Whether you have a local shop, manage a brand, or sell a product, your online profile may be one of the most important factors for your business. By following these 5 easy steps you can have a good handle of your online profile and you can make sure your potential customers get a great first impression of your business.
When trying to promote your business online you can get really confused and overwhelmed. For small business owners this overwhelm and confusion either leads to wasting a lot of time doing things that aren't at all beneficial to their business growth, or to not do anything at all. Both are not what you want when your potential customers are getting an impression of you everyday whether you know it or not.
If you follow my five steps to promote your business online you should be able to present a great first impression and start taking control of your brand.
Once you have this under control, you can try a multitude of lead generation techniques to get more customers in your door. But first things first, lets get you a great first impression.
1. Create and Optimize your Google my business page
The first and most important thing for you to do after your business website is live, is to take ownership of your business on Google by creating your Google My Business page. This process also creates your business's Google Plus page. While Google Plus on its own is not a very popular social website for individuals, it still provides great value in connecting and promoting your business online.
When it comes to local businesses Google has placed a great importance on having as much information as possible so they can present the best and most complete information to a mobile searcher.
From Googles perspective, if someone on a mobile phone is looking for a type of business, not only does Google want to present them all the possible options, but they also want to present them all the information about those options. By offering the address, phone number, driving directions, pictures inside and outside the business, pictures of the products and services offered at that business, business hours... they are able to give their user the best user experience.
Think of what you want to know when you are searching for a business like your own online. That's the information Google is trying to present to it's users every time they search for anything. That's the information you need to present in your Google My Business Profile.
The great thing for business owners is that Google needs help gathering this information and so they have basically given us an invitation to put the best information about our businesses in their database. It's crazy that so many businesses don't take the time to create this great impression.
So when a user searches for Hair Salon while they are in Encino CA, on their iPhone, Google will present the businesses in that area that meet the search query but at the same time they will highlight the companies that have gone the extra step and provided all the necessary information to present the user with the best information. And as business owners we have the ability to put that information in the Google database.
More than 50% of google searches are done on mobile devices and have Local Purchase intent
That's a lot of potential customers looking for businesses like ours and ready to buy today! So it's our job to make sure we provide the best possible first Impression to users that find us on online. Whether that is through a mobile map search, a yelp review search or a simple google search while they are near our location. We have to make a great first impression.
2. Optimize and manage your Yelp page
Once you have Google my business set up you need to claim your business page on Yelp! In the same way that Google wants all the best information about your business so does Yelp! The more professional you can make your profile on these two platforms the better.
Tip: Images are probably the most important! High quality images that represent your business are the best to upload. Try to highlight the top things about your business. For example if you are a restaurant and everyone loves your Sunday Brunch, that is definitely something you want to highlight in your profile and with images. Online and especially on a mobile device a picture is worth more than a thousand words.
The other great thing about yelp is that it gives you an opportunity to connect with your customers, both the happy ones and the bitter ones. The second part of that statement is what scares most business owners about Yelp! but if you look at it in the right perspective it can be a benefit.
Treat Every Complaint with Respect & Courtesy
No matter how petty or unreasonable you think the complaint is, you have to remember that everyone will see how you react to it. If you are courtious and genuinely want to help the customer to solve his problem, your potential customers will see that. That courtesy is a plus for doing business with you, and don't worry if the complaint is really ridiculous your potential customers will see that too. Try to answer quickly to show other customers you are proactive about making things better. Try to steer the conversation into a private forum like email or phone call and off the Yelp platform to find a solution.
If you need help in learning how to use Yelp! to connect and positively communicate with all your customers I'd love to help.
Once you have your Google my Business and Yelp page optimized you will want to make sure to link to them from your website and any social media profiles that you may have. Also make sure you link them to each other.
3. Own your name across the web
Next you'll want to set up all your social media accounts with your brand or store name. Since Google+ was already set up with your Google My Business set up, you should focus on setting up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, & YouTube. Use the same email address and try to get the same username that you used for Google. This will make it easier for search engines to connect that all these accounts belong to the same user. Use the same images and information that you used to set up Google and Yelp and again try to make your profiles as professional as possible.
Once your profiles are set up make sure that you link all of them to each other and that you link them all to your Yelp and Google pages.
4. Make sure you have your NAP correct everywhere on the web.
NAP is an abbreviation for Name Address Phone Number. Remember how we said to use the same information on all your social media accounts that you used on Google. That meant your address and phone number as well. Seems obvious that you would always use the same address and phone number, but the reality is that sometimes we get lazy. In one account we use the word Street in another we use the abbreviation St. California in one and CA in another.
This is a big no no, it is important to remember that you need to use everything exactly the same. When search engines look at local listings sometimes they get confused and think the same business is 2 different businesses based on the inconsistencies in the address or phone number. That confusion can cause you to lose rankings in the local search engines which in turn hurts how many customer you can get your business in front of. So make sure you keep it the same everywhere.
As part of this exercise you should make a FREE account on Yellow Pages.com. Do Not advertise there and Do Not pay for an enhanced listing. What you want this free listing for is for one thing, a link to your website.
Most people just search Google or Yelp when looking for a business, so advertising or paying for a special listing is not worth the money.
Lastly, you want to think about the fact that your business may be added to local directories all over the web and even if you did not add your business to a directory it is important for you to make sure your NAP is correct on all of them.
You can search all these directories yourself or hire someone like BrandSavvi to do it for you. And id you are the DIY type you can use a tool like MOZ Local to do the work for you.
5. Figure out what social media platform your customers use and make that your main social media channel.
Once you pick that one social media platform you can promote your content and products through that channel. Optimize your social content for this platform and make sure you try to build the audience on that platform.
Social media is a time consuming and expensive undertaking. Trying to look great on all the platforms at once is almost impossible without a lot of automation and a big budget. I recommend you put your budget and time into one platform and the put all the other social accounts on automatic posting.
For example every time you post to your Facebook page automate that that post be re-posted to Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram,etc. You can purchase access to tools like Hootsuite or you can hire someone like BrandSavvi to handle this for you.
The big take away from this article should be that your most important profiles are Google and Yelp! and that the other social channels are more like your TV commercials for those 2 properties and your website.
Let's face it customers will find your business through search, and check your reputation from reviews. Once they are customers they will interact with your business on another social platform. So it is important to make sure new customers get a great first impression of your business on Google and that they find you have a great reputation on Yelp! Then once they create a relationship with you, you can cultivate that relationship on another platform like Facebook.
Learn where your customers are and go there
Be weary of jumping on a new social media site or App unless you know your audience is on that platform. For example a brand that is geared towards young customers below age 20 can get traction by targeting SnapChat, but a life insurance company would be better off marketing on Facebook.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand the 5 things you must do for your brand online. If you need help or would like BrandSavvi to just do this for you make sure you get in touch with us.
As a bonus for reading all the way through, make sure you download your copy of our Social Profile Checklist, its a worksheet you can fill out first to make sure you have everything you need to fill out your social profiles. Fill out the worksheet first and then you'll be ready to get your social profiles up quickly.