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    No BS Social Media: Expert Interview with Jason Falls

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Be human. Join the conversation. Engage your consumers. Provide value. In the world of social media, these phrases are used all the time. But it’s time to call “BS” on generic social media speak when it comes to marketing your local business, according to Jason Falls, author of the new book No BS Social Media.

    Falls points out that it’s important to be human, engage with consumers, and join the conversation – these are best practices in the industry. But, it’s also important to go a step further than these statements to get the most out of social media marketing,.

    “If you add the word ‘marketing’ to the phrase ‘social media,’ you’re talking about business,” Jason says. That’s why you must incorporate a business mindset into your social media plan.

    In his book, he identifies the seven business drivers of social media marketing – different reasons why you could choose to use social media for your business:

    1. Enhancing branding and awareness
    2. Protecting your reputation
    3. Extending your public relations
    4. Building community of followers and loyal advocates
    5. Extending your customer service
    6. Facilitating research and development
    7. Driving sales

    Of these potential business drivers, it’s important to decide which of these to pursue, says Falls, so you can approach social media strategically to drive the business results you want to achieve.

    Watch our interview with Jason to learn more and hear a case study of how one local business used social media to increase sales.

    Enjoy This?
    Follow Jason on Twitter at @jasonfalls, check out his blog Social Media Explorer, and learn more about the book No BS Social Media.

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    About the Author
    As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reputation management, social media marketing, and building your business web presence. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

    5 Tips for Connecting with Local Shoppers this Holiday Season

    Last updated 2 years ago

    The holiday shopping season is upon us! This year, it all kicks off with a big weekend, starting with a holiday shopping day most of us are familiar with: Black Friday. But did you know that this year, millions of consumers have pledged to shop local in support of Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday? This effort is raising awareness about the importance of shopping local and supporting local businesses – a cause near and dear to our hearts here at ReachLocal. To make the most of Small Business Saturday, here are five tips to help your local business connect with local shoppers this holiday season and keep the “shop local” momentum going strong.  

    1) Make Your Gift-Giving Opportunities Obvious
    Local shoppers may or may not already think of your business as the first stop for holiday gifts. So, take some time to brainstorm seasonal promotions and gift-giving ideas specific to your local business so you can share them online and with your customers. For example, services companies might market gift certificates or bundled service packages, while spas might highlight personal pampering specials along with seasonal gift baskets.

    2) Optimize Your Local Listings
    As the holiday shopping season begins, it’s important to make sure your business has a claimed and optimized Google Places Page that focuses on your core product and services keywords. That way, local shoppers who are looking for specific products or services from local companies can easily discover your business. Learn how to optimize your Google Places page to get started.

    3) Build Your Mobile Web Presence
    Did you know that over 87% of Smartphone owners use the Internet on their phones? Plus, 25% of Smartphone owners use their phones as their primary device for accessing the Internet! That’s just one reason it’s so important to have a mobile optimized site and web presence for your business. So, this holiday, make sure that local shoppers can find your business directly from their mobile devices so they don’t miss your business while they are out and about looking for local businesses to buy from. 

    4) Share Unique Holiday Offers with Fans and Followers
    The holidays are a great time to share special offers for your fans and followers on social networks. Not only can this remind your current fanbase about your local business and what you have to offer for holiday shoppers, it’s also a way to encourage them to share your specials with their own friends, family, and social connections.

    5) Get Customers Involved with Giving Back
    For many local businesses, the holidays are an important time to get involved in giving back to your local community.  It’s also a great time to share with your customers the opportunity to give back in support of your community. For example, you could host a food drive or charity event at your business, or sponsor a local outreach program on behalf of top clients as your holiday appreciation gift to them. Finding unique ways to give back to your local community – and to get your customers involved – is a great way to connect with local shoppers and remind them why supporting local business is so important.

    These are just five tips for connecting with local shoppers this holiday season. What ideas have you used in the past or are planning this year? Share your thoughts in a comment, and happy holidays!

    About the Author
    As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reputation management, social media marketing, and building your business web presence. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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    7 Reputation Management Tips for Local Business

    Last updated 2 years ago

    When it comes to online reputation management for your local business, there’s a lot to consider. But, it’s important for any local business to monitor and manage what’s being said about them online. So, we put together this list of seven tips for managing your reputation, along with resources you can use to learn more about each area!

    1) Stop Negative Reviews Before they Get Posted Online
    Reputation management starts with providing a great customer experience. But, even the best businesses will have to deal with a frustrated or angry customer at some point. So, in an age when anyone can easily post a negative review or complaint about your business at any time, from the convenience of their smartphone, it’s crucial to make sure that you – and your staff – know how to deal with an angry customer directly in order to nip a negative review in the bud.
    Learn More: Nipping a Negative Review in the Bud: How to Deal with an Angry Customer

    2) Start with the Reputation Management Basics
    Unfortunately, people post unflattering things about local businesses all across the web, whether from their personal social media profiles or on formal review sites like Yelp. But, the good news is, people also say great things about local businesses in all these places as well. Do you know if what’s being said about you is positive or negative? By understanding the basics of reputation management – like monitoring your business keywords online – you can get a grasp on what your business reputation looks like and start to make steps to improve the negative and share the positive.
    Learn More: 6 Reputation Management Basics to Master

    3) Ask Happy Customers for Reviews
    One of the simplest but most often overlooked elements of reputation management is to ask your happy customers to leave reviews of your business online! Train your employees to ask for reviews, and include signage in your store, or create easy to hand out cards that list your review sites to serve as a reminder to your customers that you appreciate their feedback online.
    Learn More: The Simple Secret to Getting More Online Reviews

    4) Claim Your Local Listings Like Google Places
    Another important step in reputation management is to claim your local business listings. Not only does this potentially give your business more visibility in search engines, it also helps you keep tabs on what consumers are posting about you online and gives you a formal place to direct happy customers to leave reviews.
    Learn More: 4 Compelling Reasons Every SMB Should Claim their Local Listings
    Learn More:
    HOW TO: Set Up & Optimize a Google Places Page for Your Local Business

    5) Know How to Respond to Negative Reviews 
    Knowing how to handle and respond to negative reviews when they are posted about your business online can be a powerful reputation management tactic. It’s important to understand how to handle these situations professionally, because responding in a negative, defensive, or uninformed way can cause more harm than good. So, learn the ins and outs of responding to negative reviews online.
    Learn More: How To Respond to Negative Online Reviews

    6) Understand How to Respond to Negative Mentions on Social Sites
    Your reputation online is more than simply the reviews posted about your business formally. When you’re properly monitoring your business keywords and mentions online, you may run across a negative mention on a social site as well. Because each site is different, responding to these types of negative messages differs somewhat from replying to negative reviews. So, learn the ins and outs of responding to negative mentions on sites like Twitter.
    Learn More: How To Respond to a Negative Twitter Reply or Complaint 

    7) Learn How to Approach Fake Online Complaints 
    Since many review sites allow anonymous reviews, not all reputation management issues your business may face necessarily stem from actual customers. How can you tell if a review is fake or not? Learn more about fake complaints and what you can do to address them.
    Learn More: Fake Complaints Hurting Your Business? Try These Tips

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    About the Author
    As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reputation management, social media marketing, and building your business web presence. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

     

     

    HOW TO: Share Engaging Content on Google Plus

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Have you heard the word? Google Plus pages are now open for businesses! Once you have set up and optimized your business Page, you can start sharing content. To make sure that account holders who circle your business see content you share in their account newsfeed, make sure your business is circling back anyone who adds you. Then, use these tips to get started sharing!

    Update Regularly. You’ll want to post public posts frequently to make sure your page looks fresh and relevant. Aim for at least 1-2 times per week, or up to 3-4 times per day, depending on how much time you want to devote to the site.

    Be Uniquely Engaging. Just as with Twitter and Facebook, you want to post interesting, engaging content to Google Plus. But, don’t just post the same content that you do on other social outposts. Mix it up and keep your content on Google Plus as unique as possible to give current fans and followers a good reason to add and engage with your business on this social site in addition to Twitter and Facebook.

    Share External Content and Commentary. Google Plus is a great place to share links to blog posts and articles– from your business and from other sources about your industry, community, or niche in general. Whatever you post, make sure to include a short comment or thought along with the content to make your posts engaging.

    Create Unique Native Content. Google Plus allows more long-form content than many social media sites, so consider posting some unique native content to the site to see how it performs in addition to sharing links to external posts. For example, you could share tips or expert opinions, much like you would on a business blog post.

    Reshare Other Users’ Content. On Google Plus, re-sharing content from other users directly is a great way to engage with those users and to find new posts, tips, and ideas. So, re-share content that you see posted that would be relevant to your followers. Make sure to add a comment with your share, and tag the original sharer using the +Username convention in the share box.

    Post Links to Online Offers. Google Plus doesn’t allow businesses to host contests or promotions directly on the site. But you can share links to special offers for your business that are hosted elsewhere online. This is a great way to encourage people to spread the word about your online specials, because people can re-share your public posts with their own. But, make sure you are aware of Google Plus’ guidelines on contests and promotions.

    Post Publicly. To get the most out of your Google Plus activity in search engines, you’ll want to post publicly, because public posts on Google Plus can be indexed on Google’s search engine. Posting publicly will also ensure that content shows up on your Page for any new users who visit your page. To do this, simply select “Public” as the option for whom to share your content with whenever you post.

    Share Selectively. Don’t forget, you can share content specifically with circles you have created. This is great for sharing specific content that you don’t want to show up on your public page. For example, creating a circle for VIPs or special customers gives you an easy way to share unique content and engage your most loyal advocates and brand ambassadors.

    Lock Content If Necessary. Be aware that if you share content within specific circles that you don’t want those users to share with their own circles, you need to lock that content from being reshared. You have to do this after a post has been shared by navigating to the post itself, clicking the upper right hand arrow, and then clicking “Lock this Post.” There, you also have the ability to edit a post, disable comments, or unlock a post if you want people to be able to reshare it.

    Tag Strategically. Did you know that when you list an individual user or business page in the share box on Google Plus (whether or not you are sharing the post publicly or with a circle,) it will send that user a notification that your account has shared a post directly with them? Use this function strategically on specific posts that you want to alert users about. For example, you could tag someone who had commented or engaged on similar content, or tag employee or a local business leader who would benefit from seeing the post. Make sure to use this tactic wisely, and avoid spamming users with tag notifications, because they could block your post or profile if you annoy them with frequent or abusive tagging. But, used wisely, this tip can help you increase +1s and shares on your Google Plus posts.

    Use Hashtags Intentionally. Recently, Google Plus announced that the site supports hashtags, which when clicked will take users to a search for that keyword on Google Plus, as well as other content tagged with that hashtag. So, find, use, and even create hashtags to help your content spread. For example, you could create a location-specific hashtag to promote other local businesses or community activities on GooglePlus.

    Involve Your Fans. What do your Google Plus followers want to hear from your brand on Google Plus? Try asking them! Since business Pages are brand new, now is a great time to get involved with your fanbase and ask your community what they want to hear from your brand. Also, find ways to recognize and work with your Google Plus followers. For example, you could re-share content that your followers have shared on Google Plus.

    Is your business on Google Plus? How are you using the site to connect with consumers, your community, or other local businesses on line? Share your thoughts in a comment! Don't forget to check out how to set up a business Page on Google Plus. And, make sure to circle ReachCast on Google+ to stay up to date with us!

    More About Google Plus

    About the Author
    As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

    How to Set Up & Optimize Google Plus Local Business Pages

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Google Plus officially launched business Pages this week, after several months of offering only personal Profiles on the social platform. Want to create and optimize a Google Plus Page for your local business? Here’s what you need to know, including the difference between Pages and Profiles, how to set up your Page, how to manage your Page, and how to manage your circles.

    How Pages Differ from Profiles
    First and foremost, Google Plus Pages are different from Profiles because they are specifically designed for non-human entities. You can create a Page in the following types of categories: Local Business or Place; Product or Brand; Company, Institution or Organization; Arts, Entertainment or Sports; Other.

    Pages are marked by a distinct square-shaped, watermark both on the Page itself and in search results if you are looking for a Page directly. You will also notice on the sidebar of Pages the ability to +1 and share the Page, whereas in a personal Profile, these options aren’t available.

    How to Set Up Your Local Business Page
    To get started, go to: https://plus.google.com/pages/create. You will need a Google Plus Profile to complete this process. That’s because you will use your personal Profile to manage your Brand Page. Learn more about setting up a personal Profile to promote your local business.  

    Next, from Create a Page on Google+, you will select your business type. If you are marketing your business to local customers online, you’ll want to select “Local Business or Place” rather than the Product, Brand, or Company options, because those options do not have specific data formats to let you share localized information like your business phone number, address, and hours of operation.

    1) Select Your Phone Number: If you’re like many businesses, you may have several phone numbers. The one you want to add here is whichever phone number you have associated with your business’ Google Place Page. This will help increase your number of citations to your Page and is also important for the next step.

    2) Select Your Business Place: If your phone number is affiliated with your claimed Google Places Page, your business should show up in the next step, including business address. If it isn’t, you’ll need to add your business to Google, following the dialog boxes provided under the “Not found?” section.

    3) Identify Your Business Category: Next, you will select the category for you Page. Make sure to select the best fit for your business type here, because this also tells Google important information about your business.

    4) Create Your Page: Once you’ve finalized all this information, you’ll need to agree to the terms and conditions and click “Create.” This will generate your Google Plus Page.

    5) Upload Your Page Image: Next, you will want to upload a business profile image. This will require you to crop your image into a square shape, so you may want to request a designer to optimize your image to display in a square area if it is not already.

    6) Get the Word Out. At this point, you can share with your personal account’s followers that you have created a Google Plus Page. However, if you choose not to share right now, you will be able to go back in and share your Page from your personal Profile at a later time.

    7) Customize Your Page: To customize your business Page, select from top left hand side of your navigation bar the “Profile” icon, which is in the shape of a silhouette surrounded by a circle. Then, click the “About” tab of your profile and select “Edit Profile.” When in edit mode, you will notice a red bar on your profile instructing you to click on different parts of your profile to edit them. Currently, you have the option to optimize the following fields on your Google Plus Page About tab: introduction, hours, website, contact info, and recommended links. Here's how top optimize these elements of your Page:

    A) Add 5 Pictures to Your Page: Start at top of the page and click the section “Add some photos here,” and then upload five photos that best showcase the life of your brand. These will remain on the photo strip of your page until you remove them, so select photos and images that will best showcase the life of your business, like product, location and employee photos or even logos of awards your business has won.

    B) Optimize Your Introduction: Start by creating an optimized introduction about your business. Make sure to write it so it best describes your business to readers, and also use your most important local keywords in this copy, hyperlinking one or two important keywords to your business website.

    C) Add Business Hours: Next, add in your business hours. Make sure these are consistent with your actual hours of operation, and check that this is updated on your Google Places Page as well.

    D) List Your Website: Your business may have a website, as well as a blog, social profiles, and local listings. So, what should you pick for your website listing? For now, your best bet is to be consistent with whatever is listed on your Google Places Page.

    E) Link to Relevant Profiles and Sites: On the sidebar of this page, you can add “Recommended Links.” This is where you will want to add your business blog, social profiles, local listings and review sites you want to promote. To optimize each of these, use the following format: “Business Name + Site Name” For example, to link to your business Facebook Page, in the Label section, write “Business Name Twitter,” and then in the next box, list your Page’s unique URL.

    Once you are finished, click “Done editing,” which will allow you to use Google Plus as your Page.

    How to Manage Your Page
    To get to your personal Profile, click on the Google+ icon in the top left corner. You will notice the profile picture and icon of your business Page is displayed at the top of the left sidebar. To toggle to your personal account, click the down arrow and select your personal Profile avatar. Now you are managing Google Plus as your personal account. To toggle back to business, select the down arrow and choose your business Page icon.

    How to Manage Your Circles
    One big difference between a personal Profile and a business Page on Google Plus is that as a business, you can only add people to your circles if they add you first. So, here are a few tips for managing circles as a business:

    1) Promote Your Account Publicly: It’s important to promote your new business Page to all the contacts you have in your personal Profile. Additionally, it’s a great idea to write a blog post about your new Page and share about it on Twitter and Facebook to build a diversified network across all spaces. You can also send an email to customers, clients, and social fans and followers to let them know about your new presence.

    2) Circle Back: In order to share your content, you need to have people in your circles. So, it’s a good idea to “circle back” anyone who adds your business on Google Plus. To do this, go to your Circles tab, then click “people who have added you” to discover who you can add.

    3) Circle Strategically: In order to get the most out of Google Plus, you want to create specific circles of connections, because you can share content directly with those circles, in addition to posting public updates. You can also view your streams by circles, meaning that you can filter the content that’s shared with you based on who is in different circles. So, consider creating circles that highlight what is important to you, such as: Current Customers, Employees, Fellow Business Owners, Community Pages, Other Followers, etc.

    4) Share Circles Wisely: Once you’ve amassed enough people in each of your circles, you can share who is in certain circles with anyone you like, to encourage others to follow those accounts.

    What’s Next?
    Now that you’ve set up and optimized your Google Plus Page, you can start sharing! Stay tuned for part two of our series on Google Plus for Local Business to learn more tips and tricks on sharing content specifically on Google Plus. And, don’t miss our resources on how to use a personal Google Plus Profile to learn more about Google’s new social platform.Have a comment or a question? Let us know! And, make sure to circle ReachCast on Google+ to stay up to date with us!

    More About Google Plus

    About the Author
    As the lead blogger for ReachCast, Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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