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The Gold Bayou Blog

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How to Use Social Media to Help Your Small Business Grow

Small businesses have the advantage of an intimate relationship with their customers. From the neighborhood corner mom and pop store to the often-frequented service shops like barber shops and hair salons, small business owners get to know their customers on a personal level.

Technology has changed, but the truth of today’s business world is that the major impact of successful small business, human-to-human contact, has not. In that same manner, small businesses can use technology to expand their relationship or to discover new relationships with potential customers.

Despite the adage that technology has eliminated personal relationships, data suggests that the opposite is true. According to Mike Ewing at Hubspot, customers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.

To maximize the efforts of a social media campaign, it is important for a small business to understand its customers and how they are using social media. Obviously, businesses catering to older customers may not need as much social media interaction as a business catering to millennials. That does not mean, however, that there is no market. In fact, according to Tommy Whyer’s article, “56 percent of online adults over 65 . . .[have] Facebook accounts.”

Other forms of Social Media are not as popular among older adults. An older study at the Pew Research Center showed that there are significant drop-offs for older adults when it comes to using other social media platforms, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Therefore, Facebook seems to be the preferred delivery method for interacting with social media for older adults.

However, that is NOT the case for younger customers, meaning a true social media campaign must tap into the demographics that best fit the business’s needs. For example, teens and young adults are far more likely to engage in Snapchat or Instagram than they are to use Facebook or Twitter. Finding the right balance of demographics is the key.

So, how does a small business use social media to its advantage? Here are 3 Tips to help small businesses grow through an interactive social media platform.

1. BE HUMAN

One of the problems businesses have found in the past is that social media is not the place to sound salesy or be like another medium of advertising.

Steve Tulman’s article, “How Taco Bell Is Winning at Social Media Marketing,” mentions how Taco Bell to a holistic approach to its social media marketing campaign. That was achieved not only by connecting with its customers (more on that below), but by embracing the human aspect of social media. According to Tulman, when “a majority of the [social media] responses may might as well have come from robots,” then that social media platform “isn’t going to inspire a plethora of customers to hit the follow button.”

Indeed, not only is it important to connect to the correct demographic, but to actually engage with those customers and potential customers on a human level. It is important to learn customers’ needs and avoid social media faux pas practices like using the platform as a self-promotion tool.

2. BE ACTIVE

Engaging in social media for small businesses also is a time-consuming practice. Messages should be delivered in a timely manner. That means, by using social media, the small business will need to check the accounts multiple times each day, and then respond immediately! It needs to be part of the daily routine.

The problem sometimes comes with the responsibilities that interaction requires, including the major problem of the time needed to interact while also running the business itself. That’s where hiring an employee or an outside firm that dedicates itself to marketing online can help.

Another related factor in being active is to respond to both the positive and negative interactions. While some people may leave a ‘like’ on a company’s social media channel, most users will use it for relevant questions and service or product complaints. Therefore, being active also means understanding that social media can serve as a customer service tool that is more convenient for the typical customer than sending an email or calling a phone number.

According to this 2012 poll, 42% of those polled expected a response on social media within an hour of posting. While that may not always be a realistic amount of time to respond, know that customers’ expectations may require the small business owner to be quite active, especially when the business is looking to grow its base.

3. GIVE CUSTOMERS A VOICE

Again with Taco Bell and how it has become a model for social media, even for small businesses. In Lisa Lacy’s article, “The Taco Bell Guide to Social Media Dominance,”  she points to two factors that made a huge difference in how successful Taco Bell could be n social media. For one, according to Lacy, Taco Bell listened to its fans and adapted its social media towards what its fans want. Another large factor is that the product is the message.

Even though Taco Bell is a large corporation, it used the act of involving its customers in a manner beyond simple customer service. Taco Bell approached social media like it was one of its own fans. For example, instead of taking the perfect shots of food that we often see from fast food restaurants, Taco Bell started to show real shots of food and how it looks when the consumer sees it. Not that perfect tortilla shell with measured dabs of sour cream, cube-shaped tomatoes, paper-shredded lettuce, and evenly-browned ground beef.

More importantly, Taco Bell involved its customers, showing them consuming and interacting with the products and brand. That’s where small businesses can better understand how to help their own businesses through a similar plan. If indeed 71% of all new sales come through word-of-mouth and social media sharing, showing customers interacting, consuming, using, participating in, or any other activity related to the small business can only help to push their goal of growing the business.

RESULTS

There are multiple factors when it comes to marketing a small business. In years past, before the explosion of the internet, especially related to social media, marketing was as straightforward as advertising. Word of mouth was helpful but limited because people dod not have the same access to each other that we have now. Now, it’s as easy as a sentence and a click of a mouse or a push of a smartphone button to send that same word-of-mouth information out to multiple people simultaneously.

For a small business, understanding the value of social media must go beyond thinking of social media in simplistic ways. Social media can be a powerful tool to truly grow a business when used correctly. From getting more people interested in the business to factors such as search engine optimization (SEO), more interested eyes, thus potential new and repeat customers are available through a properly-channeled social media effort.

Search engine optimization has also been affected by social media. However, according to Google’s Matt Cutts, likes and retweets do not factor into where a website will rank in a search, there are other SEO factors.

Among those factors, customers who share information about your company can lead to more people attaching a link to your website or social media. According to the article, “What are the SEO benefits of social media?” that means “those views of your content on social media will result in other content creators citing your content in their articles. Your content has just earned links, which has a direct impact on search rankings.”

Links to a small business’s site starts to build brand authority, which further helps in the right people finding that business, thus growth. Social media is almost a must in developing a business persona, helping more people learn about and engage with a small business, and building a brand that will last.

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LeeHow to Use Social Media to Help Your Small Business Grow
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3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to Ditch Yellow Pages Ads NOW

Quick poll. When was the last time you opened a phonebook or used the Yellow Pages? I mean a real, physical phonebook. Don’t remember? Well, I bet you’re not alone.

And yet, in my experience as a digital marketer, I can tell you what the biggest advertising pain for many small businesses is. It’s that they are stuck in the old, intimidated by the new.

And they still use Yellow Pages.

Granted, some small businesses are still living in the past. They have no website, no social media, and no intention of entering the digital age with their business. This article is NOT directed at those businesses. Word of mouth and the physical Yellow Pages ads they buy are probably all they want or need.

This article IS for those businesses seeking more customers through the media (Hint: mostly smartphones!) that customers use.

Ever heard the term “sinking ship”? Well, based on data, the Yellow Pages’ ship should have sunk many years ago. However, clever as can be, that same company has switched its marketing tactics, promising small businesses Google success and other marketing promises that they cannot possibly deliver on.

According to the Consumer Affairs site, the Yellow Pages score quite low in customer satisfaction. In fact, review after review after review shows the same story that small businesses deal with when agreeing to use Yellow Pages as their main marketing firm: the Yellow Pages just doesn’t work.

In my dealings with small businesses in the area, I have received “no” or “maybe in the future” answers from potential clients for my Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing capabilities because of the Yellow Pages. All of those businesses have expressed the same pain. Basically, business owners tell me, “I’m locked into a contract with the Yellow Pages, so I can’t afford any other marketing right now.”

When I press them about how well the Yellow Pages works for them, I also get the same answer. “Not very well.”

Although not all marketing packages through the Yellow Pages are the same, there are some things that are evident. Here are 3 reasons why it’s time to leave the Yellow Pages in the past where it belongs.

 1. The cost for small business is excessive compared to other forms of marketing.

If you think you’re getting your advertising money’s worth with the Yellow Pages, think again. In fact, you are paying almost double the cost of the simpler online services they use.

For example, the average advertising cost for ONE customer to call from the Yellow Pages’ created phone number is about $10 per call. For service businesses, like electricians, that cost per call may be worth the cost if other services in that industry only use the Yellow Pages to generate business.

However, for businesses looking to gain an edge on their competition and get more of the right calls coming in, putting money into the Yellow Pages could have been used in other ways. For example, purchasing cost-per-click services directly from Google. Or, boosting posts on Facebook or other social media accounts.

Likewise, a business with a website and a few more bucks invested into actual digital marketing campaigns will reap a lot more reward than the $10 per call costs of the Yellow Pages.

Although I could not find definitive rates on Yellow Pages pay-per-click advertising, I do know this: a single keyword is targeted for the paid advertisement. However, a legit Search Engine Optimization plan can target many more keywords and make them feasible for your website or paid advertising campaigns.

That leads to the second reason to shrug off advertising in the Yellow Pages . . .

2. In the age of smartphones, the Yellow Pages have become redundant.

The initial poll question was not meant to be rhetorical. However, it was made to make you think about how inefficient the Yellow Pages is today. Yes, the Yellow Pages has moved much of its marketing plan away from the physical to the digital, but at what benefit? Still, its marketing plan is the same as the old style:

  1. Your small business purchases an ad.
  2. People look up that business through the Yellow Pages and contacts a business, maybe yours.
  3. You either can or cannot help that customer.

Sprinkle in a little of the new advertising plans, and you can find out when a customer called through the Yellow Pages because they track data. In fact, not only do customers have access to your actual business phone number, but Yellow Pages will provide two or more tracking numbers based on your advertisement plan.

Of course, those numbers forward automatically to your real business phone number, so it makes no difference. Well, except for the approximate cost of $10 per call through the Yellow Pages-provided number. Does that make sense? Of course not. It’s just another way that the Yellow Pages has become redundant in its own marketing plan, costing small businesses hundreds of more dollars per year than they should when those businesses could have invested their marketing budget into digital marketing and reaped more benefits.

Which leads to the third reason why the Yellow Pages is not good for your small business . . .

3. It hurts your business’s SEO. The advertisement targets one specific keyword group. And it creates a second web page.

Here’s one more way where I discovered the Yellow Pages digital plan is working contrary to its promises. Stop me if you’ve heard this one from their marketing salespeople:

“We can make you #1 on Google.”

Well, the Yellow Pages could possibly do that, but as many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts would attest, it is IMPOSSIBLE to promise a #1 ranking on Google. Well, unless that promise is a false one. You know, a lie.

Yellow Pages is actually hurting businesses that already have a website for ranking higher in multiple ways. For one, Yellow Pages will create a mock website for your business. This website will include pertinent information about your business, like your business location and the Yellow Pages-provided business number used for tracking data.

That’s great! Except it’s not! What that mock website does is to cut into your SEO opportunities, actually HURTING your business’s rankings on Google and other search engines. That’s because you have TWO business websites. And since those websites have some identical information, like contacts and company mission statements, Google and other search engines might be penalizing your business’s website.

How can the Yellow Pages deliver on its promises to make you “#1 on Google” when its own SEO plan is counterproductive? Answer: it can’t!

CONCLUSION

There is a lot more evidence out there why the Yellow Pages is just as relevant as rotary phones and VCR players. The fact is that Yellow Pages survives on the name alone from a time when it was a useful and necessary advertising option.

These days it just means that small businesses are throwing away their advertising bucks. They could have been using that same money to build a mobile-friendly website with the proper search engine optimization and then connecting that to a useful social media account that gets actual results, not promised ones.

So smart small businesses in the 21st century should ditch the Yellow Pages now. Get off that sunken ship.

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Lee3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to Ditch Yellow Pages Ads NOW

Small Business Owners: 3 YouTube Hacks to Bring Your Business to Life

Small business owners, do you ever wonder why your business seems to be stale, even though you’re really excited about your business? As a small business owner, I feel that what small businesses are missing is their own personal touch, something YouTube can offer.

Melanie Moore explains in her article “6 Tactics for an Effective YouTube Marketing Strategy” that some methods of selling a product are more effective than others. She notes that YouTube has sparked a lot of the viral successes of people, which relates to the selling of products. Moore also points out that only 9% of small businesses use YouTube, meaning there is a larger general market waiting for small business owners.

IMAGE found at https://socialdraft.com/tag/video-marketing/

In Joydeep Bhattacharya’s article, “6 Powerful Ways to Improve Your YouTube Marketing Strategy,” he points out that YouTube has more visitors than Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram combined. Bhattacharya notes that it is important for there to be a long-term plan for a YouTube channel which will improve the page’s visibility. In his six ways, Bhattacharya focuses on the site’s integrity. Instead of choosing “click bait” and other off-putting means to get people to visit a YouTube channel, small business owners would benefit in good, effective search engine optimization methods.

Therefore, to maximize your small business, you need the following THREE YouTube hacks to help bring your business to life.

  1. Find Your Niche: With a whopping 9% of small businesses using YouTube regularly, you probably offer a product or service that can be useful to people. Use that advantage to help more customers, whether locally or in a wider scope, find your business and help them understand directly what your business offers.
  2. Use SEO Strategies: Create page and video descriptions that link back to your website, include your contact information, promote your company brand and products, and include compelling content to attract customers.
  3. Call to Action: Use the YouTube videos to get current and potential customers moving. If you show a product, teach them how to use that product, and then offer them a place to go to buy that product. It’s up to you to direct your viewers where you want them to go next.

By employing these three hacks into your small business’s YouTube site, you are sure to increase your customer base through the human element.

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LeeSmall Business Owners: 3 YouTube Hacks to Bring Your Business to Life
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Reach the Right Audience

It isn’t as simple as having a website. You also need that website to function its main goal: getting customers to buy your product or service.

For a small local business, you want customers in your area to find your site. For example, what good is it for a user in Portland, Oregon, to find your bakery when you serve customers only in Tampa, Florida?

The idea behind reaching the right audience is based on how well your site makes it easier for them to find you and then showing them why they found the right site. 

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LeeReach the Right Audience
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WHAT THE FLIP IS ‘SEO’?

In 10 words or fewer, define SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps customers find your business online.

But I’ve got Google for that!

Yes, and part of what SEO does is to help your business show up higher in Google based on a number of factors.

I love Craig Rootman’s graphic with all of the services SEO entails. In it, he lists 12 functions of SEO. I’ll focus on those under an umbrella of three. 

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LeeWHAT THE FLIP IS ‘SEO’?
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5 REASONS WHY YOUR SMALL BUSINESS NEEDS SEO NOW

DO YOU NEED SEO FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS?

Yes, you do! Simply put, SEO is an important method in building your business online.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not a new practice in the digital marketplace, but it is an important factor in helping your business to succeed. SEO, simply, helps the RIGHT customers find you online when performing searches online.

Search Frustrations

Have you ever tried searching Google for something you were looking for and couldn’t find the right answer? It’s frustrating, right? Well, the same may be said of your business. What if you had your site made in a way where people looking for your type of product or business found exactly what they were looking for?

Small businesses usually compete at the local level, meaning their major competitors are not big companies, but other similar small businesses in the area. SEO can target that small business competition, finding the right path for your business to get quality results when people search for it, whether they search for your business on their computer or mobile device.

5 Reasons Why You Need SEO for Your Small Business NOW:

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Lee5 REASONS WHY YOUR SMALL BUSINESS NEEDS SEO NOW

If your business is struggling to reach the goals you set out for yourself, why wait to add SEO to it?

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Leefrom “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Now”