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    What are QR Codes? Mobile Expert Tom Martin Explains [Video]

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Did you know that experts predict that by 2015, the use of mobile web will surpass desktop use of the Internet? The use of mobile web use continues to expand, making mobile marketing an important, growing area for local businesses to invest in. There are many elements of mobile marketing you should consider, from having a mobile-accessible web presence to integrating your online web presence with your business offline.

    One new way to connect the life of your business online and offline is to use QR codes in your marketing. Just what are QR codes, and how can they help your local business? We asked mobile marketing expert Tom Martin, of Converse Digital, to share with us about QR codes and how local businesses are using them for marketing.

    Have you seen QR codes in businesses in your area? Have you tried using QR codes to market your local business? Share your thoughts, questions, or creative ideas in a comment!

    About the Author               
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.

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    Facebook SEO: Local Web Presence Optimization Tips

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Making sure your local business owns as much shelf space as possible is an important part of web presence optimization. Not only is this an important way to ensure that consumers can discover your brand on sites like Facebook, it’s an important way to generate more likes and social signals about your brand, which search engines are using to make search more social. So, here are a few basic tips to help you optimize your business Facebook page for SEO.

    1) Create a Custom URL – Once your business has received 25 “Likes” on Facebook, you can create a vanity URL for your business page. Essentially, this is a user name which will include the facebook domain and then your page user name, in the format facebook.com/username. Not only does this help you easily share about your social profiles conversationally within your business, but also, a vanity URL can signal to search engines that your Facebook page is affiliated with your brand. The best practice for SEO purposes is to select your company name, and if it’s not available, choose something as close to it as you can. Once you select your Facebook user name, you can’t change it, so make sure to spell check and double check your user name before you finalize the name.

    2) Select Your Name – When you first set up a Facebook page, you can select a company name. The name on your Facebook page is a separate component than your URL, and like with that element, it’s a best practice to make sure the name of your business Facebook page is as close to your actual business name as possible. This will reinforce consistency of your brand and help search engines associate your business Facebook page with your business. If you would like to change the name of your business Facebook page, you have to have at least 100 fans.

    3) Optimize Keywords in Information Section In the basic information section, you have several areas to share information about your business, such as categories like About, Overview, Description, and General Information. Depending on the type of category you select for your business, you may have different fields available to customize. In order to get the most out of your page, it’s best to complete every field on the information tab. Make the “About” section short and sweet, because only the first 65 characters of your “About” section will show up on the home screen of your Facebook page. The entirety of the About section, as well as the other fields you customize in the information section will show up on the Information tab. So, in the additional fields, like Overview, General Information, or Products and Services, write your business keywords into some of the copy, but don’t just add a list of your keywords there. Just like with any SEO copy, you want the information page to be persuasive to readers and at the same time informative to search engines.

    4) Include Accurate, Consistent Listing Details – For a local business, you can include important business information on the information section of Facebook, including your address, as well as hours and contact information. Just as you would to optimize your online business listings, make sure that you fill this out accurately, and that you are consistent with every detail, from abbreviations to hyphenations, with how you display this information in your other local listings.

    5) Promote Company Links – In addition to keyword copy ad listing information, you can use the Information section of your Facebook page to link to important company sites, including your business web site, blog, social media profiles, and review sites.

    6) Link to Your Page Offsite – Not only should you link to your sites from your Facebook page, but you should link to your Facebook page from your business website and blog. Not only does this boost the value of the Facebook page in search engines, but it can help connect your business with its social media outlets, an important element of web presence optimization. You can even imbed a Facebook Like box on your website to help increase engagement and Likes.

    7) Post Fresh Content – Posting fresh, interesting content is important to improving the SEO value of your Facebook page. So, sharing updates, links, images, videos, and questions can not only generate engagement with your fanbase, it can also demonstrate that your Facebook page is an active, valuable page, helping boost its SEO value as well.

    8) Optimize Photos – Just like with traditional SEO, you can optimize images in Facebook. Although the images themselves aren’t content, there is content associated with these pictures, such as image names, captions, and even comments. So, make sure to optimize all the images you post to Facebook using descriptions rich with valuable keywords.

    9) Acquire Likes – Another important element in creating a search optimized Facebook page is to generate more likes on your page itself. Likes can help your content get seen more often in the Facebook News feed itself. And, as search becomes more social, search engines are finding ways to take social data such as likes and surface it on search results. For example, Bing’s recent social search integration with Facebook will surface Facebook pages that your friends have liked when you search for certain terms in Bing social search.

    These are just a few tips to help you with Facebook SEO for your local business page. Is your business on Facebook? What SEO tips and tricks have you tried? Have a question about Facebook SEO? Share your feedback in a comment.

    About the Author               
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.

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    7 Ways to Reward Your Facebook & Twitter Followers

    Last updated 3 years ago

    7 Ways to Reward Your Facebook & Twitter Followers

    Creating an engaged, thriving community of Twitter and Facebook fans and followers is an important part of building a dynamic web presence that can benefit your business – both online and offline. So, what can you do to reward your social fans and followers? Here are seven ways you can say “thank you” to those who follow your business online.  

    1) Coupons & Discounts – Sharing coupons and discounts with your Twitter or Facebook community can be a good way to not only generate more fan and follower interest, but to give your online followers a good reason to come visit you in person, too. You can do an exclusive offer just for social followers and ask them to share the discount with their friends and family to spread your social influence and generate more likes and follows. To track how your offer translates to sales, create a special code or tracking number and train staff to keep track of how many coupons are redeemed.

    2) Service or Product Upgrades – A twist on offering a coupon or discount is to simply offer upgrades and extras to your fans and followers. For example, you could offer priority scheduling or premium product for fans and followers who visit your business on a certain day of the week. Be strategic when offering an upgrade, and make the extra cost worth the investment by offering the upgrade only on the day of the week or hour during the day your business is typically slower than the rest.

    3) Exclusive Tips & Announcements – Give your fans and followers insight and tips about your business to help build the relationship and create some buzz around your brand online. For example, a sandwich shop could create a “Twitter Special” available by request only. Or, a service business could announce an empty appointment hour at a discounted rate to the first Twitter or Facebook followers to call to book that time slot.

    4) Special Events – For local businesses, customer appreciation events are a great way to share your gratitude with loyal customers. In the social media world, “tweetups,” which are events where Twitter acquaintances meet each other in real life, are a popular event type. You can take a page from both event types and create a special fan and follower meetup at your business, even integrating check-in sites like Foursquare to hold a swarm party. You can also involve your fans and followers in other events your business hosts onsite or around the community. Events are a great way to generate other media for your web presence as well, such as images and video, so you can ask fans and followers to share pictures of your business events on your Facebook page, too.

    5) Fan Recognition – It may sound simple, but recognizing fans and followers online can be a great reward. Simply interacting with your fans on Twitter, or thanking Facebook followers when they comment on your page or engage with your content can be a form of social reward. Take this idea a step further and create an ongoing program, like a “fan of the week” or “getting to know you” feature, where you select a fan, notify them of the recognition, and then recognize them publicly on your page as a way to say thank you.

    6) Loyalty & Reward Programs – If you have a loyalty or reward program in your business, find ways to integrate a connection to your business on Facebook and Twitter into your program. For example, you could offer customers an extra 100 reward points when they follow your business. Or, if you have a punch card reward program, you could create a special card with one less punch required for people who follow your business online!

    7) Contests & Drawings – Contests are a fun way to not only reward fans and followers, but to build buzz around your brand online as well. You can give away cash or prizes, or tie the incentive into your business by offering a nice product or service as the prize. The sky is the limit with creating contests, and they can be a great way to get your fans and followers engaged online. For example, some local businesses create testimonial video contests, where they have fans submit videos of why they love the business, or others have participants take and share creative pictures with their products or services. With any giveaway, promotion, or contest, make sure to have contest guidelines and consult with an expert on legal requirements you are unsure of. If you want to host a contest on Facebook, make sure you understand the site’s new promotion guidelines, like that all contests run on the site must use an app.

    These are just seven ways you can reward social fans and followers. Have you used any of these ideas in your local business? What have you seen other businesses do to reward their fans? Share your thoughts on social rewards in the comments!

    About the Author               
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.

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    What's up with Twitter and Facebook? News, Features & Updates to Know

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Keeping up with all the news, updates, and feature announcements on some of the top social networks can be challenging. And the last few weeks have been particularly full of social network news. Here’s a rundown of some of the latest buzz about Twitter and Facebook to keep you in the loop:

    Twitter

    • Apple iOS 5 Integration – At a recent press conference, Apple announced that it will deeply integrate Twitter into the upcoming iOS 5, which will launch this fall, making it easier for users to share photos, videos, and links on Twitter with just one click. And, app developers will have the ability to add simple, one-click integration into apps to make them more social. Experts say this could boost Twitter’s exposure and help grow its user base.
    • Link Shortening – There are a variety of link shortening services that help make it easier to share content with links in Twitter’s 140 character space limit. Twitter announced that it will begin automatically shortening long links to its http://t.co format, creating a 19-character link automatically for users posting via Twitter.com. The company noted that third-party link shortening services (such as http://bit.ly) will still work on Twitter.com. A long awaited feature, this can cut down on the time it takes to share links on the site. Additionally, links shortened within the Twitter web app will display a shortened version of the original link, helping users detect the authenticity of links and avoid security issues.    
    • Photo Sharing – Twitter also announced that it is rolling out native photo sharing. Sites like Twitpic and Yfrog have been offsite, third-party tools to help you post images and share short links to them. Now, photos and videos can be connected directly to tweets, rather than just linked through them. Users won’t have to leave Twitter.com to post or view the images or videos posted through the site. Since the feature is powered by Photobucket, Twitter users will be able to do more advanced features like editing images if they have a Photobucket account. In addition, popular images and videos shared directly via Twitter will be featured on the homepage, which provides an interesting new avenue to expand awareness using Twitter.

    Facebook

    • Tag Suggestions and Facial Recognition – In a somewhat controversial update, Facebook launched tag suggestions using a powerful facial recognition software that will recognize friends in photos you upload and recommend that you tag them. The controversial part is that Facebook turned on the new feature as a default. This means that if you don’t want Facebook to recommend your face be tagged in other people’s photos that you appear in, you have to change your privacy settings. You can adjust the settings for this feature by going to Account > Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook > Customize Settings > Suggest Photos of Me to Friends > Edit Settings. Luckily, Facebook will notify you if friends tag you in a photo, so you can remove yourself from any images you don’t want associated with your Facebook profile.
    • Facebook Testing Real-Time Updates – Though still in the testing phase, Facebook is reported to be developing a real-time feature called “Happening Now,” which shows what your Facebook friends are doing as they do it, such as liking or commenting on content on Facebook, in your main news feed.
    • New Contest Guidelines – Recently, Facebook updated its guidelines for running contests, promotions, and sweepstakes through Facebook. Among the many changes, users are now required to run Facebook contests via an app. In addition, the guidelines clarify that users cannot use Facebook features (like comments or messages) to enter or vote in a contest or to notify winners. Here’s a handy rundown we put together of some of the Facebook contest changes you need to know.  
    • Approaching 700 Million Users – Facebook reached 687 million global users in May, increasing its total reach worldwide.
    • Social Search with Bing – Facebook also recently announced an integration with Bing that will enable users to harness their personal social graph when they search the Internet. Bing’s social search, which users can opt to enable, features algorithm updates, social search results, integrated social messages, and more. We put together an overview of some of the features of Bing’s new social search to get you up to speed.

    These are just some of the new features, updates, and announcements from some of the hottest social media sites. What do you think about Twitter’s new features? Are you using tag suggestions on Facebook? Let us know what you think about these stories by leaving us a comment!

    About the Author               
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.

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    How to Use an iPad to Connect Your Offline and Online Presence

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Web presence is an important way consumers find and engage with your brand online. Today, tablet technology offers local businesses an affordable way to connect their online presence with their offline presence. For example, many local businesses are using tablets like the iPad, Xoom, and Galaxy as a way for customers to connect with the brand online, helping establish the connection between physical location and digital web presence. Here are a few ways you can use an iPad to connect your online and offline presence:

    Showcase Images & Videos – If you have invested time, energy, and money into creating beautiful product, location, or service images of your business, chances are you want to display them in your business as well. You can showcase a rotating gallery of images on an iPad displayed on your counter using a display stand. Likewise, product, service, how-to, and testimonial videos can be engaging and useful to display in your business lobby or waiting area. This can help connect the visual elements of your online brand with your offline presence, emphasizing your branding and offering engaging content to customers.

    Facilitate Social Connections – One of the best ways to generate social fans and followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter is to ask your current customers to “like” your business online. If you have an internet-enabled iPad available in your store or to your service force, you can preload sites like Facebook or Twitter onto the browser. You can then allow customers to log in to their personal accounts to like your business online directly from your store. Just make sure to log out of your personal or business accounts first, and remind them to do the same once they are done!

    Since social media isn’t just about helping new customers discover your business and search engines are looking more and more to social signals like Facebook likes for how your business ranks online, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure existing customers are following your business online.

    Request Customer Reviews – The most effective way to generate positive customer reviews online is to ask happy customers to leave you a review. And what better time to ask them than when they are inside your business? As a courtesy, you can load your business’s Yelp, Google Places, or Cast Page Reviews page onto your iPad to make it easy for customers to navigate to your review sites.

    Enable Email Collection – Collecting the email addresses of your customers is an important way to stay in touch online. Email is not only a great way to notify customers of specials, promotions, and events, but to remind them about your social sites as well through links and icons! If you have an existing digital form to collect email addresses on your website or another link, load this page onto your iPad browser so that customers can easily add their address to your list. If you don’t have a digital form to collect email addresses, you can create a form using Google Docs, which creates a published link you can share to collect information, just like a survey tool. Then, you’ll have a working spreadsheet of your email addresses on file that you can easily access.

    There are countless ways to use an iPad or tablet in your local business. These are just a few ideas that can help you connect the offline with the online. Have you purchased a tablet for your local business? How have you used it? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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    About the Author               
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.

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