Why Do I Need Social Media for My Business?Fifteen years ago when a business wanted to market their products or service to an audience, the most viable options were print marketing or television and radio advertising. Websites were slowly making their way into mainstream for business, and people were hesitantly boarding the internet train one-by-one. Fast forward to 2017 and the ways in which businesses can market to their customers have changed tremendously!

Websites for businesses are now more than mainstream, they’ve become a necessity. Millions of customers use search engines to find everything they need to know about a business before even making a purchase. Videos are the new shiny attention-getters, and anyone who is anyone has a Twitter or Facebook account to keep up with their friends, acquaintances, and loved ones.

With all of these rapidly-made advancements in technology, this has opened a door not only for internet users and individuals to entertain and educate themselves, but also for businesses to enter the market of online advertising and keep their business in the forefront of their customers’ minds. This is only one reason why a business should be on social media in today’s digital marketing world.

1. Target Your Customer Audience
Social media gives you the opportunity to target your target audience directly via several different networking channels. The social media network(s) that you choose to use will be determined by your customer audience.

For example, if your primary target market is teens and young adults ages 15-30, Instagram would be a great social media platform to communicate your value as a business. It is highly visual, includes video capabilities, and has produced great return on investment figures from customer contests.

According to Actionable Marketing Guide, 71% of the world’s internet users are on Facebook, which amounts to an astoundingly large potential audience for your profile. Businesses can expect great rewards from posting frequently and including a variety of content on their page, including videos, images, and links.

Twitter is largely used for mass marketing tactics that include articles, images, links, and the ever-popular hashtag. Teens and young adults are heavily consuming the market of Twitter, however, some older adults can also be found on this platform. Having a 140 character limit per tweet keeps a business’s posts short, sweet, and to the point for their consumer.

If you’re interested in targeting women ages 18-49, Pinterest is the social media network for you, as 41% of women on the internet frequent this site. It’s popular for do-it-yourself crafts and projects, however, businesses are seeing great results from posting their products, services, ideas, and other items on Pinterest to pull that market into their business. In fact, Pinterest is the second largest referrer of social media traffic for businesses!

LinkedIn is a highly professional and business-oriented social media. I like to say it’s Facebook with a suit on. Business-to-business companies should certainly be on this platform to build brand awareness, gain sales leads, and connect with potential partners and opportunities. Having a company page and posting unique, valuable content to that page regularly is what separates your business from the competition.

Finally, Google+ is a social network that gets an unpopular reputation of only being used by Google employees. This couldn’t be more false. Google+ is a network that if used in conjunction with a Google My Business page can result in instant gratification for your customers and increase search engine optimization for your website and your business.

2. Turn “Likes/Followers” into Customers
The biggest challenge business owners face once acquiring social media platforms is using them! The key to increasing your customers online is interacting with them via posts that can include images, links, videos, articles, and text. The more frequent you post, the better. Customers want to have a reason to interact with a business, and many companies use videos, customer testimonials, contests, and discounts to pull customers from their social media profiles to their websites and/or storefronts.

3. Broadcast Brand Awareness
One of the most common reasons a business might be on social media is to establish and spread awareness for their brand. In today’s ages of technology, having a Facebook or a Twitter account for your business shows that you’re a “real” business that is advancing just as quickly as the technology with which you are keeping up. It’s the equivalency of having a logo or a business card for your business. Customers view your profiles and then judge your business and your brand based on the type of content, frequency with which you post, and the amount of opportunities for value that you offer your customers on your profiles, whether this be articles, discounts, contests, videos, etc.

The important thing to remember about brand awareness is that your profile needs to look as professional and aesthetically pleasing as it can be; this includes having your logo as a profile picture, choosing an attention-getting cover photo, and your business information being complete and accurate in your profile.

There are so many ways social media can help improve the marketing of your business. This article is just the tip of the iceberg of social media marketing methods. Stay tuned for more articles in the future where I discuss each social media separately and give you new and creative ideas to take your business to the next level with social media!

With creativity rising and customers’ attention being captured by anything new and shiny, blogs are the new website. Why is this you ask? I’m glad you did, because the answer can be found in this article!

Let’s start at the beginning. Most people visit a business’s website to get some form of value, whether that be contact info, product pricing, news or events, or other general types of content. When most websites feature the same generic value, how does a business compete with its competitors to capture the attention of its target audience?

This is where a blog comes in. I’m sure most people view a blog as a forum-like webpage where an individual shares their long – and often drawn out – opinions on a particular subject, and people then respond to that article with discussion. That is still valid today, and in fact, a lot of influential people in the world have blogs where they share their knowledge with online viewers. Take Michael Hyatt, for instance.

What’s different about blogs today, however, is the fact that businesses have seen the advantages of utilizing this tool and are working to generate and engage an audience like the “professional bloggers” have steadily acquired throughout the years.

Enter the headline of this article. There are SO many reasons a blog would benefit your business, but I’ve narrowed it down to 5 enticing pieces of blogging pie. It you’re a picky eater, blogging may not be your style or in your capacity, but if you give the blogging world a chance and open your palate to the possibilities of what growing an audience like this can do for your business, I promise you won’t regret it.

1: Blogs provide new and interesting content for your customers.

As previously stated, companies have to compete to provide their customers with new and intriguing content to keep them interested. If a customer becomes interested in your blog and begins to follow it regularly, you’ve gained an instant long-term customer! They view your blog posts as free value, even if you only see them as words on a screen! Might I also add, these posts are not limited to words. Photos, videos, and links are great ways to gain followers’ interest and ensure that they come back for more from your blog!

2: They drive social media & emails to your website.

Social media and email marketing campaigns are great ways to market any website. Including links to your blog posts on social media, e-blasts, and e-newsletters spreads the word about your blog and entices your followers to then visit your website. Conversion from “follower” to “customer” is one step closer when the viewer visits your website. The key to keeping them there is interesting content like a blog. And that’s how blogging benefits come full circle!

3: Google (and other search engines) LOVE them.

When Google views your website pages, it looks for new content it can read. Once your website is reviewed, Google ranks and places it in search engine results that fit the content’s description. Google will not go back to your website unless it detects NEW content. This is why a blog is so important. The more new and interesting information (i.e. text, images, links, etc.) you have on your website (related to your business and/or industry, of course), the more times Google will review your website and rank (to a more specific degree) your webpages for their search results.

4: The only cost is your time. (If you already have a website)

If you already have a website, all you have to do is add a blogging page to your website and begin posting! This blogging page should be included in your web hosting package, essentially making running a blog free to you. The only cost is your time! (Which as a small business owner, I know is hard to come by. I have tips to help with that! *See contact information below.)

If you do not already have a website and would like to have a blog, there are free online blog platforms, such as wordpress.com, that have easy-to-use templates available to set up your website and blog in no time. Using this program is free unless you want to use your own domain name (you should definitely want to!). In that case, you can have a search engine optimized blog for as little as $120 per year!

5: This is the place to put those keywords your web developer keeps talking about.

Blogs are a great way to not only make sure Google sees your website (Reason #3), but also to make sure Google sees those ever-important keywords that every web developer and consultant tells you are important. Using keywords specific to your type of business in your blog posts is a great way to make sure your business’s website show up in searches. The key to great keywords is using words in your blog that people would type into Google’s search engine to find you!

When your customers search for a business online, where do they search?

If you answered, Google, you’re correct! 10 points to you for not living under a rock! Okay, so you know Google is important and you need to be on it. Objective one of this post is complete!

Now I know you’re saying, “That’s great and all, Lyndsey, but HOW do I get on Google?” That brings me to my second objective. I could give you several answers to this question: create a website that is search engine optimized (SEO); create social media profiles and get active; start a blog and contribute to the information sector of your industry; etc.

But the quickest and – in this day and age – most effective way to show up in Google searches is through a tool called Google My Business. And that, my friend, is what this post is REALLY about.

Google My Business is a tool that allows your business to create a profile on Google’s search engine and be searchable by keywords and geographic regions that you specify. This profile allows you to include the following key pieces of information to bring customers from the search engine to your physical or online store:

  • Business name
  • Physical address
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Website URL
  • Description
  • Pricing (noted by dollar signs $-$$$)
  • Customer reviews
  • Photos and YouTube videos

Your profile works best when completed in its entirety and consistently updated with status updates, images, and videos to engage your search engine audience. The coolest part of Google My Business is the behind-the-scenes look into how your customers are interacting with your profile. When a customer clicks on your website, directions, phone number, or interacts with your profile in any way, Google keeps track of that and shows you those stats on your Insights page. This feature is so analytical that it can tell you where your customers are located when they click the directions button! This is a great way to know where your customers are coming from and to adjust your local marketing campaigns to fit areas that are lacking in customers.

Google My Business is something that every business needs, and I’ll give you three reasons why:

  1. Google ROCKS! Google is the one of the biggest and most well-known search engines in the world, and if your business is on it that tremendously increases your chances of being found by your customers. And customers = sales = a successful business. I may be a design person by nature, but I know that math doesn’t lie!
  2. It’s FREE. Yes, you heard me right. You will not pay a penny to set up this account or keep it going. Your only investment in Google My Business is your time, and believe me – it’s worth it. It really is. (Plus it saves you money for that success equation I mentioned earlier.)
  3. I can help you set up your account! As the New Media Marketing Specialist for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, I help businesses everyday by guiding them through the process of setting up their Google My Business account and making sure their profile gets found by Google. That’s not even the best part. This service is completely free to you as an Oklahoma business owner!