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Social Media Marketing

Online Black Friday Sales Top $1 Billion. Time to Sell Online Better Than Ever

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CNN recently reported that Online Black Friday sales topped $1 Billion last week, the most ever. That is a 26% increase from 2011. All signs point to 1 thing- the time to sell online is now.

Bricks and Mortar stores only account for 45% of online sales, companies like Walmart, BestBuy, and Apple seeing a 32% combined increase from a year before. That data tells a very revealing story… 55% of online shopping came from 2nd tier websites, or small business or niche eCommerce companies. The data is telling- the time to sell online is now.

With the ability to create a powerful e-commerce website using 3rd party platforms like OpenCart, Magento, and WordPress, it is only logical that every small business in the retail industry needs to be online. 55% of local business search is mobile now. Online Advertising is more affordable than ever using tools like Google Adwords and Yelp Ads, and deal makers like Groupon and Living Social.

The good part about this new trend is that there is so much room to grow. Other than electronics, consumer polls show that there is no #1 site in many other retail categories like Womens Clothing, Sporting Goods, and others. A new e-commerce company can lay claim to a niche locally and even nationally.  With the increase of social media marketing and peer ratings, high budget advertising is really a thing of the past. Peer-to-peer marketing is now more vital than ever. Having high reviews, social media exposure, and competitive pricing go a long way today. Get in on it now!

Yelp Has Replaced Google Places on the new iPhone 5 Maps App – The Good and the Bad For Your Business

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The highly anticipated iPhone 5 has come with several new features; a bigger screen, faster operating system, lighter design, and a list of other new tools and gadgets.  As a business owner though, one thing you might of noticed has or will catch your attention sooner or later- Yelp is now the main source of business information on the new Apple Maps tool! Gone is Google Places, which has been the most targeted network for local businesses the last 10 years.  What does that mean? A lot if you never considered Yelp important, which no one has recently since Google Places launched a few years ago.

So how does this impact your business? Well, for starters, if your business is not listed on Yelp, you should do it now! When someone searches for a business address, phone number, or location information, Yelp is now fully integrated in the new Apple Maps app.  Google is now not only not integrated in Apple Maps, it is also not providing driving directions on the phone itself.

Is Yelp a good thing or bad thing for your business?? Well, for many business owners, including myself, Yelp is both a plus and a minus, depending on your experience. For starters, anyone can leave a review on your Yelp listing, good or bad, with no consequences.  I have had a lot of clients who had an ex employee or even a competitor write a damaging review and Yelp cannot remove it, as per their “guidelines”. Why? Well Yelp isn’t really a business directory, its a social network. Since people run Yelp, the company does not oversee or approve both good and bad reviews.  It has an automated system that regulates reviews and wants to show “balance”. So, even if you have 4 new customers write great reviews about your company, the bad review will still show on top in order to show the reader a fair analysis. But, as you have read, there is no filter for bad press, so if you run into this situation, it can be damaging for your business.

Now thats not to say Google Maps and Places was all fair. There was and still is a lot of bad practices and similar bad tactics used. But, unlike Yelp, Google has a special team that eventually hears and settles complaints from business owners. There has been no indication from Yelp that they are going to legitimize their business listings as of yet.

I see it as a personal attack on Google considering the current Apple vs Samsung patent lawsuits going on.  As you may have read, Apple is suing Samsung, which has smartphones running on the Android OS, the arch rival of the Apple OS, over similar features found in their phones.  I have to suspect that alienating Google from one of the most used iPhone apps is a direct hit to Google in order to strut their muscle. For business owners, it may be a time to either panic or become more active in this new trend that is surely going to affect every local business.

What can you do? Well, taking a strong and new approach to Yelp is key.  Regulating and cleaning up your Yelp page is the number one priority.  Many have said that if you become a paying Yelp customer, it is easier to get the Yelp team to help you with negative reviews. That, to me, makes sense. The first step is to CLAIM YOUR LISTING. you do this under a free Yelp business account, not a regular account. Go to http://biz.yelp.com to set it up.

You must monitor your Yelp account constantly now, as much as your Google Places accounts.  Yelp is now positioned to re-emerge as a strong local search player, so stay up to date on new tools that they are surely to deploy soon.  Most importantly, get new clients to write positive reviews, because sooner or later you are going to run into a situation and you do not want the negative marks to hurt the ability to product business!

Contact us if you need help setting up your Yelp Action Plan today.

How to Market Your Company on Facebook

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Social media is here people. Its no longer a fad, a trend, a new “hip” niche in the internet. It is front and center now, ahead of every business who wants to see the next quarter report with positive earnings. People socialize on the internet now more than ever.  Everyone is using the internet  on the go now, with mobile web search second to text messages, in their smart phones.  It is imperative for a company to target this audience with their marketing initiatives, and naturally, Facebook, the face of social media, is the most ideal option.

But how do you do it? How do you market your business product or service to a network of millions of people, the 3rd largest population in the world if Facebook was a nation?? That is the million dollar question (literally). But no worries, I am here to get the search started! Here are the top 2 ways to market your company on Facebook:

Facebook for Business

A business listing is essential on any internet directory. Reviews and visibility are king. A Facebook Business Page allows your company to gain a voice on the network.  You are able to gain a large following with “likes”, which is the equivalent of friends on Facebook.  It is a great platform to gain insight on customers, market new products, announce events, and engage new clients.  The goal is to gain access to friends of your followers. How? Well as you gain likes, make sure that what you market to their pages or timelines encourage action, such as promotions or discounts. People tend to trend those kinds of activities the most.

Facebook Groups

Groups are large niche networks of Facebook users, usually for a cause or reason.  They are similar to your business page, only thing is you join it or create it, and it is not entirely public. Starting a group is similar to a business page, but joining groups are where the value is.  Some groups are with tens of thousands of members, so it is an ideal platform to build your audience. Have a common strategy though, and be cautious. You can be kicked out groups, or tuned out, if you are too aggressive with your product or service. Be smart and engage users with talking trends. Take part in discussions. People are more likely to follow you if you are seen as engaging, rather than just another form of advertising.

There you have it folks, the top 2 tools at your disposal on Facebook for online marketing. Their are advertising avenues as well, such as Facebook Ads, that are similar to Google Adwords text ads that allow you to pay per click or impression. You can guide people to your Facebook business page or website. Personally, I guide those visits directly to my landing page or website. Unless you have a truly busy and engaging Facebook page, don’t risk the lead.

Good luck my friends and remember, find out who your customer is, and start the strategy with a solid plan!

How to Advertise on Facebook – Paid and non-Paid

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Facebook is the number one social website on the planet.  It has become its own eco-system on the web. It reminds me of AOL in the 1990’s… you would log in and enter a unique online world, not an empty hallway like Google and Netscape (remember them?) used to be.  Facebook holds more information about people than any other PR company can ever give you, and there are both free and paid methods to get business using that information.

One of the first strategies any online marketing strategist will tell you is to get a Business Page on Facebook.  It can become your business hub of your social media strategy. You can use it to attract a fanbase, similar to an email list or phone list, that allows you to convey a message to all at the click of a mouse. The goal is to get a broad audience, with the biggest companies having millions of followers. Interacting with others on facebook and being proactive amongst users will gain you a following in no time!

Another free key strategy on facebook is to be active in social groups. Similar to forums, you need to be aware that no one wants to be sold every second of the day! Engaging potential clients with issues and questions they have is just as important as pitching your new product or service. The more they see you as an online friend, the better the chance that their social circle will migrate to your business page

Online Ads are the main revenue source for facebook, and for good reason. Facebook gives you the power to concentrate your ads to a very specific audience. Filters like age, income, location, income, education, company, profession, etc. give you the power to center your message to your customer profile. NO ONE offers that in the real world, which is what makes Facebook a must for any business!

As you will see from the points noted above, your facebook marketing campaign needs to be centered on your online business strategy. Mainly, who is your customer?? This is key to be successful. Taking in mind what you now know, creating or re-writing your strategy tailored for Facebook is most likely essential.

Happy hunting!

How to Improve your Page Rank on Google

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I assume your thinking about improving your page rank.. who isn’t right? Why search the web for articles or buy expensive software when you can easily do it yourself!
Just use Google’s Webmaster Tool’s- a free tool that can work wonders for your SEO and Page Rank goals. Because, ultimately, who knows more about how to improve your PR than Google?

A little about it

Page Rank or PR – It’s The Holy Grail of webmasters.
I’ve searched the web and have read many articles describing what the method of Page Rank is and how to use some sort of gadget to improve it instantly. Some of them give clues how to increase this value. It is interesting to me that, for many people, this indicator seems to be a little artificial. Everyone aims for PR10, which means maximum page rank exposure, but few know the real reason. If a website has good content, it will eventually be displayed on top of the searches for interesting keywords even if it has poor page rank!

Useful clues
All articles, blogs and Google tips leads me to the conclusion that the content of your website is the most important factor. Don’t try to cheat web crawlers or don’t rely only on exchange links with other websites. If the site is interesting, and content is relevenat, its PR will improve sooner or later. Yes, I know that everybody prefers sooner, but you should do it right from the start.

Some recommendations:

Attain as much external links on the website as you can, on a consistant basis. If people find something interesting on our website, they will link to it.

Create many subpages. Websites with useful content will grow either by content from author, company or community.

Existence in catalogs. Add your website to internet catalogs either related to business or technology. For technology, a good example is to at least attain an absolute minimum with, for example, www.dmoz.org and dir.yahoo.com. Even Google admits that it uses them.

Google Webmaster Tools
Just login to your Google account (or create one if you don’t have one). In the section “My Services”, follow the link Webmaster Tools. Insert url of your website and press OK.

Verification
Once you create the account, the first step is to verify that you are the owner of the website. There are two approaches. The first is adding a Meta Tag on your home page or, 2, uploading a file with a given random id inside the page root directory. It’s quick and easy – just follow the information’s on the screen!

Diagnostics
After the verification process, we can start exploring information that Google has gathered about your website. This tab allows you to check if, for example, your robots.txt file is correct, and how often the site is crawled.

Statistics
This tab shows search statistics that are related to your website. I allows you to see which pages were crawled by googlebot, what their page rank is, and which of them have the biggest value. Page analysis shows the keywords that Google has indexed. It also shows words used in external sites to link to the site.

Links
This tab is, I think, the most interesting of all. It provides a listing of all urls used in external websites , and much more related to links- even internal links too. Each link is described by number of pages that use it. You can also view details and find the paths to links that are not valid or can’t be crawled by Google.

Now you know the page rank principles! After reading this blog post, hopefully you have a better understanding of PR. Since Google is constantly becoming more popular and important for businesses looking to expand their visibility online, knowing these kinds of methods, and understanding them, are king.

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