Although social media is a fantastic opportunity for businesses, one of the most common problems we see is when people set up their profiles and don’t know how to proceed beyond that point. In other cases, business owners have an idea of what they would like to be doing, but simply don’t have the time or resources to achieve this.
The main problems people face usually include a combination of some or all of these factors:
• No particular strategy for posting content on social channels
• No idea where to start connecting with a relevant audience
• No time to learn how to use multiple different platforms
• No time to continuously stay active on social media
If any of these problems sound like something you have experienced, you are far from alone. Pressure to get involved with social media when you have no time or inclination can be very frustrating. However, you might be surprised how streamlined the entire process could become if you choose the right tools to help you.
Our personal favourite tool for social media management is Hootsuite. This is one of the tools we use here at 123 Ranking to help manage our own social channels as well as our clients’ who take advantage of our social media services. There is a free version with limited functionality, or you can pay for a more advanced account which supports more social media channels and offers extra services.
With Hootsuite, the main benefit is having access to all your social feeds in one place. This means you can see messages coming in, what you’ve sent out already, and most importantly, schedule future posts for as long as you like. This means you can just take a short amount of time to plan out the majority of your content sharing for the next few weeks, and just get involved in real time when people reply to your posts.
Buffer is a simple alternative to Hootsuite which also focuses on simply building up a queue of social posts to be sent out at pre-selected times. It provides some feedback and insights from each platform so you can see how successful each post has been, too.
The interface of Buffer is simpler than HootSuite because it doesn’t focus so much on choosing specific times to send out your posts. It simply fills time slots automatically as you top up your queue, so literally all you need to do is enter a series of updates and the app will handle the rest.
A lot of people are talking about IFTTT and applying a similar technique to other software. The abbreviation stands for “If This, Then That”, and in essence it allows you to use a system of triggers and actions to define a set of rules which will handle your social media for you. An example might be that every time you create a new article on your blog, IFTTT will send out an email or social media notification to inform your followers. This saves a lot of time and stops you having to go through a repetitive routine.
How does another new platform really help?
It might seem counter-intuitive to add another piece of software into the mix when your issue is that you don’t have time to get to grips with social channels. However, the benefit of these tools is that they are designed for business users who are pushed for time. Social networks themselves are designed for social users who have more time to learn the ropes, and you have to duplicate your efforts to learn how to use three or four channels.
Although you do need to understand the differences between different networks to maximise your engagement rate and get valuable results, using a single management tool can make the learning curve a lot smoother and allow you to get started faster.
Still no time to study social media?
It’s understandable that within a busy work environment, a lot of managers and business owners really are too preoccupied with other issues to take on social media. This is where we can help, since we can take the time to look at your social channels and help you get the most out of them. Not only can we keep your feeds topped up with relevant updates on a regular basis, but we also offer a wide range of other social media services to make sure you’re capitalising on all that potential.
It all starts with an audit carried out by us, and we’ll send you a detailed report on your recent social media activity. This will include analysis of what has been working, what needs improvement and what we propose we do to help you. Just get in touch with us if you’d like to know more about our social media audits and other services.
Google is one of the biggest, most successful and most universally known brands in history, which is a pretty impressive feat for a company that only rose to popularity in the last two decades. It should come as no surprise that Google is one of the most relevant brands you’ll have to understand in order to succeed online, especially when it comes to paid and organic search.
However, you might not realise the potential benefits to your business from many different services Google has acquired and developed over the years. Here are just a few core services that could really boost your productivity and profits if used wisely.
1) Organic search
Cheap SEO packages like those offered here at 123 Ranking work best if you really get to grips with how Google Search works. If you want your website to rank locally, nationally or beyond, it needs to satisfy Google’s technical requirements as well as meet its standards for quality. The more you use Google Search, the better you should be able to understand what it looks for and how to take advantage of it. Of course, we’re here to help all our clients when it comes to organic search engine optimisation.
Notoriously confusing and constantly evolving, Google+ is a tricky platform to master even for SEO professionals. However, it offers a huge range of benefits that can actively improve your business, to such an extent that you’d be crazy to ignore them. Not only does it function as a social network to share updates with your customers personally, but the real benefits come from information that feeds through into search results.
This includes your Google reviews, which may be featured prominently on Maps as well as Search. Make sure you take the time to ensure your reviews are there and saying something positive to differentiate your brand from the rest.
Paid advertising can be a great way to help your visibility on search engines even before your organic optimisation has had time to kick in. AdWords is the most widely used platform, and although it can be complex to master, you can get started fairly easily. If you need to generate traffic to your site fast, AdWords can be an incredibly worthwhile investment and the near-instant results are a rare advantage when compared against alternative digital marketing strategies.
Once you have traffic coming to your site, it’s time to focus on conversions for most businesses. Whether your goal is to sell a product, get a customer to contact you about a service or just to get some information from visitors, Google Analytics is an invaluable tool that will tell you how to optimise your site for users once you understand its interface. It provides a huge amount of insightful information; you just need to spend some time learning how to interpret the data in a way that’s relevant for your business.
Do you use an email client for work which everyone in the business accesses? If you do, and you’re not using Gmail, you may be missing a trick. Google offers some reasonably priced options for small businesses looking to smoothly integrate their own email systems with other Google services, which can be a great time-saver. Gmail itself functions perfectly as a straightforward email client, so you probably won’t lose any functionality by switching to it from other systems.
Google Drive is a great cloud storage solution for businesses, especially when integrated with Gmail. It makes it very quick and simple to share files and organise folders which can all be accessed by everyone in your team. There are many alternatives out there, but if you’re already using Google and everyone is set up with an account from the beginning, it’s an ideal add-on that many businesses don’t take advantage of. You can even use it to work on documents and spreadsheets simultaneously with colleagues, which can be hugely convenient.
There are just a few of the Google services we use on a daily basis at 123 Ranking, and we’d recommend them all to anyone looking to understand Google better or take advantage of their many tools, both free and paid. If you have any questions about Google search services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll do what we can to help!
We’ve already established that online reviews are highly relevant for potential customers looking to make a decision about whether to choose your brand or one of your competitors. In fact, research has shown that online feedback from other users has three times as much impact on an individual’s choice than the brand’s own marketing efforts. Since Google+ reviews can appear directly alongside your local business details on Google’s first page of results, including negative ones, it should be a vital part of your SEO strategy to keep these under control.
We’re already looked at different ways of dealing with negative reviews, but how do you encourage more people to leave positive feedback to balance out the bad ones and boost your average rating? Well, it’s not just about bugging your favourite customers over and over again until they give in and agree to leave you feedback on Google+ or Facebook. In fact, you might not want to ask at all – people may appreciate it if you give them some space and avoid asking them for favours. However, if you’re smart with your website design and plan your customer journey correctly, you can make it very easy for someone to choose to leave you feedback without having to persuade them at all. People are usually most keen to do this after completing a successful purchase smoothly, so you might want to consider having the option to write a review presented to them at that exact point.
If you want to improve the rate at which you’ve getting these reviews, the first thing to focus on is fixing any issues that you have already identified. Negative reviews can actually be valuable because they provide an indication of what your customers feel strongly about. Any problems that have been brought to your attention should be addressed as soon as possible, whether it’s an issue with your products themselves or a customer service problem. Once you’ve fixed the problem, you have a chance to go back to that review and tell people that it’s all sorted, which really shows you take your customers’ feedback seriously and will encourage people to air their positive comments, knowing that someone will read them. If you truly offer an amazing service to people, they’re probably going to be willing to do you a favour and leave a review.
Once you have some good reviews, it’s easier to get them to multiply. You should reply publicly to every review you receive, good or bad, and thank everyone for their feedback. Consider adding a section on your website to display some of your best reviews, or even include more detailed testimonials to provide more background information about success stories. If possible, use social media to share any good feedback you get so you’re showing your appreciation and spreading the word simultaneously. The most important thing to remember is there are no shortcuts to getting great reviews – you need to back it up with great products and outstanding service. If you get this right, however, there are plenty of benefits for you to enjoy later.
At 123 Ranking we offer we can help you more with online reviews by providing our specialist business help guides. These are included in our Rank 3 SEO package for free, along with a range of other services to help improve your online marketing efforts. Just let us know if you’re considering some of our services and we’ll be able to discuss your options in more detail.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Facebook has been established for some time now as a great platform to promote your local business as part of your local SEO marketing. Pages allow you to add plenty of relevant details so your customers can see how close you are, when you’re open for business and how to get in touch, among other things. Facebook generally likes to point out all its fancy features to you as you set up your page, and pops up with frequent messages to make sure you’re not missing anything.
This makes it rather strange that it’s keeping a significant recent development fairly quiet. With no announcement at all, Facebook Professional Services was launched a few months ago for desktop users only, although we expect a mobile version is in the works. A Facebook representative recently confirmed the features in “the early stages” of development, so it may well change soon before it becomes a major selling point.
It is effectively a local business directory with a basic built-in search engine which returns results in your local area when you’re looking for a particular service. Your search query is limited to a pre-defined list of business categories, which correspond to the categories you must select from when you set up a business page. When you choose a service to search for you’ll see a summary of each business in your area, plus snippets of reviews and other key information.
Interestingly, the way Facebook has chosen to rank different business in the results is highly personalised and takes multiple factors into account – even SEO within Facebook is getting complicated! Your average star rating from your reviews is a major factor, but it also looks at your personal connections and is more likely to show you places your friends have visited or reviewed. Although we can’t be sure, it’s safe to say your personal interests and any history of your own interaction with the page are taken into account too.
So what’s the big deal if this feature isn’t widely known about? Well, it serves as another indication that Facebook wants to assert itself as a major player for local business listings, taking on competitors such as Yell and Thomson Local. Once they figure out a way to streamline the delivery of this service across different devices, and coordinate it properly with their local map features, we anticipate Facebook business pages are going to become an even better way of getting yourself seen by new local customers.
For any business, even if you are not primarily focused on your online presence, online reviews matter. When people search for your business (or your target keywords, if you have an SEO campaign), your average Google+ rating and the number of reviews you have might show up on the first page of results. These people are going to make a judgement to compare you with your competitors, and if you have bad feedback that’s on display publicly, it’s likely to hurt your business.
Getting bad feedback online can be frustrating. Sometimes it will be as a result of a genuine problem that occurred with one of your real customers. It’s very hard to guarantee perfect service every time, and mistakes happen, so from time to time even the best businesses might have dissatisfied clients. If someone chooses to be vocal about their disappointment on your public social media pages such as Google+ or Facebook, or on review sites like Yell or Review Centre, you will want to keep a lid on it if you can.
However, it’s not about trying to censor your customers’ voices. In fact, most websites simply won’t let you do that. Instead, it’s important to get in touch with that person, reaching out to them and finding a solution that works for both parties. Whether this is public or private will depend on the context. Ideally, you should ensure people know the best way to get in touch with you directly so they don’t have to resort to public reviews in the first place!
What about unfair reviews that you don’t think are real? Sometimes customers might let anger get the better of them and exaggerate their stories, or worse still, deliberately lie to make your business look bad. In these cases the best course of action is also to get in touch with them, although this may prove difficult. Be wary of taking more serious actions, though, as they could have consequences. Depending on the situation there are several things you can try, but it’s better to get professional advice before jumping into an argument online. After all, the reputation of your business is at stake, and the way you respond to criticism publicly says a lot about you to other potential customers.
At 123 Ranking we offer a more detailed help guide specifically for helping you deal with negative online reviews. Our Rank 3 package is our most comprehensive SEO plan yet, and it includes this guide along with a range of others free of charge. To find out more about how we can help, simple get in touch with us now.