Integrate Apps for your Small Business Marketing

There is little doubt that mobile devices are becoming the go-to technology for internet use. According to a research poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85% of American adults have a cell phone, and of those 55% of them use it to browse the web.

Further, of those who own a cell phone, the study found that 31% say they use their phones as their primary tool for web browsing.

Add to this number the fact that 25% of American adults own some type of internet-connected tablet and it is easy to realize the importance of creating a business web presence that is conducive to viewing on mobile devices.

There are a number of potential solutions for small business owners looking for a mobile-friendly web presence, including mobile-specific templates or new technologies called responsive web design that automatically adjust a website to a mobile-device’s browser.

Another possible solution, and one gaining momentum, is for businesses to create apps specific to their business.

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Use Online Content to the Fullest

This article is going to be an example of how you can take a single piece of content—in this case a story about your business, service or product—and use it to generate interest through a variety of mechanisms.

We will start with the content first. Let’s say you have some news to share about your business. Maybe you have added a product or maybe you have added a new service. Obviously you want the world to know about it. The most obvious thing to do—and traditionally the first thing that people do—is create a press release.

Once you have this written you will, naturally, submit it to local news and information media, like the Sun News for example. This is where the majority of business owners stop, which is a mistake because they are losing out on numerous more opportunities to spread their message.

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Who Can You Find to Help You With Social Media

If you own a small business—or any sized business—by now you know that social media is no joke. It is as essential a marketing channel as television, radio and print. If you don’t have at least some type of presence on social media, you really are losing out to your competition.

But with this in mind, many business-owners and marketing directors are confused about who should be doing their social media marketing.

It really comes down to two choices, hiring an outside company, or hiring or training someone to direct it from within. Here I’ll go through considerations for both choices (and in the interest of full-disclosure my company performs social media marketing for other businesses).

There are hundreds of companies that specialize in social media marketing. Some are huge, publicly traded companies that run the online presences of other huge corporations. But there are also a few in the local market, each offering to aid area businesses.

Using an outside company is not a bad idea. Some of the most memorable social media campaigns were conducted by outside organizations, like the “Old Spice Guy” campaign of 2011 that used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube so effectively. It was created for Proctor & Gamble by the online marketing agency, Widen & Kennedy and has been billed as one of the most successful social marketing campaigns yet created.

The drawback for using these agencies is that they are expensive for long-term sustainability, and they don’t have the insider’s knowledge of your business. The first point is easy enough to understand, but the second takes a bit of thinking.

Consider this. Who knows your customers, products and services better: you and your employees or an outside company? The answer is, of course, you. No outside company will have the knowledge and understanding that you and your employees do.

And this is why creating a position within your organization that is specifically for online and social marketing is the ideal approach. An employee that can spend time with customers offline, and then can engage with them online, plus who is at your location every day, will do a much better job than any number of offsite consultants.

The problem for hiring either an in-house employee or an offsite company is that many business owners don’t know what to look for. And no wonder: the profession is so new that academia really hasn’t had time to catch up to it. I assure you nobody will be graduating this December with the title of “Bachelor’s of Social Media Marketing.”

When looking at hiring either an outside company or an employee, you should make sure they have a lengthy track-record of success. It takes more than simply knowing how to create a Facebook page or Twitter profile to be “good” at social media marketing.

They must have an understanding of the difference between advertising and social media marketing. These are two very different disciplines that do not interchange. Knowing how to do one well does not necessarily translate into knowing how to do the other.

The one mistake you should never make—and a point made in a Forbes article that prompted this column—is not to assume that any college-age person “knows how to do social media.”

Sure, they probably know now to entertain their friends on Facebook, and they have a lot of personal followers on Twitter, but that does not at all mean they are professionals on these channels.

Put in some due diligence to find either a good organization to support you, or a good employee to carry out your social media marketing in-house, and you’ll see the results in no time.

Make Memes to Increase your Social Media Presence

If you’re on Facebook or other social networks you’ve see them. They’re those funny pictures, clever images, and silly captions that are traded throughout blogs, Twitter and elsewhere.

They are called memes and believe it or not they are a great way to boost your presence online.

The precise definition of a meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

If you think about it, that’s what these various funny pictures, videos and images do: they spread from person to person throughout the web. As one person finds it, finds it funny, and then forwards it on to friends and family, it then gets picked up and forwarded on again by those people. Before long, this “idea, behavior or style” becomes a dominating online theme.

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Share Information Through Social Media

Did you happen to see Felix Baumgartner jump out of a balloon last Sunday? If you did you joined a reportedly 8 million people who tuned into YouTube to watch the event live. This is probably one of the most watched live events broadcast over the internet, and it captivated people around the world.

Many of these people learned about the event in just the same way I did: they saw that someone else was watching it and decided to tune in themselves.

In my case, I was sitting comfortably in front of the television, the white noise of the Dallas Cowboys losing another game supplying background noise, while I surfed Facebook. A friend’s post told me he was watching Felix’s record-breaking sky dive attempt broadcast on YouTube. It sounded pretty interesting, so I clicked the link and spent the next ten minutes watching history.

The moral of the story is this: I never would have witnessed Fearless Felix’ jump unless the information was shareable.

Sharing information is nothing new. People have always related what they’ve seen, felt, heard, smelled or tasted to their friends or interested bystanders. This newspaper—like other newspapers around the world—reviews restaurants and movies for the benefit of its readers and (sometimes) the restaurant or movie.

What is new, however, is the possible reach of shared information. Looking at the Facebook profile of my friend who turned me onto the space jump in the first place, I see he has 109 friends. That is 109 potential audience members for that jump. I clicked the link and watched it myself. While I was watching it I likewise clicked the Facebook “Like” button below the video, and then my 321 friends also became potential viewers because they could have potentially seen that I was now watching the event and done likewise.

Thus the potential reach of information shared online via social media mechanisms is huge. When a piece of information somewhere on the web—anything from recipes to photos—can be shared, then the audience for that information grows substantially.

Businesses need to recognize this fact and release their information with the goal that it is shareable. Here are some ideas that can help.

Make sure that you use social media widgets on your website. Social media widgets are those small icons at the beginning or end of an article that allow to share the article via different social media channels (like Facebook or Twitter) simply by clicking the icon. This let’s readers or viewers quickly send tell people in their networks about the information, causing the viewership to grow.

Include methods for feedback, like comments or “like” buttons. The Sun News uses Facebook’s commenting system, meaning that whenever someone comments on a story on their website the story is then shared on the commenter’s Facebook timeline. This increases the exposure of the Sun News’ online presence and drives traffic to the website.

You can do the same on your website easily by going to Facebook (www.facebook.com) and getting the mechanism. Or, you can simply get Facebook’s “Like” button to include after the article, which means whenever someone “Likes” the article that user’s friends will see the activity.

Another mechanism you can look at is the Disqus commenting system (www.disqus.com), which allows anyone with some type of social media account (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to leave a comment, which is then broadcast to those channels via the user’s account.

Sharing information has become a norm among internet users, so making sure your information is shareable is very important. The more your information gets shared the better your online presence becomes, which means greater top-of-mind awareness for your brand and business.

Word One Consulting
575-496-6807
clint @ wordoneconsulting.com
2263 S. Main
Las Cruces, NM 88005