a businesses profits will come from these repeat customers.

Make sure your business is still visible to your customers from three years ago.

Image source: Followyourcustomer.com

10. Get A Contact Management System. Every small business needs an organized system for managing business contacts. With mobile and cloud technology it is becoming increasingly easy to setup an online system, accessible from just about anywhere.

You will never need to be without your little black book again. Consider a few of these options:

  1. MS Outlook Integrated System
  2. Salesforce.com
  3. Prophet (By Avidian)
  4. FollowYourCustomer.com

11. Shop Local, Shop Small. If every one of your customers suddenly began making their purchases at the big box stores or online, how would you feel?

That is how the small businesses in your community feel as well.

  • Support your local small business community and they will support you.
  • Build relations with other businesses and make your purchases locally whenever possible.
  • Avoid making the purchases online. Yes there are some deals that cannot be turned away, however small businesses cannot survive if all they are, are showrooms for online retail.

You reap what you sow. Want the community to support you business? Then support them first.

12. Use Social Media. First off Social Media is not going to directly make you profits. Social Media is, in itself, not the means to make the sale.

It is however:

  1. A primary means of increasing online presence.
  2. A direct TWO WAY line of communication with customers.
  3. A monitoring feed for following trends, communications and competitors.

Social Media is a free resource, but as with any Marketing avenue, should be approached with a plan.

  1. Who will post on behalf of your business?
  2. What will they post?
  3. How often will they post?
  4. Who are they targetting?
  5. Why are they targetting them?
  6. How are they to handle direct feedback and/or criticism?

It may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t that scary. Simply sit down and answer each of those questions in turn until the strategy is in place. We also recommend checking out a few of our previous posts on Social Media Marketing:

13. Create An Annual Newsletter Utilizing Cloud Services. We have mentioned newsletters before, however they bare repeating. They are a prime tool for budget friendly Marketing.

No a newsletter does not need to be boring. It is simply put “news”. Broadcast sales info, new products, customer stories… the options are endless – as are the sites that can facilitate this.

  1. Mail Chimp
  2. Constant Contact
  3. Vertical Response
  4. Emma

Now-a-days, by utilizing a cloud service you have access to built-in analytics – that is information on “opens” and “click-throughs” etc. Which is highly useful for monitoring your efforts and the results.

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds.

We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions.

TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists

Small Business: Why You Need To Be On Twitter

You Belong On Twitter.

Every small business does. It is a tool of engagement and brand development. It is the means to find and learn from your market targets and it is quickly becoming a linchpin to modern marketing.

Consider the following points in regards to Twitter:

1. Twitter shrinks the world. Your brand instantly becomes apparent to both, the customer down the street and across the globe. “Twitter is a place where one person can help another person anywhere in the world” – Dave Larson, @TweetSmarter

2. It is budget friendly, easy to learn and easier to use. Here are a couple of quick Twitter references you should know:

  • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less.
  • Retweet (RT): A reposting or sharing of someones else’s tweet.
  • @johndoe: The means by which you directly address another Twitter user within your tweet.
  • #Hashtag: Placing the hashtag (#) in front of any word or sentence turns it into a search reference for the Twitter search engine. It can also be used to accentuate the point behind your tweet.
  • “Via”: Source or author of the content being shared.
  • OH: Overheard. The means by which you share a rumour or story.
  • #FF: The Hashtag (search reference) for Follow Friday. The means by which you share people you follow with your followers, “paying it forward” if you will.

Bu utilizing simple tags like this, you literally have the world at your fingertips (whether they listen to you is another story).

3. It is here, it is now, it is real time. Ask a question, expect an answer. The power behind this as a market research tool is enormous. Not only do you have the tool to find your targets, you have the means to speak with them. If you doubt the power Twitter possesses to consolidate an effort – then consider the recent political uprisings that have begun to change the middle east.

4. There is no limit to what you can do with Twitter. Advertise, research, dialogue. build goodwill or address issues.

5.Twitter is a research tool – monitor competitors and other industry relevant parties to see what the latest buzz is from your consumers. This is a great way to see where your brand may be succeeding or failing, but it also works the same way for monitoring your competition.

5. You can spot trends and hop on board. You can spot fails and move out of the way. Twitter hosts communications on everything that is going in the world. You can monitor issues, big and small, relevant or not, and speak to them as you need to.

Twitter can act as a megaphone for your brand successes

6. It is flexible.The speed at which it moves, the nature of limited 140 character posts, and the speed on replies make Twitter the perfect medium to test the waters. Change message types and communications as needed based on real time feedback from sources that matter.

7. Twitter is a great way to spread goodwill. Position your brand on Twitter as an expert and proprietor of helpful industry tips and info. Be helpful and enrich others – the efforts are appreciated and can quickly build brand reputation.

8. Customer Service. Twitter efforts can play a huge role in partnering with your Customer Service and After Sales Service efforts. The speed with which you can address concerns, comments or questions is incredible. Use Twitter to address customer comments and build your brand at the same time (or use it to move them to a less “public” avenue such as email, in order to address more volatile concerns).

9. Immediate information spread. Why does this matter? If you have a sudden issue, crisis or concern – Twitter possesses the speed and wide range communication capabilities to get your message out asap.

10. Connecting. I have been thrilled time and again, with how useful Twitter is for searching out new and relevant contacts. By city, by industry, by name – no matter the parameters, I can seek out those I need to network with.

11. It builds your small business future. Your tweets are entirely public, they are being seen by not just your current customers, but potential ones as well. This positioning of your brand within the eyes of the consumer base, can translate into future sales.

12. Use Twitter as a megaphone for your successes. Don’t brag, but if you get a compliment, favorite, Re-tweet it, and/or reply to it. Doing so spreads the word that, “hey! someone thought you were pretty great!”

Going Viral: Twitter spreads information widely and quickly.

13. Build your brand. We have already addresses this briefly, but Twitter is an ideal medium for establish your brands philosophies, morals and standards within your consumer base. Use Twitter to reinforce your brand message, stay consistent and you will see positive brand growth.

14. Twitter provides a tool to humanize your brand. It is B2B and more. It is B2C (business to customer). You can dialogue directly with the people purchasing your products and services. You can avoid the cold corporate image and show your small business is human just like them.

All that being said, there are pros and cons to all things. Likewise their are correct ways to go about it. Some businesses and Social Media Specialists would purchase follows, but the best and most appropriate use of Twitter is to develop your audience through organic relationships – communicate, speak to them, ask questions and monitor results. Go to your customers and build your brand B2B and B2C.

If you do find yourself on Twitter – drop by and tweet “Hi” – @MarketingTMS

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

9 Twitter Tips For Small Business

Twitter provides a channel for brand communication with customers.

Twitter has become the primary platform for brand expansion and customer engagement. While tweeting is an excellent tool for promotion and dialogue, it in itself does not necessarily translate into leads, sales and traffic. A high volume of Twitter followers will not guarantee a high volume of sales.

To succeed with Social Media you need to do more than simply tweet. You need a strategy, you need to know your target audience and you need to measure, measure, measure (measurement provides the impetus to your forward movement). Above all else, however, you need to understand what Twitter is and why you are on it. Here are a few things to consider.

1. …Your Homework, Do it!

Twitter offers and unprecedented medium for dialogue with your customers. It offers insights, trends and direct communication channels with the people purchasing products and services. Use it to to garner Market Research. This market research will quickly multiply your success potential. Speak with your audience, search out your target market and begin the conversation. Ask the questions – what matters to them? what are they looking for? how do they feel about your brand? how do they feel about your competitors?

Twitter offers an enormous opportunity to accumulate the feedback necessary to build your brand.

2. Make A Plan.

Don’t dive into the deep end with your water wings! Every business, big, small, wide and tall needs a strategy. This strategy should address key concerns such as:

Have a plan before jumping into Social Media head first.

  • Who is handling your monitoring and communication?
  • What are they posting?
  • How often are they posting?
  • Who (market target) are you chasing and engaging?
  • What is your brand goal once you have followers?
  • What message do you need to communicate?
  • How do you communicate this?
  • What is your contingency for customer feedback?

For tips on sourcing a good specialist, or for what is required to succeed in Social Media we recommend checking out: TIPS TO FINDING A GOOD SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST and IS YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA OPERATOR QUALIFIED?

Before you roll out your tweets we recommend taking part in the Twitter community. Log on and follow some tweets, get a feel for what people in your industry are doing. Understand the general zeitgeist surrounding your target market

Think about what you plan on posting – is it relevant and interesting?  Be realistic about how often you can post, schedule less if you need to, in order to remain consistent. Social Media is all about consistency and creative content.

3. Make Your Brand Known.

Get out and spread the word. Pass along to clients, industry partners, and relevant contacts that your brand is on Twitter. They may not be on Twitter yet, and partnering with them in your efforts can often be beneficial.

Begin engaging others on Twitter. Follow relevant feeds (IE experts, competitors etc). Begin conversing with established brands. Create content that will position you as an expert in the minds of your audience. You want to develop credibility and build your reputation. The more of a presence you make the more people will take notice.

Remember that you want to remain consistent to your Brand message. Your Social Media efforts should never appear fractured from the rest of your business.

4. ENGAGE.

Small Business success hinges on relationships and customer service. It is not often that the small business can compete on price point alone. Success is almost always determined by the brand loyalty one develops through nurturing their customers.

This is seldom easy, however it is highly rewarding (and profitable). Despite its online nature, Social Media is a great platform for developing these relationships. It is all about engagement, communication and dialogue. If your Twitter feed is a monologue then you are doing it wrong.

Talk to your customers, seek them out and begin the conversation. Doing so shows integrity and can instantly earn appreciation. Customers want and need to feel that they matter, by going to them you are reinforcing this association with your brand.

5. Be Human.

Be human. Be Authentic. Be Honest. Be Real.

Remember in all of your engagement to be real, be honest and be human. Brands spend thousands of dollars annually, attempting to “humanize” themselves, to make themselves accessible to “Joe Consumer”.

Be human and authentic, create a friendly banter and enjoy a good conversation. Don’t take offense to their feedback, but use every opportunity provided to show your customers that you are a customer as well, and your brand understands.

This is one perk to being a small business. It often comes more naturally and requires less red tape.

6. Build A Following.

This is achieved through three key steps.

  • Build relevant and creative content. Give your audience a reason to want more.
  • Post on a consistent schedule. Maintaining an active presence is absolutely key to building and KEEPING a following.
  • Post a consistent message. Whatever your content, ensure that you maintain a consistent brand message and meet the expectations of your followers. If you are plastics manufacturer, do not suddenly post LOLCATZ. You can change things up every now and again to keep it interesting – but always keep it relevant.

Keeping an active presence will ensure you build and retain your following. The value here is three fold:

  • It allows for quicker spotting of unhappy customers – which you then will engage.
  • It allows for more thoroughly spread updates to your audience.
  • “Viral Spread” – The more people are talking about your brand, the more are people hearing about your brand. The bigger your following, the quicker your content will be shared en mass.

7. Know Your Lingo!

Make sure you know how and what to communicate on Twitter. Here is a quick beginners breakdown:

Know the lingo and make waves on Twitter.

  • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less.
  • Retweet (RT): A reposting or sharing of someones else’s tweet.
  • @johndoe: The means by which you directly address another Twitter user within your tweet.
  • #Hashtag: Placing the hashtag (#) in front of any word or sentence turns it into a search reference for the Twitter search engine. It can also be used to accentuate the point behind your tweet.
  • “Via”: Source or author of the content being shared.
  • OH: Overheard. The means by which you share a rumour or story.
  • #FF: The Hashtag (search reference) for Follow Friday. The means by which you share people you follow with your followers, “paying it forward” if you will.

8. SEO.

Search Engine Optimization is fairly easy to utilize on Twitter. First of all make a list of industry relevant key words. Implement them into your Twitter handle, your profile description and as often as possibly into your tweets. This will ensure that these key words are being associated by search engines, with your Twitter efforts (Further Info Here:)

9. Measure, Measure, Measure.

Hurrah! You have begun tweeting, you have followers! What does that mean? How do you measure the value? There are a number of tools to helop you do this. Consider Social media tools likeTweetdeck and Hootsuite. Both are easy to learn, easy to use, and can be downloaded free (Hootsuite also has a paid service).

You may also want to investigate Klout.com which can link into all of your Social Media efforts and using a series of algorithms and measurements, provide you with an “influence” score between 1 and 100.

Summary.

Small business owners face many challenges, the world of Social Media has, in effect, provided us with a wide array of tools – free tools – to engage and build our brand. By utilizing platforms like Twitter small business owners can engage and develop their client base.

Use Twitter to build your brands association with expertise and service. Dialogue with your customers one on one and as a group. Broadcast your small business and brand and you will not be disappointed.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

20 MORE Tips For Pinterest

Our last post provided 20 easy tips for getting the most out of Pinterest. We enjoyed the tips so much, we added MORE!

Pin Your Way To Success (Part 2)

  1. Commandeer the Pinterest Search function in the top left hand corner to find new images to pin/repin/like.
  2. When describing your pins, operate on the same primary basis as SEO and enter key words that will matter to those searching on Pinterest.
  3. Include a “Pin-It” Option in your blog posts, emails and web content to ensure easy sharing by your viewers. “Adding To Email” Walk Through Here:
  4. Got a WordPress site? Feature your recent pins in a widget in your WordPress sidebar by using a Pinterest widget.
  5. Encourage contribution to your boards via staff and customers. This will build engagement and grow your profile.
  6. Check out your followers and keep tabs on which of your pins are being shared. Stay on top of trends, then supply more of the same and adjust other content to make it more “re-pinnable”.
  7. Price your Pin’s to create your own little Pinterest shop. Simply add the $ or £ symbol and then the price. This price will then be neatly displayed across the top corner of your pin.  Adding prices to your pins, may mean they will be featured in Pinterest’s “Gifts” section and offers a heads up for viewers who may want to purchase products from the links you are displaying.
  8. Share a board that tells your businesses story – a synopsis of your company if you will. A timeline and a snapshot. Share who you are, what you are, what you do and your market philosophy.
  9. Your boards are only limited by your creativity. Create a board of thank-you’s or to share in client successes. Create one to display new projects you have completed with your customers and another to showcase your staff. The sky, as they say, is the limit.
  10. Pin tips, tricks, FAQ’s and tutorials for your products, services etc.
  11. Clicking the “Popular” link on your Pinterest home page allows you to view what is trending. You can then use that to re-direct your efforts and hop on board the “trend-train”
  12. You want to remain consistent to your brand image and message, however remember to keep it fresh and fun. Pinterest is all about creativity, use that to your benefit.
  13. Be the source for up to date information relevant to you industry. In other words, create boards and populate them with the newest and most relevant content available.
  14. Link up your Pinterest and Facebook Timeline accounts to ensure your updates on Pinterest blast over to Facebook as well.
  15. Take a look at any archived and existing content you have. Add photos and images into the content where necessary to encourage and facilitate pretty pinning.
  16. Go beyond just checking stats and trends for content. Monitor the best times for pinning, check the site traffic stats and adjust to accommodate.
  17. With the explosion of users on Pinterest, companies are searching for the best means of utilizing it.

    Social Media is all about engagement. Connect not just yourself, but your clients, customers and followers with each other.

  18. Confident in the feedback you are getting from customers? Create a board geared at client testimonials.
  19. Create boards to showcase events, conferences and trades shows that you have attended. It will breed goodwill, community and associate your brand with expertise.
  20. Use boards to host and share coupons and deals. We suggest creating the pins specifically for these boards to capitalize on Pinterests beautiful display. You can also utilize the “price” addition (tip 7) within these coupons.

Three Bonus Tips!

  1. As is often the case with Facebook, create Pinterest only promotions to increase awareness and engagement.
  2. Host contests. Invite viewers to post the best pins relevant to your product, content or services and award prizes.
  3. Create boards to showcase your clients. Spread the love and pass the goodwill, they may just share the favor!

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.