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    Steal these Social Media Stats: 15 Amazing Facebook and Twitter Facts

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Facebook: it’s the place many of us go to keep in touch with friends and family, get the latest news and entertainment, and engage with our favorite businesses.  But what do you really know about the world’s number 1 social networking site?  For starters, did you know that Facebook has a population twice the size of the U.S., with 660 million users?

    And don’t forget about Twitter, which is steadily gaining traction with both consumers and local businesses. Did you know that it only takes one week for users to generate one billion Tweets? At only 140 characters each, how many micro-blogs do you share in a day?

    Here are some more staggering facts about Facebook and Twitter that you should know:

    1) Social networking is the number one online activity in the U.S. A year ago, it was email.

    2) The average Facebook user has 130 friends.

    3) Three out of four U.S. Internet users visit Facebook every month.

    4) Facebook accounts for one quarter of all U. S. page views  In fact, it receives 3% more web visits and almost five times more page views than Google.

    5) The average user spends 25 minutes per day on Facebook.

    6) Facebook now has 154 million U.S. users. That’s a whopping 38% more than it had in 2009!

    7) Facebook is the number 1 publisher of display ads.

    8) 30 billion pieces of content like photos, videos, web links, news stories, and blog posts are shared on Facebook each month. If every piece of content was printed out on a sheet of paper and placed side by side, it would reach the moon 16 times.

    9) 200 million users use mobile devices to access Facebook. And, people who use Facebook via mobile are twice as active as non-mobile users.

    10) U.S. Facebook advertising spend is expected to reach $2 billion in 2011.

    11) 48% of local businesses use Facebook to reach local consumers.

    12) In the last year, local businesses have doubled their use of social media for marketing.

    13) Users generate about 140 million Tweets per day, or 1,600 every second. A year ago, the daily average was just 50 million.

    14) Hold the Smartphone: 40% of all Tweets are made from mobile devices.  

    15) On average, 460,000 new Twitter accounts are created every day — that’s equal to one account for every resident of Sacramento, CA.

    Want more stats? Last week, we unveiled the Web Presence Factbook, a collection of some of the most astonishing online consumer statistics from across the Web. So check it out to discover even more gripping facts about your favorite online pastimes, and then tell us which ones blew your mind!

    Tamara Farley helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.

    HOW TO: Use Your Smartphone Camera to Market Your Local Business

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Did you know that by the end of 2011, more than 50% of Americans will own smartphones? This tool is great not just for consuming media and digital content, but also for promoting your local business, especially since most of today’s smartphones come equipped with a high quality camera.

    That means it’s now even easier to create interesting, engaging photos and videos that illustrate the life of your businesses, which consumers love to see on sites like Facebook and Twitter. So, here are a few basic tips for getting the best photos and videos of your small business’ products, services, and location that you can.  

    Basic Smartphone Photo Tips

    Test your flash options. The automatic settings on your phone camera will typically set the flash to go off in low light settings, but you can use different levels of light to create different dynamics in your photos. So, test different lighting options by turning your flash on or off manually within different lighting situations to see what kind of results you get. Check out these examples of how flash can affect your photos:

    Work with environmental lighting. Also, you can use the natural and artificial lighting within your environment to your advantage by adjusting the amount and positioning of light within the area you’re shooting. Open and close windows or doors, turn artificial lighting on and off, and position yourself and your camera in different relationship to the light and the subject you’re shooting to get varying results. See how environmental lighting can affect your pictures in these examples:

    Compose photos artfully. One secret to making smartphone pictures look more polished is to pay careful attention to composition. For example, shooting above or below a subject, taking advantage of different angles can create a more interesting result. There are many tips and secrets for composing photos, so explore some different composition techniques to enhance your smartphone photos. In these examples, simply changing the background of the photo creates a completely different composition: 

    Keep it steady. It’s important to make sure your camera is as stable as possible when taking pictures to avoid blurry images, so try propping it up on something solid or using equipment designed to make smartphones more photography-friendly, like a smartphone tripod, which plays double duty when you start using your smartphone to take videos.  

    Basic Smartphone Video Tips

    Audio – Audio is one of the biggest challenges for shooting video on your smartphone. So, make sure the place you’re shooting in is free of natural noise and distractions, such as people talking, phones ringing, or traffic going by. Keep your phone close to the subject you’re videoing, and make sure that you’re not covering up the built-in microphone with your finger! To get better sound, see if external microphones are available for your phone.  

    Lighting As with smartphone photography, lighting is important for producing a good video. So, work with environmental lighting such as natural light or florescent lights, and test different options, angles, and and setups before you shoot your video!  

    Framing – Make sure the subject of your video is centered appropriately in your video and that your are close enough to your subject when capturing video so that they fill the screen, because you won’t be able to easily fix framing problems later like you can with photos. So, carefully frame your video before you shoot, and pay attention to little details like the setting, background, or backdrop.

    Length – The most effective videos keep it short and simple. If you can time your videos well, that means you won’t need to do time-intensive editing before posting videos online. It may help to script out and time your thoughts before you shoot to make sure you can stay between 30-120 seconds, the general rule of thumb for online video length.

    Editing – Editing can be a time and labor intensive task, so try to limit the need for editing as much as possible by shooting your video strategically. When you need to edit or clip a video from your phone, you can use apps like Snip Video Trimmer for Android or iMovie for the iPhone 4.

    There's an App for That! 

    There are numerous photography and video apps available for both Android and iPhone users that can help you create and capture great images of your business for the web. 

    Helpful iPhone Apps

    • Adobe Photoshop Express – Allows you to edit photos by cropping, adjusting color, filtering, adding effects, creating borders, and more, right from your phone.
    • Hipstamatic & Instagram – Let you add filters and layers to give your pictures a more stylized look.
    • Camera+ – Makes your iPhone camera even more powerful with a stabilizer, autofocus, gridlines, a timer, and more.
    • 360 Panorama – Allows you to create panoramic pictures using your iPhone for a dramatic visual image.
    • iMovie – On the iPhone 4, you can use this app to create movies incorporating video, photo, music and sound effects, trim clips, share videos, and more.

    Helpful Android Apps

    • Adobe Photoshop Express – Allows you to edit your Android photos by adjusting color, cropping, and adding artistic effects and share them online.
    • Retro Camera  & Vignette – These apps allow you to add a nostalgic feel to your pictures with different filters and effects.
    • Camera 360 Ultimate – Allows you to take more professional photos with your Android camera with various effects and features.  
    • Phoraf 3D Panorama – You can create and share panoramic photos using this app and your Android camera.  
    • Snip Video Trimmer – Trim your video clips from your phone to make them easier to share online.

    Have you used your phone’s camera to take and share photos and videos of your business? What tips, tricks, or apps work well for you? Share your ideas in the comments section!

    Enjoy this Article?
    Share it with your network on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about creating content, or get updates straight to your inbox.

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

    Google Places Optimization: The Devil's in the Details with Local Listings

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Building a dynamic Web Presence is the key to helping local consumers discover your business when they search for products and services online. And, since 86% of local consumers use the Internet to find a local business, with search being the top way people look for products or services online, showing up in local search is an important goal for any local business.  And, one important factor in your Web Presence is to have a strong Google Places page so that when consumers are looking for a local business like yours but not typing in your business name directly, they’ll be able to find you.

    According to the Google Places Help page for business owners, you can help consumers discover your local business by optimizing your listing with  accurate and complete details, selecting the most appropriate category for your business, and making sure you have a solid, accurate Web Presence across the Web. Notice that Google places a heavy emphasis on accuracy.

    Taken together, these tips mean that having a great Google Places page is more than simply having the correct information on your Google Places listing. It underscores the importance of having accurate and consistent listings across your entire Web Presence – including third-party review sites like CitySearch and Urbanspoon (although Google Places no longer aggregates reviews from Yelp).

    Why is accuracy and consistency across your Web Presence important? According to the Google Places Help page, “Google improves search results by aggregating information about your business from all over the Web. Make sure information about your business on third-party sites is accurate, and try to contact the respective site directly to correct any inaccurate information.” Plus, if your Web Presence isn’t consistent, Google may not attribute reviews on third-party sites to your business, significantly altering the impact of your Google Places page and thus affecting search.  That’s because reviews are a major ranking factor for Google Places pages.

    Making sure you have an accurate, consistent Web Presence doesn’t just end with your local listings! Double check these details across all the pages of your website, including the “about” page and details like the footer. Check these details on your social media profiles and pages and anywhere you’ve contributed information about your local business online.

    Not Sure Where to Start?

    Make sure you the following details are consistent across your Web Presence:  

    • Physical Address
    • Phone Number
    • Business Name

    Double Check the Details

    It’s also important to make sure that your definition of “complete and accurate information” is more than simply that the information looks similar to the naked eye. For example, you might look at “1234 Tree Line Drive, Anywhere, Texas” and “1234 Treeline Dr. Anywhere, TX” and see that they’re the same address or read 1-888-555-5000 and 888.555.5000 as the same phone number. But to search engines, every single detail is needs to be the same to be complete, accurate and exactly the same across your Web Presence – down to the nitty, gritty details. So, make sure to double check the following when posting your business information online:  

    • Spelling – Make sure every word in your address and business name is spelled accurately and consistently. Beware: spell check may be your enemy here, since many local business names are plays on common words. Make sure that the spelling of your business name you list is yours!
    • Abbreviations – Does your business name include an abbreviation? If so, use it consistently across your business name mentions, punctuating it accurately. Also, make sure you use abbreviations consistently in your physical address, including whether or not you spell out or abbreviate your state name and street names like “Road,” “Lane,” or “Trail.”
    • Periods – After your abbreviations, do you leave them hanging or add a period? Also, watch out for alternating use of periods or hyphens within phone numbers across your listings. Pick your preference and be consistent.
    • Dashes & Hyphens – Do you know the difference between a hyphen and a dash? Hyphens go in phone numbers and some descriptive phrases like “Go-To Guy. ” Whether or not you know how to use them properly, make sure you’re using them consistently in your listings.
    • Commas & Apostrophes – Is there a comma in your business name? An apostrophe – before or after an “s”? Double check this detail!
    • Spaces – Is there a space in your business name or not? Are there two spaces after a period, or one? Spaces are tricky little details that often go overlook but can make a big impact.
    • Ampersands – Is it “Tile and Flooring” or “Tile & Flooring?” Make sure you’re consistently using this special character if there’s an “and” in your business name.
    • Special Characters – Double check any other special characters like dollar signs, parentheses, or brackets.

    When is the last time you checked to see if your address, phone number, and business name are accurate and consistent across your entire Web Presence? Taking the time to adjust and update these details can help you make sure every element of your Web Presence is working for you to help consumers find you online.

    Enjoy this Article?
    Share it with your network on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about search and social discovery.

    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.

    Search Plus Social: What is Google +1 and Why Does It Matter?

    Last updated 3 years ago

    For a few months, Google has been talking about its plans to further incorporate social metrics into their search products, looking at indicators like social shares as signals of important content. This week, they formally announced a new feature called +1, or “Plus One,” a social button that will allow Google users to recommend sites and share their recommendations with friends.

    Over time, you’ll begin to see the +1 icon on a variety of places, like individual search results as well as Google Ads for users who search when logged in to their Google accounts. Reportedly, a button, similar to the Facebook like button now seen on thousands of websites and blogs, will eventually be available for publishers to add to sites as well.

    How will +1s work?
    Like social search, Google will use a variety of signals to determine which +1s to show you, according to the Official Google blog, such as social signals and recommendations from people you’re connected to through Google chat or Google contacts. Eventually, connections on other sites, like Twitter, may be incorporated as well to make sure you’re getting relevant recommendations. You can visit the Google Dashboard’s “Social Circle and Content” section to find out who you’re already connected to. 

    According to the official Google Blog, “The beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).”

    So, what will +1s look like?
    Here’s an example of how the +1 Button will display on Google ads, courtesy of the Google Adwords blog.

    The feature will be rolled out slowly, starting with Google’s English language users. For users who want to access the feature early, Google will be launching an experimental search site to allow users to opt-in.

    To learn more about Google +1, check out this Google video on how they envision the service working for Google :

    Why Do +1s Matter?

    While there’s been a lot of buzz about this new feature, there is still much unknown about how it will impact sites and publishers as well as advertisers running search engine marketing campaigns. However, as the major player in search, Google is in a position to create a major incentive for sites to incorporate +1s, especially if +1s become a component of the Google search algorithm. Time will tell, and the adoption of +1s by users and publishers will play a big role in how successful and influential +1 becomes.

    As the major player in search, it’s clear that Google hasn’t given up on social. Do you think Google’s headed in the right direction with +1?

    Enjoy this Article?
    Share it with your network on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about search and social discovery.

    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.

    Report: Consumers Use Social Media with Search Before they Buy

    Last updated 3 years ago

    It’s often said that online search and social media go hand in hand. And it’s true, according to new research from Group M search and comScore, which found that consumers are more frequently using social media in addition to online search to make purchase decisions.

    The study shows that buyers who convert online are just as likely to use both search and social media as they are to use search on its own, with 48% of consumers using a combination of resources. The study also reveals that when consumers were exposed to branded search results and information about the business on social media, search click through rates went up by 94%. The study also found that the top four social media resources consumers consider when making purchase decisions are: review sites, Facebook, video sharing sites like YouTube, and Twitter.

    This research validates the need for local businesses to focus a portion of their marketing efforts to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as online reputation management, in addition to just search engine marketing . This combined tactic will help them create a total web presence and reach more consumers online. Recent data from BIA/ Kelsey and Comstat confirms that nearly 50% of small businesses are already using Facebook to reach local consumers, and nearly 20% are using Twitter. In fact, Twitter use by small businesses has doubled in the past year.

    Is your local business taking advantage of social media and reputation tools to help potential buyers make purchasing decisions? If so, how are you integrating social media marketing with your other online marketing efforts? We’d love to hear about your experience – leave us a comment!

    Tamara Farley helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal

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