Do you use the web as a research and shopping tool? Join the club.
In working with various business owners and individuals on enterprise social media campaigns, it has become increasingly clear that there are 2 activities nearly every modern human is familiar with, regardless of age. 1) Email, and 2) Online search.
Both email and searching online have been around for awhile, so nothing special there, beyond being super useful. They just had more time to get embedded into everyday “normal” use. Business owners, especially small to medium sized businesses, can take advantage of this by promoting discussions and deals on social networks like Facebook and Yelp. For example, Facebook has profiles specifically tailored to business. These profiles are called “Pages” and are similar to personal profiles. However, a very important difference is Pages are fully indexed by search engines like Google. Personal profiles on Facebook are private by natures, and are only minimally indexed.
Due the enormous size of Facebook, carving out a little bit of real estate on this network can provide a budding business with both online visibility and the ability to offer deals while maintaining discussions with customers/potential prospects. I’d go so far as to say that a new business should establish a presence with a Facebook Page first, then get their website going as a more long-term effort to “show up” online. It’s just going to happen sooner on a social network like Facebook, which has tremendous momentum with search engines. The lag time to show up in search results for specific terms relating to your business could be as little as 3-4 months on Facebook, compared to a new website, which might take 6-12 months (if you work it and do it right).
If you’re not familiar with long tail keyword research, now would be about the time to find out about it. Making your social network presence more “findable” through search can be accomplished by locating and using long tail keywords in your marketing copy. Really, part of any effective marketing plan today requires an online presence with long tail keywords. Or you can spend a ton of money on advertising with Google Adwords, which is another common option.
But considering the high amount of usage social networks get for deals, coupons and discussions relating to products and services, it’s important to represent your own business on sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List. Just because a business owner ignores these review sites doesn’t mean their customers won’t create an online profile on their behalf. Many restaurants and other brick and mortar shops are discovering they already have profiles, and both happy and unhappy customers have been talking about them for months. So get online, get involved. The conversation’s already been started, all you have to do is join it.