Sep
16
Posted on September 16, 2009
Filed Under (General Business, Social Media) by jennifer

If you or someone you know owns or manages a small or mid-sized (or even larger) business, my latest article — http://bit.ly/Ax4iZ — titled “How to Manage Your Business’s Online Reputation” (published on SmallBusinessComputing.com) is MUST reading.

The article features tips and advice from several social media-savvy small business owners, as well as great advice from a social media guru who works with small businesses.

Highlights include:

* tips on how much time you should be spending on Twitter, Facebook and social media in general

* who should be monitoring your business’s online reputation

* why it’s important to know what customers are saying about you

* how, when and where to respond when someone says something positive or negative about your business

* how monitoring your business’s online reputation can translate into sales

PLUS there are my

Top Ten Tips for Creating a Positive Impression with Social Media

  • Get to know your customers. Find out which sites your customers frequent and join the conversation. And don’t limit yourself to Facebook and Twitter. If you are in the retail business, look at sites like Yelp. Similarly, if you are in the hospitality business, monitor and respond to comments on TripAdvisor.
  • Sign up for Google Alerts. By subscribing to searches for our company name, we receive daily e-mails with links to pages containing our name, said Fernandez. We’ve been surprised with how rapidly we are informed about a mention of our company name – often within hours of the posting.
  • Watch and learn. I sat and watched Twitter for a couple of weeks before I ever started interacting, explained Seaman. Once I was comfortable there, I found a way to start automatically sending updates from the blog as well as my own conversations. The same with Facebook.
  • Listen. Know what people are saying about you, your competitors, and your industry, said McFeeley.
  • Establish yourself as an expert. Every Thursday Ruby Jane’s Thomas tweets about the show Project Runway, where designers are given 24 hours to create an amazing outfit. Every Friday I post my review of the show on my blog. Project Runway is always a trending topic on Twitter on Thursday nights, which means my tweets often turn up on Twitter’s home page. Similarly, Project Runway is always a top search term on Friday mornings, which means that my blog post will turn up in search results. This season two of the contestants are from my area, which means I can also submit press releases to local media about my ongoing coverage of the two local contestants.
  • Be disciplined about posting. Social media can be quite addictive, noted McFeeley. You need to be disciplined about your time on sites and the content you post. Most experts agree that you should post only once or twice a day and keep posts brief and to the point, including links if relevant.
  • Give. If you have a helpful hint, share it. If you see something interesting [such as an article], pass it on, advised McFeeley. Thomas, for example, is currently Facebooking, tweeting, and blogging about Halloween costume and decorating ideas.
  • Don’t always make it about you. Don’t use your social networking strictly for promotion, advised Thomas. Use it to inform and educate. Of course I tell my Facebook fans about sales or new products, but I also link to free patterns, tutorials, craft industry news, start discussions and hold contests. Added Fernandez, If all your posts are pushing your product, you run the risk of being seen as a Facebook/Twitter ‘spammer,’ and you will be ignored.
  • Say thank you. Send an e-mail or post a response when someone says something nice about you. If a customer leaves an especially nice comment or testimonial, send a card, via snail mail, said McFeeley. Appreciation marketing is a growing trend. Be an early adopter.
  • Know who is minding the store. If you have employees posting to Facebook and/or Twitter, make sure you have written policies about who is authorized to do what and if certain things are prohibited.

For more great tips and advice, read the article, “How to Manage Your Business’s Online Reputation.”

Wishing you continued success…

(0) Comments    Read More   

As I have learned from years of writing about small businesses and entrepreneurs, being successful more often than not has less to do with how good you (or your products and/or services) are and everything to do with how good you are at marketing your business (and your products and services).

True, being good at what you do is important to being successful, but if no one knows about you or your company or your products or services, it doesn’t matter. You will eventually fail.

The good news: Marketing your business has never been easier or cheaper.

And following are seven easy-to-do marketing strategies that are both highly effective and inexpensive.

* Use social social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter* and blogs. (To learn more about how to use social networking to successfully market you business, read this.)

* Comment on other people’s sites/blogs, providing helpful and/or expert advice about specific topics, including links to useful articles (and your own site, if appropriate).

* Become a source on Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a fantastic site and resource that links small (and larger) business owners (like you) to thousands of journalists/reporters (like me).

* Interact with your customers (both existing ones and potential ones) on both your website (or blog) and on sites they frequent, offering them incentives (such as discounts or free or low-cost shipping) to buy your products and/or services and make sure to promptly respond to all questions and queries.

* Don’t forget about “old-fashioned” networking, that is getting in front of (face time with) people who could be helpful to or interested in your business or products or services.

* Attend industry and Chamber of Commerce events. If you can’t afford or don’t want to get a booth, just attend as a visitor — and be sure to bring a stack of business cards, a big smile, free samples of your product (if possible), and a kick-ass 30-second elevator pitch.

* Enlist friends, family members, and former colleagues to be your goodwill ambassadors and spread the word about your business, products, and services. As an added incentive, offer them a discount or something inexpensive (to you) yet of value (to them) for bringing in new leads and customers.

Having an attractive, user-friendly website, which both customers and search engines can easily find, is also critical — and freshening up your website needn’t cost thousands of dollars. (Click here for information about inexpensive yet highly effective web design and site facelifts.)

For more great tips on how to market your business effectively yet inexpensively online and off, check out these four articles:

5 Easy Ways to Market Yourself Online

Social Network Marketing Meets Small Business

How to Market Yourself Online

10 Low-Cost Ways to Market Your Business

I also recommend the following websites, which are aimed specifically at entrepreneurs and small business owners and provide excellent advice, tools, and tips about marketing your business and many other important small business-related subjects:

Small Business Computing

E-Commerce Guide

Jason Baer’s Convince&Convert

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s blog, which has a good section on marketing called Marketing Like Mad

Inc.

Have your own great small business marketing tip or resource? Leave me a comment.

*You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JenniferLSchiff

(1) Comment    Read More