Social media such as blogs and microblogs, social networking sites, multimedia sites, review and opinion websites, and geosocial networks help establish online relationships. The most popular business sites include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Multimedia sites– such as Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, and Vimeo– allow users to share photographs and video content. You can rate products, services, and businesses online through review and opinion websites such as Yelp and Insider Pages. Because consumers use geosocial networks to show their whereabouts, businesses can reward customers who check in at their location. Users frequently link their geosocial networks to their social networks.
Blogs may display personal online diaries, commentaries, or news reports on specialized subjects. WordPress and Blogger are popular blogging websites. Microblogs are shorter blogs, generally limited to three hundred characters. Twitter is the most popular microblog website.
Social media expand your ability to reach customers and allow you to listen to them. Customers write about new products they bought, great deals they found or rude salespeople they encountered. They might blog or post about your business or brand without your knowledge. Monitor social media outlets to capture such feedback. Establish online relationships and reach out to local bloggers because they wield influence within their communities and may generate positive buzz for your business.
Google Alerts and Social Mention, among other websites, allow you to search the web for comments about your business. With Google Alerts, you enter keywords or terms that interest you and receive an alert when the program finds those terms. Social Mention searches social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter for comments about your business. You receive daily email updates, including links to the sites where consumers discuss your offerings.
Consumers post comments about businesses on review websites. Most customer reviews tend to be either strongly positive or strongly negative. On Yelp, clients rate your business with up to five stars, and these ratings influence your standing on Google. Business owners using Yelp can receive email alerts when customers post reviews or respond to comments concerning their business. Companies can post links to Yelp reviews on their websites.
To discourage business owners from writing reviews of their own companies, Yelp deletes a review if the critic does not post entries about other organizations within one month. Insider Pages allows business owners to add pictures to their sites and to offer coupons to potential patrons.
Responding To Online Feedback
Another great way to establish online relationships is through responding to online feedback. Positive comments and reviews tell you what you’re doing right. They help you attract new clients and retain existing customers. When your customers post favorable reviews, thank them.
Many business owners do not want to use social media at all because they are afraid that negative feedback or comments will cause harm to their brand. But critical reviews can be constructive if you address the critique quickly. Learn from unfavorable feedback. Apologize online to customers as you would in person. Don’t ignore bad comments. Address any concerns that clients raise in posts or tweets. Some customers won’t be happy no matter what you do. Never argue with them.
Blogs cover topics in more depth and detail than other social media platforms. Setting up a blog on sites such as WordPress or Blogger is easy. You can customize your blog and link it to other social media sites. Blogs can include different design themes, written text, pictures, and videos. However, most bloggers focus on writing. If you assign categories to your posts, readers can follow the ones that interest them most. Successful bloggers write frequently and usually publish something new at least every other day. They also change the content of their blogs, limit self-promotion and write about a variety of topics.
Your Nerve Center
It takes time and effort to establish online relationships. Pick one social media site to serve as your nerve center. Look at your competitors’ sites. Where do they interact most? Where do they post most frequently? Depending on your type of business, your nerve center may be Facebook, Twitter or a blog. Take advantage of cross-posting to multiple platforms. Facebook and Twitter allow you to simultaneously post on both. You can also add links to your blog and integrate photos and video files on Facebook.
Establish Online Relationships With Your Customers
Let your customers know where you decide to focus your social media efforts. Link your business website to your social media sites. Have customers sign up for either emails or text messages so you can direct them to your online community. Invite clients to follow or friend you on your social networking sites. Consider offering customers an incentive to join your business’ social media sites.
Interact with your customers online, and encourage them to visit your websites frequently. Customers need to know that real people stand behind your online logo and name. A win-win approach in order to establish online relationships is to engage –ask them questions, make comments and respond to their commentary. Thanking clients for visiting your business is an easy, low-cost way to reward them. As your online community builds, keep tabs on what customers discuss. If you don’t have the time to manage an online community yourself, consider having several people do it. Responding quickly is more important than responding with the perfect message.
Search Engine Optimization
Consumers look for new businesses online using search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and Google, which handles 85% of the search engine market. Enhancing your website’s search engine listing, so that Google and others find it more readily, is called search engine optimization (SEO).
Establish online relationships and increase your SEO by integrating appropriate keywords into the material on your business website, changing your website’s content, adding links, informing search engines about your website and using review websites. Keywords in your website should discuss what you sell, provide answers to consumer problems, and cite local or geographic terms to encourage nearby residents to do business with you. List your business on Google Places and on local listing directories at Yahoo and Bing to help customers in your area find you.
Find out what terms consumers use to search for your business, and include those words or phrases on your website. Adding new searchable content to your website also increases your SEO rankings. Starting a blog is an easy way to change your website’s content with minimal effort. Instead of waiting for search engines to find you, go to them by declaring your site to Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Perform a social media audit. Develop a list of competitors, pick a time period, such as one month, and compare yourself to your competitors. Measure the total number of reviews, the mix of positive and negative comments, the total number of followers on different sites, the number of posts or comments, and the subject matter of the posts.
Also, do an SEO audit. Think of keywords that direct consumers to your website. Examine how often you and your competitors use these keywords. Focus your efforts on your designated social media nerve center. Maintain a strong presence there, and regularly monitor review sites to address any negative reviews. Learn how digital marketers use SEO to drive website traffic.