Google and Facebook Keep Changing Their Rules! Three ‘Ins and Outs’ of Using Free Social Media Tools.
June 01, 2012
Should you jump into social media without a marketing strategy?
By Maureen McCabe
As a business owner you likely are using – or – are curious about the business value of social media tools such as Facebook, Google Plus, Google Places, Google+ Business Pages, or Pinterest. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t aware of some of these properties – it’s hard to keep up with all of them and let alone their constant changes.
This educational blog is designed for business owners to understand the ‘ins and outs’ of social media – before you leap into using the so-called ‘easy and free tools’. Tips to help you determine if social media is right for your business and what you can do to be more easily ‘found’.
Google provides tools to help business owners reach more local customers. A great way to promote your business and obtain customer reviews or testimonials is to use Google Places which is transitioning to Google+ Business Pages. They are also referred to as Google Plus or Plus Box Pages. Confused? Don’t worry – welcome to social media!
1. Be knowledgeable before your jump
It’s a fallacy to think that the Facebook and Google tools are simple or truly free – your time is worth money. As well, by using them you will not automatically obtain more visibility and attract a flood of customers.
Each social media tool takes time to set up – anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. You must keep the information current, be prepared for the unexpected (changes by them), monitor your listing, and promote these sites to drive a stream of prospects. I will write a blog about how your small business can increase its social media footprint and obtain backlinks to your website.
Facebook is a great way to connect with your customers and prospective customers. The first challenge is how to build your fan base or ‘likes’. The second is critical because to generate more revenue you need an online strategy to keep them coming back. Did you know that over 91% of people who ‘like’ a page – never visit again?
Do not think these free tools are as simple as the TV infomercials for Ronco’s kitchen products – “set it and forget it.” We both know that neither social media nor Ronco’s rotisserie oven are effortless. The bottom line – is it worth the effort to set up these tools without a marketing strategy and long term online plan?
2. Be consistent online
Ensure that your business name and contact information such as your address, phone, and email are identical across all sites. Why? You do not want to make it difficult for Google to index your business. For example if your address is Unit 8, 123 Main Street on your website, do not use other formats such as Suite 8-Main Street or 123 Main St, 8 etc. To quote my Mom – you are not helping the cause and Google will not be pleased.
The same tip applies to your email address – use the same one on your website and for all of the social media profiles you create. It will be easier for Google to index your site – for people to find you. I use email@example.com everywhere online. I have a personal email address for all client communications which is used on my business cards. This works well for me.
TIP: To minimize spam and hackers avoid using obvious email addresses such as support@, info@, sales@, or inquiries@.
3. Get help.
You are busy running your business and like me, you aren’t a master of all the free media tools – nor do you want to be. The following are three options.
- Hire someone or an agency for hundreds a dollars each month to set up and monitor your presence. Usually the lowest monthly package starts at $500.
- Buy services or consulting expertise when required.
- Try the do-it-yourself approach and monitor numerous blogs, and the Google and Facebook sites for updates.
NOTE: I am a marketing consultant or as my clients call me, their Small Business Marketing Specialist. I am not an SEO expert. My clients rely on me for help, expect me to be aware of the latest changes, and how it impacts them. If I don’t have the answer I will obtain it through my network including my social media coach.
Don’t jump on the bandwagon because ‘everyone’ is doing social media. Remember, you are not alone. Ask other business owners the value they are experiencing – and – what would they do differently.
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