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Why Your Business Needs Google Plus

Small business marketing is not as simple or streamlined as it used to be, and you might be looking at your palette of social networking accounts wondering (a) if they’re working and (b) if they’re helping create a return on investment. It’s not at all a dumb question. As the years go by, businesses are finding that some social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn) are generating more buzz than others (Twitter, Pinterest). It’s important, however, not to forget Google Plus, and here’s why.

According to Social Media Today, 665 million people are on Facebook and 350 million are active on Google Plus, making it the second most popular social network. And according to the same report, the demographics are entirely different. The Google Plus crowd is a little slower, focused and more internet savvy, meaning your activity is reaching a broader market and not duplicating itself. Another thing that Google has that Facebook doesn’t is Search. Sites that are active on G+ get rewarded by Google with higher search rankings. Link to your Google Plus page from your blog or website and it helps you even more. So, if you don’t have a Google Plus profile yet, it’s a good time to do it. Without one, you can’t be linked to the Google Authorship program, which links your blog posts directly to your Google Plus profile and puts your Google Plus picture next to these posts in the search results.

Above all, it’s important to monitor your social media accounts monthly to see where your time should be invested. For example, PR and media businesses might fare better on Twitter than, say, real estate agents, while retail businesses might find the image-friendly format of Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus more beneficial. Find out where your customers are lurking and plant yourself there.

Pete Seeger Does Abiyoyo at Wolftrap

Social Media Has Gone Mainstream

According to new data from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, 73 percent of adults now use social media to communicate, with 42 percent of all American adults using multiple social networks. Yes, social media has officially gone mainstream. AGBeat reports.

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“Pew reports that Facebook is the most popular social network in the nation, with 71 percent of adults using it to communicate, rising four points in just one year. This indicates that if an adult is using a social network, it is Facebook, period. The social media giant has seen its strongest growth with users over the age of 65, as they log in to keep up with their grandchildren, children, and friends, as 45 percent of seniors report using Facebook, up 10 percent in one short year.

“LinkedIn ranks as the second most popular social network, rising two percent in t he last year to 22 percent of the adult population in America.

“What is most surprising, however, is that Twitter is not in third place, no Pinterest has stolen the crown, with 21 percent of all American adults logging in to the photo sharing site.

“With Twitter saturating 18 percent of the adult population, Instagram is rising in popularity, hitting 17 percent.

“In other words, Facebook reins and Twitter is slipping, but while 57 percent of Instagram users visit the app every day and 63 percent of Facebook users do the same, a full 46 percent of Twitter users follow suite, meaning that despite the crowds, the majority of people are loyal to their favorite networks.”

Why the shifts in social networks?

“As each social network adds features, shifts monetization strategy, and acquires technologies and talent, the landscape changes ever so slightly, and people go to specific networks based on their goals. Professional networking is still dominated by LinkedIn, for example. The truth is, however, that just eight years ago, MySpace was the most popular social network. Times change and sites are forced to adapt to keep the crowds, or die on the vine.”

Source: AGBeat

How e-Newsletters Help You Stay In Touch

Veteran small business owners are still in business for a number of reasons, a very important one being their dedication to customer service. Being reachable by prospects, clients and customers is one of the best ways to stay in business. This type of dedication creates repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. Social media, texting and email communications are great tools for being reachable and staying in touch. So if you haven’t yet adopted the e-newsletter format for your business, you might as well give it a whirl in 2014.

Here are some simple steps you can take to adopt a newsletter strategy for your organization:

Choose Your Service

A simple Google search will bring up a number of e-newsletter services (Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor. etc.) that will allow you to build and manage your e-newsletters. But do your research so that you can settle on a program that works for you price-wise and functionality-wise.

Compile Your e-Mail Database

If you’ve been on top of things the last few years of your business, you have a healthy email database of prospects, clients and colleagues. Your e-newsletter program should allow you to compile, edit and manage these lists. In addition, most programs will allow clients to opt-out and edit their settings, like if they change e-mail addresses.

Come Up With a Design

Not a designer? Not even tech-savvy in the slightest? Most e-newsletter services provide easy-to-use templates and graphics, not to mention extremely simple newsletter editing tools to put your e-newsletter together. And if you do happen to be a graphics wizard, you can go to town by uploading your own HTML templates.

Choose Your Content

A major dilemma for most business owners is what to promote across their social networking channels. For your e-newsletter, a variety of content with a clear focus is ideal. It shouldn’t be all new products, for example. Provide a little something for everyone. This could be a combination of products, industry news, in addition to trends and information about your business. Provide a little something for everyone.

Select a Schedule

Send out too many e-newsletters and people will unsubscribe. Send out too few and people will forget who you are in the intervals. Depending on how active your business is, and depending on your amount of content, you might go with a monthly or quarterly schedule. Most industry insiders will tell you that any more or less than that would not be ideal.

How is the e-newsletter different than social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter? An e-newsletter is a way to appear directly in your clients’ inboxes. This provides a clear marketing opportunity but also a risk (as mentioned above), so work with your colleagues and business partners to come up with a safe and effective strategy for 2014.

Why Blogs Boom In the Winter

Social marketing doesn’t necessarily slow down during the winter months, but blogging definitely heats up. Even though social media is still a relatively new medium, statistics make it pretty obvious that online activity increases during the winter due to people spending more time indoors. Online shopping, video streaming and gaming sites of course witness a boost in traffic, and so does blogging. Citizen journalists, real journalists and other experts have more time at the computer to craft their messages, and readers have more time to read them.

Between December and March realtors, therapists and entrepreneurs still have work to do, but they too have more indoor hours to devote to promoting their businesses online. Now we’d like to point out that reading other people’s blogs is almost as important.

The best way to generate content for your blog is to write about what you know: your area of expertise. Prospects looking for your services will find your blog via their keyword searches about your area, and they’ll return to your blog to read what you have to say about your industry and community. This way you become an authority on your subject matter (key for any blogger) and you’ll be competing directly with other agents in your field.

But every great writer is also a great reader. Reading other blogs can help you stay on top of social media trends, popular keywords and editorial approaches adopted by bloggers in other regions (or your own). It also keeps you mentally sharp and, if you comment on their blogs, it helps you build relationships in the blogosphere.

So, this winter if you get some indoor downtime and want to devote it to your marketing, think about simply kicking back and reading a blog. You can even do it by the fire.

How to Convert Social Networking Into Sales

Most real estate agents and brokers have at this point in time at least dipped their feet in the social media waters, creating Facebook and Twitter accounts for their real estate marketing, marketing video on YouTube, and so on. But the question on everyone’s mind is, “is it helping me sell homes?” In other words, is all the effort having an effect on your real estate business’s bottom line? Previously on the ReachFactor blog we covered how to measure online traffic to your website in a post called How to Track Your Social Media Metrics. But what about taking that online traffic and convert it into actual business.

According to a study by MarketingSherpa, a clear majority of leads (79 percent) never actually convert into sales. But this dilemma is not solved by gathering more online traffic but rather by interacting with potential leads until they’re ready to buy one of your listings or sign you as a listing agent.

And according to a study by Forrester Research, companies that have success nurturing leads generate 50 percent more leads at a cost savings of 33 percent. This underscores great ROI, showing that the top lead-nurturing companies are racking up the sales. Forrester Research also found that 46 percent of companies with established lead management systems in place follow up on more than 75 percent of marketing-generated leads. Add to your customer service tactics a consistent follow-up process and your real estate business might also see the numbers increase.

Do you have a solid lead management process in place at your real estate business? Let us know how it works, and we’ll promote it here.

 

 

Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Strategy

social media strategyIf you own a business with a web site, you absolutely must have a social media strategy. Your customers are already online researching your reputation and looking for your products and services. If you’re still on the fence about social media, here are some interesting stats from Inman News:

  • On an average day there are more than 400 million tweets, 500 million active LinkedIn and Google Plus accounts, and 3.2 billion likes and comments on Facebook;
  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month;
  • More than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube (that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth);
  • Nine in 10 homebuyers today rely on the Internet as one of their primary research sources.

As you look to adopt a social media strategy for 2014, here are a few tips on getting started:

What does a social media strategy mean?

It basically means (a) creating basic social media accounts for your business, (b) linking to them from the home page of your web site and (c) populating them with content.

What’s the point?

Your customers are already looking to find you on social networks, and they provide an easy (and free) medium for promoting your business, your content and your reputation.

Where do you begin?

Start small. There are many niche social networking sites, but make sure you have the basics covered on Facebook (a business page, as opposed to your personal page), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus (which might not be as popular as Facebook but is linked with Google search, which has its advantages) and YouTube.

What about a blog?

The importance of having a blog is that (a) it easily allows you to share news about your products and services, (b) its comments section allows interaction with readers and customers and (c) it provides you with a cheap and easy way to refresh your web site, which leads to higher search-engine rankings.

Content strategy: Giving something for nothing

Now comes the task of updating these social networks with content. Your content strategy is basically an exhibition of your knowledge and reputation in your field. Are you a Realtor? Share news stories about your service area, the real estate industry and whatever a prospective client might be coming to you for. Yes, you’ll want to promote your listings, but the important thing here is to give your readers some free advice, so to speak, which will keep them coming back to your web site and possibly hiring you or buying your products. If you sell products, for your content strategy you’ll want to feature new products, offer video diaries and demos, or feature sales and discounts. Also, if your products get independently reviewed, you can promote those as well.

In a nutshell, people are coming to your web site to check you out and pick your brain. Give them just enough info to satisfy that need, but not so much that they won’t need to hire you.

Maintenance

Now that you’ve created these necessary social networks, have you bitten off more than you can chew? This is the number one reason why most businesses and professionals don’t even get started with social networking: They feel like it will be a huge energy suck. This can be solved in several ways:

1. Budget the time to update your social networks: You don’t want to overload your audience anyway, so set aside several times per week where you update your social media sites with content, and be sure to update your blog once a month at the very least.

2. Sign up for a scheduling service: Programs like Hootsuite allow you to schedule your posts on Twitter, G+, Facebook and LinkedIn in advance.

3. Hire an online media strategist: For just a few hundred dollars a month, you can hire an online media consultant to handle your social networking promotions, blog posts and overall content strategy. Often they will do your web site updates as well. Considering what you normally pay in advertising, this might be worth the expense, especially if you find that print ads are not drawing customers like they used to.

Summing up, the business world is transitioning more and more to digital and mobile mediums. In other words, people are on the Internet a lot. And most importantly, the Internet is where they’re turning when they need a plumber, a therapist, a masseuse, a vacation, a pizza. You want to make sure your business is not just online, but in-line.

The Invisible Bike Helmet

Why Working From Home Works For Real Estate

How many real estate prospects sign with an agent or broker based on how nice their office is? If there’s a study, I’d like to see it. But if I had to guess, I’d say that when weighing word of mouth, interpersonal skills and track record against an opulent reception area with a designer coffee maker, I’d pick the former.

In a new article by Inman News, contributor Teresa Boardman examines why working from home is more than okay for real estate agents — that it might be the more ideal situation for this industry. Of course, every real estate agent will have their own opinion about the best way they work. Some prefer working from home or out of coffee shops, while others feel more professional and productive in an office.

Working from home became a huge topic earlier this year when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned working from home for her employees. Studies show, she says, that home workers are more productive but that office workers are more innovative. Since Yahoo needed a big innovation shot in the arm, Mayer chose to call employees back to the office. But Yahoo is not a real estate company.

According to Boardman, “Real estate agents from the same office rarely collaborate with each other. We collaborate with clients and with agents who are representing the other party in a real estate transaction. We may work together for hours and days or even weeks and never see each other or meet in person. We share information electronically and sometimes resolve problems via telephone.”

The most important question here is, what do clients think? In all the real estate agent reviews posted at reputation marketing services like ReachFactor, comments about professionalism have more to do with customer service, understanding of the market and the real estate process. Clients also like being able to reach the agent for questions. Where the agent keeps his or her files and paperclips is not a major concern.

Therefore, if you’re a real estate agent working remotely, consider it an advantage by keeping you closer to the listings and of course your customers.

Real Estate Agents: How to Sell a Haunted House

As the winds blow cooler and the leaves start falling, it’s that time of year when even a creepy house becomes attractive, especially to kids in costume. But what happens when a real estate listing falls in your lap that has everything going for it except that… well, it’s haunted?

In all seriousness, while some people are more sensitive than others to household energies, what we’re talking about here is the creepiness factor of a home. Is it next to a cemetery? Does it have a dark room with a cold fireplace? A long narrow hallway that leads to a spiral staircase that leads to… You get the picture. A real estate agent can go through his or her whole career without seeing a levitating object or spooky specter, but more than likely you have at some point or will eventually be faced with the task of selling a creepy house.

The good news is that, according to a realtor.com survey, more than half (62 percent) of the survey’s respondents said they “would” or “might” consider purchasing a haunted house. However, 88 percent said they would need a very attractive price to do so.

Are you not surprised? It’s a pretty common understanding that any home, for the most part, will sell at the right price. So, from a customer service standpoint, this is where you need to brush off your bedside manner and talk with the seller about a price that you think would make any buyer overlook the spooky stairwell or cluster of weeping willows in the front yard. Another key is to listen to prospective buyers (especially those who visit the home and decline to make an offer) and find out what price would turn their heads even slightly. All of this information can help set that sweet price that makes the offers trickle in and the sale close.

And, what to do if the home does have levitating objects or a woman in a long dress floating through the walls? Good luck. According to the survey, of the 36 percent who said they would consider purchasing an eerie home, a majority said that actual supernatural activity would be a serious deal-breaker.

Can you blame them?