“Frustration” – that’s a word frequently by those in companies new to social media and those who have been involved in social media but have yet to enjoy a return.

There are several problems. First, establishing a social media presence takes time and continued effort. You have to be consistent in your involvement with the social media medium and remember that returns will not be overnight. Second, you have to make sure that you are using social media in a way that makes sense for your business.

If you are not sure, ask yourself these simple questions:

– Are you using the right platform?

First, remember that there are a variety of social media platforms for you to consider – most notably Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Further, within these platforms, there exist variations on the theme. For example, in Facebook, you can have a “Page,” a “Group,” or a “Community.” Each variation has its own set of tools, purposes, and capabilities. In addition, you may decide to participate in several social media platforms at the same time. For example, if you have a fitness center, you may want to use your YouTube channel to publish videos on how to perform exercises or tapings of classes you offer. Use Facebook to build a sense of community through candid photos, listings of hours, available classes, and upcoming events.

-Have you scrapped past attempts?

You also need to remember that whatever you take on has to be maintained and updated regularly. This can take up valuable time and people resources. While it can certainly be worth it in the long run, remember that consistency is key. If you do not think you will be able to maintain various platforms (or you have already started and stopped using a platform) be sure to erase or delete those accounts. Otherwise, you stand the risk of eroding your brand value when a customer (current or potential) stumbles across your forgotten Bebo account. Instead, make sure that what you have is the best it can be and do away with anything that you are not actively using.

– Are you providing the type of information and interaction that your audience wants?

Ask yourself what it is that your audience would want to read, not what you want to tell them. Providing discounts or having giveaways can be useful, but you have to have more substance than that. Consider posting facts about your company, the brand, or its products. Think of the tidbits of information you encounter everyday that make you stop and say, “Really?” Examples include fun facts about how long you have been in business, what happens “behind the scenes”, why your business operates as it does (e.g. why Yoga class was cancelled on Tuesdays, why you do not serve poppyseed bagels, why you buy local, why legal documents are presented in blue card stock), etc.

– Are you listening to your audience?
Likewise, are you listening to your audience? When they make a post, do you respond? Do you stay on top of when your company is mentioned on other sites, blogs, social media, etc., and make relevant comments to that affect (on that site and yours)? Remember that social media has developed because of the continued interaction it affords. Its purpose is not to simply broadcast, but rather give people a voice in things they would otherwise not be privy to.

– Do you allow them a voice?
Similarly, make sure that you give your audience a voice. Ask open-ended questions, run surveys and polls, include them in new product decisions, etc. – the more things like this you do, the more valued your audience will feel. Remember that interaction is a large part of a successful social media campaign. If miss out on this, you may already be out of the game.

Local Internet Marketing is a key part of growing your business and brand, to attract local consumers.
Local Internet Marketing isn’t just about having a website, it includes being findable in multiple places when local consumers are looking for your product or service. A Local Internet Marketing Consultant can help you determine the best route for your online marketing plan.

Posted in Uncategorized by Brian Grant. 1 Comment

Long Island Marketing – Facebook a Time Waster?

I am sure you have heard of social media and you probably wonder how you can use it to market. Maybe you experimented with Twitter and checked out your kids’ Facebook profiles. It looks like a good way to keep in touch with old acquaintances and for college students who want to make sure they’re all at the same bar next Friday. But why does any of this matter to you or your business?

Social media is an increasingly important asset for businesses to get found by and interact with potential buyers on the web. Think about the way you personally get information these days. When researching a product or service, less and less of your information is coming from “traditional” media sources. How much are television ads, radio ads and newspaper influencing your decisions. Do you even see TV ads anymore with your DVR recording your favorite programs?

It’s much more likely that you ask a friend or check a search engine for information about what you are searching. Today people have gotten very good at ignoring the traditional media adverts and instead go to Google and social networks for answers to their questions. The question for your business is: will you be there to answer it?

Facebook is not an evil time-waster( although it can be), a community just for college students, or irrelevant for marketers. Facebook is a means for connecting people with those around them. Long Island marketers have an opportunity to use Facebook to expand their online footprint and engage with customers directly. However, it’s often difficult to figure out what you should be doing, and sometimes more important, what you should not be doing.

So, I’m going to go though a brief primer for using facebook for your Long Island marketing plan.

Business Goals for Using Facebook:

  • Get found by people who are searching for your products or services
  • Connect and engage with current and potential customers
  • Create a community around your business
  • Promote other content you create
  • Setting Up Your Facebook Profile
    You should create a personal account and start making connections and sharing information. Fully completing your profile will help in future efforts. Make sure you read privacy policies and use the facebook settings to properly control your privacy.

    Personal Accounts vs. Business Accounts
    On Facebook, Profiles are meant for people and Pages are meant for businesses.
    Do not create a personal profile for your business. If you do, facebook may shut down your account. Facebook is building new functionality for businesses, and all of this functionality is only available to Pages.

    There are a few key differences between Business Pages and Personal Profiles:

  • Pages allow you to have multiple administrators to manage the account. Profiles are for one person only.
  • Pages are, by default, public and will start ranking in Facebook and public search results. Pages are split into different categories (local businesses, brands, musicians) that help you get listed in more relevant search results. Profiles can be private or public depending on settings.
  • Personal profiles have friends, which require approval by both parties. Anyone can become a fan of a Page without first going through approval.
  • Worried about privacy? Facebook is very flexible in letting you control what is seen.

    Promote your Page
    Now that you’ve built your Long Island Marketing Page, you need to get some fans. Here are a few ideas to get started.

    Run a Contest on your Page
    This is a powerful tool to generate new fans quickly.

    Use Your Existing Personal Profile
    Using your personal profile you can encourage friends from there to join your

    Promote with Your LinkedIn
    LinkedIn is another great option to use to get expose for your Page

    Promote With Press Releases
    Create a Press Release to announce your new Page.

    Use YouTube for your Facebook Page
    Youtube is a great place to promote your Page.

    Promote In your Email Signature
    Put your Page in your email signature and use it in any forums you might be involved.

    Advertise on Other Peoples Websites or Blogs
    You can create Banners and have other people help you promote your Page.

    Facebook Advertising
    Facebook Ads are created right through Facebook and can be a very
    effective way to promote your Page. These ads are not free but can be targeted to a very specific audience based on information they provide to Facebook!

    Word of Mouth or at Live Events
    Make sure to add the link to your Page on you business cards, and brochures. Invite
    people to join your community.

    Craiglist and other classified sites
    Use the ‘announcement’ section of Craislist or backpages.com and post a FREE classified ad pointing back to your Page.

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    Posted in Uncategorized by Brian Grant. No Comments

    YouTube: How Popular is it?

    Do you enjoy using the internet as a source of entertainment? If you do, there is a good chance that you know what YouTube is. In fact, you may even be an active member of the YouTube community, as millions of internet users are. With so many YouTube member and site visitors, there are many individuals who wonder what exactly it is about YouTube that makes it so popular. If you are one of those individuals, you will want to read on to figure out just why.

    Perhaps, the greatest reason why YouTube is so popular is because all that you can do on the website. For instance, if are looking for entertainment, you can choose from an unlimited number of YouTube videos, many of which you are sure to love. If you want to do more than just watch YouTube videos, you can even make your own. YouTube allows all registered member to post an unlimited number of videos on their website. Whether you want to create a video blog, a comedy skit, or an educational video, you can easily do so.

    Another one of the many reasons why YouTube is so popular is because it is free to use. Any internet user can simply visit the YouTube website and start viewing videos. Although it is advised that you register for a free YouTube account, isn’t required to watch YouTube videos. With that in mind, however, if you would like to rate videos or leave comments and upload your own videos to YouTube, you will need to register for an account with YouTube. As previously mentioned, registering for a YouTube account is free and it will only take a few minutes of your time.

    When it comes to uploading videos onto YouTube, it is relatively easy to do. That is another one of the many reasons why YouTube is so popular. Even those with a minimal amount of computer experience can make and share videos on YouTube. All you really need is a video recording device, such as a cell phone with video recording capabilities, a camcorder, or a webcam. Most computers already have movie editing software programs installed, but you only need to use movie editing software if you would like to edit your video before sharing it with the YouTube community. When it comes time to upload your videos, you just need to follow YouTube’s uploading instructions and then your videos should be available for viewing within minutes.

    As for watching videos on YouTube, it was stated above that you have an unlimited number of YouTube videos to choose from. This is another one of the many reasons why YouTube is so popular. No matter what you like, whether it is romance, comedy, or educational pieces, you should be able to find whatever you are looking for on YouTube. Popular YouTube videos include video blogs and comedy skits. Finding videos to watch is easy as well. YouTube allows you to browse through all of their videos or you can perform a YouTube search to find something in particular.

    If you have yet to give YouTube a glance, you are urged to do so. With almost 25% of all internet visitors visiting Youtube according to Alexa. It’s ranked as the 3rd most popular site on the web. The possibilities for marketing your Long Island business are tremendous.

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    Posted in Social Media by Brian Grant. No Comments

    Blogging for Long Island Business

    Blogging sounds like alot of work…
    Should you even bother?
    Will it help your Long Island business?

    It’s certainly a marketing tool that can work

    Take a look at some of the reasons why…….

    Your can highlight your new sales and specials.

    Why wait until somebody walks into your door to tell them about your new new product or service.  Let your blog work for you and get them in your door.   You could write a post detailing the most common questions about the problem that your product or service solves.  Detail how you have the best solution for the problem your product solves.

    This will affirm your integrity to your loyal customers and clients who experience the quality products and services you provide.  It will also make prospects see they should work with you because you have their best interest at heart.

    A blog gives your Long Island business personality and uniqueness.

    People like doing business with other people not faceless corporations. Your blog is your local business’s “name and face,” and gives you the ability to interact with clients on a more personal level.  Alot of times, the more personal they feel their relationship with you is, the more often they’ll chose you over the guy down the road.

    Establishes your authority in your industry.

    Demonstrating your expertise is a great way to use your blog. Discuss the problems that your customers face.  Offer solutions and how-to posts related to what your sell.  Dont’ make it too promotional. The idea is to connect with the customers and show your knowledge of the field.  You could write a post of tips and tricks to help your customers.

    The more you educate, the more you establish yourself as a leader in your field, and the more you build trust.

    And trust is the key to loyal clientele.

    A well-run blog can highlight your retail store and balance out review sites.

    If your customers all love you and say so on the review sites, that’s great. Your blog will help to clarify that message.

    But if you have an occasional nut, or even someone with a legitimate complaint, having an active blog gives you the chance to present what makes your long island business such a great choice.

    Helps your local business show up higher in search engine rankings

    Google loves active blogs. Even one post a week is all it takes to move you up in the rankings. Which means your next customer finds you, not your competition.

    Increase referrals and word of mouth marketing.

    All it takes is one great idea and one post about it on your blog to increase awareness of your local business. If it gets picked up by others, it can go viral and generate a buzz about you.

    You can also actively encourage referrals by highlighting your customers on your blog.  Make them local celebs by showing the amazing results they got with your product or service. They will often reciprocate by sending people to you.

    Local blogging gives your  clients and prospects a “say” in  your business.

    By allowing your customers to comment on your business they fell more of a connection.  Maybe set up a poll of your blog readers, asking what they like in your shop, don’t like and want to see more of in your local business.

    You might be amazed at the things they will tell you they want to spend money on.  Some may be things you have not thought of that they buy from your competitor.

    And once you have whatever they want in, you can announce it on your blog.

    When you give your customer and clients what they want, they’ll know you listened to them, feel like they had a part in making your business great and be excited to hand you money.

    Blogging is a way to show  your involvement in the community.

    People want to work with business that are active in the community.  If you sponsor a Long Island little league team or donate to the local food bank, let your clientele know in your blog.  It can help people connect to your business at the same time promoting a good cause.


    10 Myths About Blogs – Scott Rosenberg

    Social Media Blows up – More Users than Ever

    In a news release this week, Artbitron/Edison released it’s newest study about consumer use of social networking sites. I find the results a bit shocking. I have watched the social media grow and expand but the numbers are huge. And more important it’s not just kids anymore.

    The study shows that 48 percent of Americans age 12 and older have a profile on at least one social site. And use by key demographics are growing, with 65 percent of 25 to 34’s and 51 percent of 35 to 45’s creating personal pages.

    “Social networking has become a part of mainstream media behavior,” said
    Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research.

    so it’s even more important than ever to include some sort of social component in your internet marketing plan going forward.

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    Build Links to your site – Maybe it will go viral

    A strategy that you most likely have seen discussed, even if you are fairly new to the world of SEO, is link building. If you are new to the world of internet marketing and are looking to get your local business seen in the search engines, here is a quick rundown of link building:

    The theory behind link building is authority. The ultimate goal of the search engines is to deliver relevant results for every querry by a user. There are many ways that the search engines determine when to show a site. Links are belived to carry the most weight.

    Links are a way to get from one page on the Web to another. They can show up as text that is underlined and/or a different color, or sometimes as an image. The anchor text, link label or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink.

    Ok, so why are links important? Think of links as word of mouth refferrals in the offline world. The more you have the better your reputation will become and more prospects will come to your business. But wait, there’s a bit more to that. If your get a referral from a satisfied client that may be a very good lead. But, if you picked a lead out of the phone boook, it’s certainly won’t be as hot.

    Going on the premise that the search engines strive to provide the most relavant results, it makes sense that links that are closely related to your field or geographic area would be better than links from sites that have absolutly nothing to do with your site. Also important is the anchor text. If related to the content of the site it is linking to, it should carry more weight.

    Here is a strategy that uses the viral nature of the web to bring bring you quality links with high relevancy to your site. The idea is to provide valuable ‘link bait’ to your site with a tool that’s cool to use.

    This tool plays on the emotions of pressing issues in 2010.

    Fuel a near to record highs with predictions to spike again!

    The economy is hurting. Foreclosures are at all time high. People are downsizing and moving further away to live a similar lifestyle.

    Global warming is all the rage on the news. Ours cars spew too much carbon gas.

    The following tool plays on the emotions of your visitors with the above pressing issues and provides a solution. Perfect “link bait” for people to link to your ‘tool’. But, its better than that, you actually want people to rip off your tool and put it as “link bait” on their site. When installed from your site, it’ll provide a solid link, with your desired achor text. Not too bad for a days work.

    Once they install the tool from your website, they will get instructions by email on how to promote the tool both traditional and online means. This means they’ll have “link bait”, others will download the tool from their site, and guess what? You also get a link from people that download from their site!

    Check it out. Try the tool yourself or visit Cost of  Transportation

    Is your commute to work costing you an arm and a leg? If you are thinking about moving or just
    want to see how much you’re spending driving around Long Island. See if it pays to
    tele-commute or move your job. You will be surprised how costly it is just getting to work.

    It’s more expensive than you think!

    Volume/Distance Units?
    Current Cost of Fuel

    Commuting Details
    Current One Way Commute Distance (Mi)
    Work Hours per Week
    Commutes per Month
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    Annual Gross Income (more info)

    Add More Commuters (more info)

    Add this calculator to your site. Download it here.

    Local Shoppers Depend on Online Media

    The internet is truly becoming part of everyday life.  According to a tracking study done by BIA/Kelsey and Conmstat, nearly 97 percent use online media when researching products or services in their local area.  This is broken down further to the types of media that consumers are using.  90 percent use search engines, 48 percent are using internet Yellow pages, 24 percent are using vertical sites and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.

    Even more telling is the number of places a consumer will search online.  The average number of places a customer searches is up to 7.9 sources when shopping for products or services in their local area.  That’s grown from 6.5 sources in 2009.  So, it looks like consumers are taking more time to make a buying decision.  This makes sense in today’s economy, with consumers holding onto their money more and wanting to make the right decision with whatever cash they choose to spend.  Showing up in multiple search engine results is key to getting more leads.   Optimizing your site for multiple keywords is essential.  No more than three keywords per page.  Look for another post on that.  But, it’s also important to have a presence in the local directories as well.

    Local business need to keep these results in mind when developing their local marketing plan both online and offline.  Obviously, it’s a mistake to ignore the online marketing potential.  In fact, not developing an online presence can put a business at a significant disadvantage.  Customers are looking for different ways to interact with businesses.  According to the same survey, 58% of respondents are using online coupons.  Even making appointments online is increasing, with 19% booking and appointment other than a restaurant reservation.

    This is developing into significant opportunities to get your local business in the minds of potential customers.  By using coupons and making available a booking engine on your site, you can increase customer interaction and improve lead capture.  By utilizing numerous avenues online to list your business, you will show up more in the Search Engine Results Pages and more times on each page if you are diligent.

    Navigating the Review Sites for Local Business

    welcome to the democracy of the web.  I am sure by now, you have come across reviews online.  Whether it’s for a local restaurant or the doctor down the street, the review sites are here to stay.  More importantly,  they are making an increasing impact on where you get seen on the web and what your reputation is the in real world.

    Hopefully you are not one of the businesses that has gotten one of those reviews from a disgruntled customer who wants to vent their frustration.  Many sites don’t give the owner a chance to respond and that is not sitting well with the small business community.  Some have taken matters into the traditional media outlets and created some change in the position of sites that previously did not allow rebuttals.

    However these review sites do serve a useful purpose for the consumer.  Their popularity is growing quickly so it’s a good idea to get your head out of the sand and figure out how to navigate these sites.  It comes back to plain old customer service, taking care of your customer right the first time, and making sure manage that unhappy customer before he tells 10 people he can’t stand your business.   Unfortunately for the owner who does not manage that unhappy person, he can now tell the whole world. 

    The key is to be proactive and make sure you get the word out on your business.

    Getting listed on the major sites and ensuring that your profile and business information is up to date and as accurate as possible is a good start.  Some of the sites to look at:

    Yahoo Local
    Google Maps

    Find the address or URL of any of your listings.  Use it to promote the site for positive reviews.  Let your loyal customers know about it.

    Make sure you respond to any negative reviews if possible and try to make things right.

    There are many ways to leverage these sites to your advantage.  Brainstorm and I am sure you will think of more.  Or, hiring a local agency like Long Island Marketing House can make the whole process simple.  Do it yourself or hire an agency, either way, ignoring these sites could be to your detriment.

    Google Maps

    Claiming and completing your Google map listing is the first step in getting your business into the Google Maps 7-pack.  This is the group of 7 listings that show up when google determines that the search term has local intent.  If you don’t show up in these 7 listings, you will be in the “more results” and not likely to gain any notice.

    If you do manage a decent listing in the 7-pack by just claiming and completing your listing, don’t get too complacent.  Soon, your competitors will see the value of being in the 7 pack and the battle will begin.  Maybe they will even hire a local marketing firm like ours and then they spot can be in trouble.

    There are a bunch of factors that google looks at when picking the 7-pack.  The true formula is not known of course but through testing and trial and error, we know some of the content that will help.

    A few of these items are citations and reviews.  Here is a quick review of what they are.

    First, let’s look at citations.  A citation is when your NAP (name, address, phone) is mentioned on another website.  They don’t always have likes leading back to a website since lot’s of businesses don’t have websites.  Google sends it’s spiders through the web and when they note your NAP, you get credit.  How much credit is up for debate.  Was it found on an unrelated site?  A local site? Maybe a related category site?  Google may take those factors into account but how we can’t really say.  What makes sense is plain old marketing.  The more relevant the sites google finds your NAP on the better it is for you in developing trust.

    ou can get citations in many different ways.  Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com infousa.com are just a sample of the many directories out there that may help. Obviously the goal for citations is to have more and better quality than your competitors.  But there should also occur in a natural way.  A bit at a time.  Thousands of citations just showing up and google may frown upon it.  ONe of the most important things to consider is consistentcy.  Your NAP needs to be the same across all citations for them to have the best effect.

    The next big local item is reviews.  Right now it does not appear that google is loking at the quality of reviews but just quantity.  From testing and seeing others results, it looks like lots of reviews will outrank lots of citations but with google, it’s all subject to change.  The reviews can come from numerous sites and goolge will often put them into the map listing itself.  A few of the revies sites you may want to pay attention to are Yelp, JudyBook, Yellowbot, Cityvoter, Citysearch, Yellowpages,  and Kudzu. 

    Managing your reviews is a huge part of reputation management now.  It’s easy for anyone to jump on the web and hit you with a poor review on many sites.  It’s key to get your good customers posting for you and answering the bad reviews.  The biggest Don’t is faking reviews, this will ultimately end up badly for you.

    Coupon use increasing, opportunity for Local business

    As more and more people are online and moving their daily lives online, we see an increasing use of digital coupons.  A recent report from coupons.com shows that online coupon growth is outpacing print by 10 to 1.  In 2009, coupon use actually increased for the first time in over two decades.

    Yahoo! reported that searches for coupons was it’s top economic related query in 2009 surpassing stimulus plan, unemployment and cash for clunkers.

    Local businesses should consider using  coupons – both digital and printed – as part of their marketing strategy.

    A few Examples of ways businesses can leverage coupons in their marketing plan:

    • Add a promotion to a coupon site such as coupons.com
    • Offer their coupons exclusive to fans of their Facebook or Twitter profiles.
    • Include coupons in direct mail campaigns
    • Put on the back of business cards or menus
    • Offer coupons with google

    Partnering with other local merchants is even a possibility.  Combining coupon offers if the products or services complement each other also know as horizontal marketing.  For example, a  chiropractic office promoting with a local gym.

    The opportunities are endless, the most important thing is offering a coupon.  Recession-minded customers will appreciate them and will often return the favor with repeat business.