According to some analysts, the combination of a blog and a Twitter account is one of the easiest ways for people to dominate the field of opinion available online. Blogs allow people to express basically any thought they want, and Twitter allows them to get those thoughts out to a wider audience. The ease with which the two forces can be combined is what makes the pairing so effective. As a business, you too can harness that power. While you can go it alone, bringing in an SMM (Social Media Manager) to handle the job may be some of the best money you spend all year.
To demonstrate the awesome power of blogs combined with Twitter and other social media, let us examine a recent real life incident. A regular person with a small blog was dissatisfied with service at a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Norcross Georgia – Google it for a serious lesson in how fast blogs can take off. They blogged about the incident and tweeted it. Within a matter of hours, the blog was appearing on every social media outlet. Hundreds of hits per hour started piling in. Then it was picked up by local e-zines and re-tweeted over and over again. Dunkin Donuts corporate contacted the person and the problem was handled. But the initial post went on and on drawing traffic for days.
For a business, a social media manager can create much the same buzz – not every post, but more often than you would think. How do they do it? They pull this off by knowing how to work with social media platforms, investing the time to build a presence for their client on each one that is relevant to their business, and they already have their own established presence. They understand how to package your product, in this case your posts, and disseminate them in the most effective manner that carries the best possibility for creating a chain reaction of visits and hopefully conversions for your site.
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Businesses can do the same thing on their own, but before doing so they need to understand the opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is that they may oftentimes need to dedicate an single person to building a competent social networking presence full-time for the better part of a month or more. Social networking is not just a matter of opening accounts and posting material, it is about connecting with other people and businesses and scratching their back early on so they will do the same for you later. It is about knowing where to find those people, how to ally with them in this digital commune and how to get your message out in a manner that people not only want to receive it, they want to share it. That is what andoes and why it is better to hire one than try it on your own.
Don’t Be Anti-Social!
Do you have a “real” online presence? Sure you have a site and maybe you have a blog – or two. You have accounts at social networking sites that you manage as time allows, and once in awhile you might even take out an advertisement or two. Is that a real presence online? Is that doing enough to get your product/message/service out to the world – and does it need to go out to the world or just one small targeted area?
In order to make the most of your online budget, both time and money, and establish the right kind of online presence you need to know yourself first. If you have a small landscaping company in Monroe, NC, for instance – what are your real online needs? Let’s use this sample business to understand the process of going from just being online to being an online presence.
You have no need to rank well for searches around the world. As a small business that cannot sell a good or service online, your main goal is building up local awareness. You can’t give someone a virtual lawn cut after all. You can however book a cut for someone online after they find you. You will want to rank well for a variety of landscaping terms (landscaping, landscapers, mow lawns, etc…) with supporting retargeted terms like Monroe, Matthews, Charlotte or Mint Hill, for example, depending on where you actually want to conduct business. You may also want to add in keywords to rank for searches like get hedges trimmed, gardeners, or whatever other services you offer – with the same retargeted spin.
Showing up in the searches isn’t enough though. To really build an online presence you need to be active online. That is how you create buzz and stay at the top of the search engine rankings.
The best way to do this is to actively be involved in social networking. Building up a decent base of followers can take time but it is worth it. Ask your current clients to follow you – leaving a note with their bill that provides your online information should usually do the trick. This helps because their friends will see you on their wall, roster, etc… and your name will become what they think of when they need a landscaper. They know how to contact you.
Use your social media to get the word about your business out! Don’t share that you got a new whipper or something equally useless, use it to create business. Remind people they need their gutters cleaned before the fall. Let them know what area you will be in each day – and that you can provide job estimates by appointment in those areas each day. Let people know about if cinch bugs or some form of weevil is out of control in the area – and that you know how to control them and save their lawn or garden.
Finally, be social! It is social networking. Answer questions for people when you can, Provide a free helpful tip now and then. Try to remember to wish clients and friends a happy birthday, anniversary, or whatever pops up on the social calendar. Stay personally connected and even in tough times it will be difficult for them to cut business ties with you. Instead of thinking of you as “just the lawn man” you’ll also be a friend.