Social Media Optimization for Small Business
Most website owners are familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and know that it is an important part of their business marketing strategy. For those who aren’t familiar, SEO is the practice of optimizing a website’s presence on the internet in the interest of boosting that site’s ranking on Google for certain applicable keywords. This is important because if your site doesn’t appear on the first page of a search listing, visitors are not likely to visit your site to learn about your product or service.
Well now there is a new acronym in town: SMO – Social Media Optimization and it refers to the practice of establishing a presence on the various social media platforms. There are a lot of social media sites, but the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+. This article will discuss how business owners can leverage these free services to further promote their product or service.
How Can SMO Help Small Business?
Google recently launched a new algorithm for their search engine and it is widely believed that social media “signals” are used much more than in the older version. To put it simply, a website with a good social media presence is going to rank better than a site with none. There is plenty of technical mumbo-jumbo behind this, but in the end, as a small business owner this is all that matters. If your site is already ranking better than your competition, you can believe that they will be looking at SMO to help move up the rankings. If you are not ranking as well as your competitors, here is an opportunity to improve. SMO should be considered an important part of all marketing campaigns and it is in your interest to take full advantage of these social media platforms.
Being on social media provides opportunities to reach a much larger audience. Like it or not, more and more of your potential clients are using social media. It’s a great way to reach your audience to announce specials, new products, upcoming events, industry news and so much more. But what many business owners don’t recognize is the benefit of keeping tabs on your competitors. We usually think of social media in terms of what we have to say, but an equally important part is hearing what others have to say, whether it’s your clients, competitors or other experts in your field.
Ultimately, having a good social media presence is going to drive more traffic to your website and in turn, result in more interest in your business. Having a good website is like fishing with a hook – having a social media presence is like fishing with a net!
Blogging has always been a great way to get fresh relevant content on your site – and Google likes fresh relevant content. A typical SMO strategy will often involve a website and/or blog as the centerpiece of content, with the various Social Media platforms providing support by driving traffic to to the content on the website. For example, a shoe company might write a blog post describing in some detail the latest tennis shoes it offers. Add a post on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and suddenly there is some buzz around this new product line.
Many website owners have some sort of Facebook presence to complement their website. How that Facebook page is used varies quite a bit from business to business. The idea with Facebook for business is to build up an audience over time allowing the business owner to reach them with promotions, updates and other related information. However, many business owners will just promote their product or service in a direct way and users will often be turned off. The secret to success is to engage your audience in a way that keeps their interest. A successful Facebook presence will have interesting posts that may not be directly related to the business product or service – it may not even have anything to do with the business itself. It’s not uncommon for a business to promote a charity that it is involved with or the community in which it is located. This sort of Facebook presence builds a relationship with the audience that goes beyond selling the product or service. And when the time comes to offer a new product or special offer, the audience will be much more receptive.
Instagram, owned by Facebook is a very popular social media platform with the younger demographic but growing in popularity across all age groups. Instagram is image and video focused providing an array of post types available to users. It features some easy to use video tools and provides an easy way for business owners to make quick posts featuring photos and videos of their work, products and services.
Twitter is a great way to keep your business on your audience’s mind. Many business owners may wonder at first what they have to say. Most would be surprised at the range of information that would help their business. Some obvious uses would be to announce new products, services or specials. But leveraging Twitter as part of an effective internet marketing strategy goes well beyond this. Businesses can tweet about events and topics that may be related to the business, provide an ongoing series of tips or even tweet about something more personal. Businesses can use Twitter to build a more personal relationship with their followers. The whole idea is to foster a personal rapport with followers so they will consider your business when they need your product or service.
In addition to what you say, what you hear might be just as important. Being on Twitter allows you to hear what potential clients and competitors are up to. You can also follow industry experts and get insights into what the latest trends are in your field. Even if you find that you don’t tweet that often, it’s worth joining Twitter just to get these valuable insights relating to your business.
LinkedIn is geared mostly towards professional connections, though they would very much like to be a more mainstream social media platform. Still, depending on your business, you may want to establish a presence here. You can’t have too much Social Media presence. Check it out and see if it makes sense for your business.
The beauty of social media is that it is free marketing – well almost. It does require an investment in time and any business owner knows that time is money. Fair enough, but once you are set up and develop some habits for posting on a regular basis, you may find that Social Media provides an excellent return on investment. Think of it this way – in years gone by, when you wanted to create some buzz for your business, the typical approach would be to create some sort of print advertising campaign, whether it be newspaper ads, mailers, door hangers or all of the above. Creating the advertisement took time AND money to produce and the results were often disappointing. Well now, for the same time and NO money, you can reach a more targeted audience and create more buzz as often as you like. It might take a little re-thinking on how you reach your customers, but in the end you”ll be happy you did! If your competitors are not doing this now, then you have an opportunity to gain a strategic advantage by getting out there first. If they are, you need to start so as not to be left behind.