Being social online can really help a small business find new customers, chat to old ones and get the word out about what they do and what they are about.
Being social is about being human, if you think of the web as one big party then you want to be there chatting, helping and quite often having a laugh with potential customers. You really don’t want to be the one that turns up late to the wrong party and then bores everyone telling them stories and tales all about you.
First Find The Right Party
Where are your ideal customers hanging out? Are they on Linked In, Reddit, facebook, pinterest, youtube, twitter, or instagram?
If they are on all of them it would be a good idea to choose a couple of places to start with and party well, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
If you don’t know where they are, have a look at where your competitors are hanging out and see how well they are doing.
Also, use the search facilities on these platforms to see how many people are chatting about what you do or the products you sell.
In the real world if you turned up at the right party you wouldn’t stand in the middle of the room and start shouting who you are and what you do. And it should be the same in your online social world too.
- Start following people that talk about things that would interest your potential customers and share their content. Be generous and do this without expecting any return.
- Reply with relevant comments and new useful information to their posts.
- Have a laugh and join in the fun, be yourself. It will all help make your small business more social.
- If you get it wrong, apologise.
- And share items, about your business that show the human side. It could be a photo of you all packing up orders, drowning in a sea of boxes, you and your stand at a local fair or sharing you using your products.
How To Use Social Media Automation
When you run your own business it is hard trying to do it all and managing your social media accounts is quite often low down on the list of priorities. There are a number of tools that you can use for free that will help you monitor and evaluate social accounts.
Currently I use hootsuite but I have also used sproutsocial and tweetdeck.
You connect all your social media accounts and can then monitor what everyone is saying about you. Plus you can follow those in your industry and monitor keywords that could be relevant to you and your business.
It cuts down the time you need to keep up to date, you can also schedule posts which is very useful for when you know you are going to be busy or when you are on holiday.
However don’t go mad on using automation as it is obviously not very human. It would be like you sending a recording of yourself to the party to be played every hour – most people are going to turn you off and they are very unlikely to stand there and tell the recording that they would love to do business with you.
Use automation wisely to get an important message across but don’t just use it.
There is a lot to be said about standing next to the most popular person at the party, sharing a joke, maybe even a glass of wine and having a laugh.
I had a funny twitter conversation last week that has been bugging me. It all started when someone asked what were the best traffic sources to attract more traffic to wedding sites and since I look after one particular wedding site, Cheap Wedding Solutions, I felt I was in a good place to share my experience.
So I shared the usual; search engines, facebook, twitter and pinterest and left it at that. However, quite a few people couldn’t believe that pinterest was that useful,
they couldn’t see the point
I know, shocking! Well probably only shocking if you have started using pinterest.
For those of you that don’t know, pinterest is a social site where you share your favorite images and you pin the images to boards that you create.
For pinterest to help drive traffic to your site you need to have a lot of images. It works really well for gift sites, weddings, interior design, gardening, cooking, babies, fashion, hair and beauty, sport, books – life basically. If your site is about life then it is a good idea to have a pinterest account.
Pinterest also works really well for coaching, marketing and business advice – just think of all those inspirational quotes on fab images and infographics. Most things can bee made into an image.
How To Set Up Your Own Pinterest Account
- Go to pinterest and register with either your facebook account or with an email.
- Set up your account as a business account as you will then be able to use the analytics to see which of your pins are the most popular.
- You will then be asked what you are interested in which will personalize your experience and show you images within those sectors.
- Next, go to your profile and add new boards themed to your important keywords.
How To Attract New Followers & Traffic
If you are using pinterest to gain new followers, fans and ultimately more traffic and customers to your website you will want to pin images that you know they will love.
Here are my top tips to get lots of new followers
- Add the pin it button next to all your images on your site, so visitors can share them for you.
- Pin great looking images from your site on to themed boards
- Pin other peoples images to your boards
- Like other peoples images and leave comments for them
- Follow people that are pinning similar images to you.
- And then repeat!
As you use pinterest more, you will start to be invited to pin to other people’s boards, definitely accept the invites as you will then be able to share your images with their fans. But just like all social media, keep it real and pin other people’s images too.
If you need help setting up your pinterest account and boards, or you would like someone to help you build your followers as you don’t have time, please get in touch.
If you have a facebook fan page for your website or blog you may at some point want to add a new tab to the top of the page. It’s perfect if you have a newsletter or an offers page then these would be great to add as a link from your facebook page.
Here is one client’s facebook fan page with their new custom tab for their newsletter sign up.
The great thing is it is fairly easy to do yourself, honest! I use the Woobox App to do this, most of the features are free but some more advanced ones you will need to pay for. The instructions below won’t cost you anything.
Step By Step Instructions For Your Own Custom Facebook Tabs
Step 1: Go to Facebook and login as yourself, and install the application. Install the page tab (see image below)
Step 2: Choose the Facebook Page you want to install the tab on – this will be available in the drop down box at the top and then click “Add Tab”
Step 3: Setup the newly installed page tab so it can be shared, click on the Edit link (top right of the top box) and you will see all of this, with your website details in!
Step 4 This is where you fill in all of your details and you have a few options
- you can redirect your fan to another page
- add your website page to your facebook page – I use this for newsletter sign ups
- Add your own html – this would be good if you wanted to add your own personal welcome message
- Or they could see an image when they click on the tab – could be good if you were showing a flyer
Don’t forget to add a new Tab image, this will need to be 111px wide by 74px tall. You could create your own image on your own graphics package or use a free web based package like Picmonkey.
And then you can save your settings.
If this is the first time you have used this App on facebook then you will need to autorise it to manage your page – this means that you will be able to edit the tab. There doesn’t seem to be a way round this, which is a bit annoying.
To make sure everything is as you want with your tab on your facebook page it is a good idea to open your page in another tab so you can refresh and make any changes that you want before you exit the App.
If you have any problems with this, or would much prefer someone to do this all for you, please get in touch.
What is SEO?
SEO or search engine optimisation is considered by some a dark art and not something that us everyday folk need to know about or could possibly understand. But if you have a small business online, free traffic from the search engines is a big bonus, but remember it isn’t the only way to get traffic.
And that is all SEO is, telling the search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask for example what your website is about and also telling them how great your site is too.
As search engines are not real people (seriously, there are not little people running around the internet finding what you want) they need to know in a fairly uniform way all the important information about what you do. They send their spiders out instead to find out all the information about your site and pages, they are not real spiders either. So much for dark arts and potions involving spiders legs!?
SEO In The Past
A couple of years ago telling the search engines about your site was really easy to do; you filled in the boxes with the title of
your page, chose the best keywords for your page about what it was about, placed those in as many places as you could on your page, added the keyword to your title, your description of the page, described your images in the alt tags with the same keywords and then linked to that new page using the keyword in the description. Phew that’s a lot of keywords!
However things change, search engines especially Google change their algorithms and all those sites that had over optimised are now penalised.
But if you still want that free traffic from the search engines you still need to tell them what you are about, but in a very real and authentic way, not in a BIG shouty way.
So, still choose your keywords carefully, look for those that have a reasonable demand and not much supply. More on that in another post. Place that keyword in your title, add it once to your description in a normal way so it makes sense and also once in your keywords data, plus use the keyword on your page of really interesting and unique content.
And that is really important your page needs to be very unique, in your own voice, relevant to what the title and keyword are and it has to answer the question that your visitor wants to know about.
Of course just filling in the right boxes is not going to suddenly bring you oodles of traffic from the search engines, but it helps to have everything in place!
How Do You Get More Traffic?
Traffic will come to your site when your page is shared on social media, linked to in emails, and when another site links to your article and page telling their visitors how great you are.
When the search engines see all of this activity on your site it sends them the signal that you are worthy of sending some of their traffic. They can tell that your page answers visitors questions and will send you traffic that is looking for that information.
It is really important to keep the buzz very real too, here is my list of dos and don’ts;
- don’t pay anyone for hundreds of links back to your site
- don’t pay for likes and followers to your social media accounts – they won’t come and buy or interact with you
- don’t exchange links with everyone you have ever met – link to sites you think are worth linking to.
- don’t write loads of articles for article sites for the link back to your site
- don’t add your site to a ton of directories
- don’t write thin content
- do write great content, that is unique
- do answer your visitors questions
- do share your pages on social media and be active on social media
- do add your own unique images
- do write attention grabbing titles and descriptions to make people want to click and read more
Social Media Plays A Big Part In Traffic For Small Business Websites
Search engines do change their algorithms a lot, they do this so that their results are the best they can be to ensure people carry on using their search facilities. There is no way that anyone can know what they are looking for exactly so don’t spend hours trying to. Believe me it makes your head hurt!
Instead make sure you have the basics in place – all of your meta data filled out and then write great content that you know people will want to share.
Social media is the biggest free tool small businesses have to bring traffic to their websites, and having a plan in place will really help to bring more people to your site. Plus search engines do monitor the activity of a site on the social media channels so it is a double win.
One of the sites I manage the social media for receives hundreds of very interested visitors every day from Pinterest, definately worth checking out if your site is very big on images.