At one time, a business marketed itself through ad placement and print materials. Today, businesses must reach out to customers in the very place they get most of their information: the Internet. From contact information to store hours to customer reviews, consumers heavily rely on Google search results. What do customers see when they type in your business name? Is it the image you want to portray?
In the current search engine-driven marketing environment, it’s important for small businesses to be aware of online marketing techniques in order to remain competitive. Unfortunately, for many small business owners, time is a valuable commodity. Here are a few tips to not only help you craft a strong online presence but do so with minimum impact on your time.
Use Social Media Tools
Keeping up with multiple social media accounts, along with regularly updating website content, can be daunting, considering our busy schedules. I’ve found several time-saving sites that can at least simplify updating multiple platforms. Dlvr.it automatically feeds blog posts to multiple social media sites, integrating with link-shortening service bit.ly. Dlvr.it’s reporting feature can give you insights into how your social media followers are viewing your content.
But one of the best ways to stay on top of your social media content easily is by using dashboard services. I prefer Tweet Deck, which allows users to schedule Tweets, view multiple feeds side-by-side, and manage multiple accounts in one place. To add other social media accounts to your dashboard, you’ll need a service like HootSuite. With HootSuite, you can set up columns and schedule posts for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus, and more.
Expand Your Social Media Presence
As with traditional marketing, one of the most important things about reaching out to your customers is to first understand them. What age group is most interested in your product or service? Set up a presence across multiple social media services and make sure each site includes a complete profile of your small business. Be sure to link your other social media pages on each profile page, as well as your website.
One of the best ways to increase your online visibility is to use keywords relevant to your business. Google Trends can help isolate the terms users are putting into Google each day that are related to your industry. Weaving those keywords into your posts can boost your chances of appearing prominently in searches.
Your blog and social media pages should be consistently updated to keep customers engaged. Consistent postings have the added benefit of making your pages more relevant to search engines. Editorial calendars can be great tools for planning your postings. Used for years by traditional print media outlets, editorial calendars (also called “content calendars”) allow you to plan out your postings for months, ensuring you’re promoting the right event at the right time. For WordPress users, an Editorial Calendar plug-in allows you to move items around as needs change. Services like Kapost and Divvy HQ are more comprehensive tools. But for a free and easy solution, many small businesses opt for an Excel spreadsheet or a simple blank calendar template.
Your website and social media accounts are valuable tools for reaching potential customers. With so many services available to help, you can increase your online presence with minimal impact on your busy schedule.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s.
Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business