Social media is a hot topic on the lips of all business owners! Many are wondering how to best utilise social media as a marketing avenue. If you’re thinking about this too, come along to my Social Media for Business workshop in Cairns on 2nd December 2010.
I will be covering all basics, so if you’re not sure how to start off your social media life, come along and I’ll walk you through it.
The workshop is being hosted by DEEDI, and costs just $33. To attend, download the registration form and follow the instructions on the form.
Social Media topics covered:
• Developing an easy social media strategy
• Best websites to concentrate your efforts
• Using Facebook for business
• Using Twitter for business
• Examples of companies using social media well, and badly.
Leave a comment if there’s something else you’d like me to cover. I look forward to seeing you there.
Today I attended a TTNQ function to explore the newly created digital strategy blueprint for the marketing of Far North Queensland through online channels. The comments were generally positive, and the mood at the function was one of satisfaction and warmth.
TTNQ have strongly adopted the recommendations of the Kleinhardt Research Report, and have dramatically changed their online strategy.
1. They’re rolling out a new main website to live at cairnsgreatbarrierreef.org.au to replace tropicalaustralia.com.au.
2. There will be many mini-sites to tackle niche topics such as Cairns attractions (cairnsattractions.org.au) and Port Douglas tours (portdouglastours.org.au).
3. Tourism products will be invited to host video on the TTNQ website, and this video can be embedded on their own website. The new website will be very video-centric.
4. TTNQ will operate 6 webcams around FNQ and invite members to purchase at a discount their webcam system, thereby having a product branded webcam on the TTNQ site.
5. Social media network marketing including Facebook and Twitter presences will be outsourced to social networking specialist firm, Mudo Media.
6. Travel product content will be updated by operators through a username and password, and initially propogated by the DCM Res database. No more ATDW content.
7. News feed of local travel-related news will appear on website from Cairns.com.au.
8. Commission-based bookings will no longer be taken by the site. Direct links to operator websites will be provided.
9. There is no current funding to support a PPC or Google AdWords campaign.
What are your thoughts on this strategy, and how can it be improved.
September in Cairns bring back our first taste of the humid summer to come, and this September has certainly given us a reminder of the workout our air-conditioners will be having in the months to come.
It also brings spring… flowers, mating birds and cleaning. Your website needs a spring clean. So what’s on the spring cleaning list:
1. Check out 5 competitors’ websites.
They don’t need to be local, just businesses doing the same things as you. Have a good look at the information they give to their customers, and what features your website could incorporate.
2. Update your content.
Read every word of your website, and check it is still relevent. It might surprise you what has changed in your business since you last changed your website text!
3. Start a new website section.
Business blogs are popular at the moment because just about every business dreams of starting a newsletter to connect with their customers. But this isn’t the only section you might add… perhaps take the temperature of your customers and listen to what they’ve been asking of you. Usually the parts you need to add are the enquiries you recieve from customers the most frequently.
4. Change your look.
Websites change their design too infrequently. To keep your customers on their toes you should do a little change to your image every year, and a big change every second year.
5. Sell Something.
Start generating a revenue stream through your website if you’re not already. Service-based business could try selling their expertise through an e-book or online adjuct to an offline service. Retailers should have more than just their store location and opening hours – get some product online, even if it’s only a small sample of what’s in your store.
Did you get that title?
The past two days I’ve noticed a number extraordinarily long domain names… they’re a bad idea because they’re very hard for your customers to remember.
Domain names should be as short, snappy and memorable.
If you have a long business name, consider dropping non-essential but common words from your domain like services, the or solutions.
You could also consider using initialism, although you do need to be lucky in registering those. For example if your business name is The Hurley Brothers Real Estate you might consider the following domain options:
But you wouldn’t consider TheHurleyBrothersRealEstate.com.au. Definitely too many words.
WEB 2.0 is a trendy new IT term glossing the front page of business magazines. While I usually detest the use of jargon, web 2.0 is exciting, has intelligent business applications, and is a whole lot of fun.
Most of us have already had some involvement with web 2.0 websites. As far as definitions go, consider a web 2.0 website to be an interactive one. It encourages collaboration with its visitors, usually by allowing control of content. At a grassroots level, web 2.0 allows for everyday people to have more power on the internet by openly sharing their opinions and creative endeavours.
These websites have changed the shape of how people use the internet through mass interactivity. Many users swear by these tools and believe they’ve helped them organise their life. Many businesses also believe they waste a lot of time, but that’s
another article altogether.
The two biggest social networking websites are facebook and MySpace. Essentially, both websites allow you to create a profile and then control the information that exists on these profiles. LinkedIn is a similar concept, but concentrates more heavily on the business community.
If you’ve never looked at facebook before, now is a good time to start as it has begun allowing businesses and organisations to have profiles. This can give outstanding exposure to your events, new product releases or other interesting developments happening in your organisation. Best of all, it’s free.
Now that most people own a digital camera, we wonder what to do with all those pictures we’re taking! Picasa and Flickr try to address this problem.
Both websites allow you to manage and upload your digital photos and display them publicly or privately for others to view. There are great benefits here for sharing with family and close friends but for some selected businesses, there are marketing opportunities as well.
These photo tools are great for travellers researching holidays and you can bet there are people searching for ‘Cairns’, ‘Great Barrier Reef’ and ‘Port Douglas’ to see other people’s holiday snaps.
If you have a business that can be showcased through great photography, consider uploading some of your best photos to further promote your products through this avenue.
It seems even the smallest business has a blog these days. Essentially, a blog allows a business to add newsworthy snippets of information in a quick and easy to read format on a website.
For your customers, blogs provide a fantastic feature called a comment. This allows anyone to leave a message against your articles, ask questions or share experiences.
Many of these web 2.0 websites are large global ventures but there are plenty of small business applications too. The whole concept of web 2.0 surrounds giving your customers and website visitors more power through interactions. But to come up with great ideas on how your customers can interact with your products and services, you really need to stop being frightened of the internet and spend some time learning what other people are doing with it.
Think Geek (thinkgeek.com)
Allows customers to add photos of themselves using the products they have listed for sale. Anyone who submits an action shot enjoys 10 per cent off their next purchase. Customers feel chuffed they got a photo on a website and of course, the company benefits from future sales generated through the discount.
Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au)
Encourages readers to leave comments on news articles to gauge public opinion on current affairs.
Website visitors post messages against recipes which provides fantastic feedback to future cooks on how to alter the recipe for new delicious versions. Its discussion forum also allows keen cooks to share ideas and is a wealth of information on family recipes and tips.
The benefits of allowing your visitors to interact with your product online are immense. Brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and viral marketing are within easy reach using web 2.0 concepts.
Promoting your website is no longer about banner ads and reciprocal links – the web has grown up. While there are many ways to spend your advertising dollars online, there are also plenty of ways to tap into the community of the internet and take advantage of the free opportunities to spread the word about your business. Here we take a peek at the free promotional avenues you can tap into but you might not have realised their significance.
This is the most important free promotional technique for all websites. Search engines are responsible for 85% of the average website’s visitation, which means if you’re not well placed in the engines you’re missing out on a lot of customers.
Here’s the quickest way to get your website ranked well:
1. Think of the keywords your customers will search for to find you.
For example, if you consider the tourism industry in Cairns an owner of an apartment complex in the city might consider the following keywords;
cairns city accommodation
cairns self-contained apartments
cairns family accommodation
2. Include these keywords in your website text
The search engines will not rank you for the keywords you want unless you include them in your text. Ensure you include them in a natural way using proper English. Here’s an example of a paragraph of text using the keywords above:
Cairns Oceanview Apartments offer self-contained accommodation in the heart of Cairns city especially well suited for families and couples travelling on a budget. Only walking distance from the popular attractions on the Esplanade, Muddy’s Playground and Cairns Central Shopping Centre our Cairns apartments are the perfect accommodation choice for your tropical holiday.
Search the web for directories which focus on particular industries, such as tourism, education or finance. You may even by lucky enough to find very specific directories for micro-industries such as managed apartments or English schools for example. Think about the many terms people use to describe your industry and search for these.
Most businesses belong to trade associations or professional bodies which feature member listings. Ask for a link, and ensure you’re listed appropriately.
Avoid directories or bodies which solicit your business for upgraded listings as they are generally not well enough trafficked to be worth the while. Very large directories often provide very little actual visitation to websites listed within, so spend money carefully. Instead look for niche directories which operate in a specific sub-industry or location.
The more websites you are listed on, the more credible your business appears to search engines and to customers. Search engines will repay you by listing you higher for your keywords the more websites that link to you.
Many of us write mini-articles everyday in the regular emails we write to our customers and our clients. Consider making these a more formal article and submitting them to other companies for inclusion in their newsletters and on their websites.
The usual policy for such an exchange is that other websites and newsletters can reproduce the article only in its entirety, without modification, and includes the author’s by-line and a link to their website at the bottom of the article.
For those of us who already write articles consider posting these articles onto your website as well, and include a note that allows others to republish your article without specifically seeking permission as long as the article is left entirely intact. This allows your articles to more quickly be distributed across the internet.
Consider newsworthy events that happen in your business and consider submitting them to print and web periodicals within your industry. Links from news and media sources are favourably considered by the search engines and are poised to boost your website even higher in the search rankings.
Press releases also have the added benefit of making your business appear dynamic, changing and expanding which encourages others to do business with you.
Blogs work incredibly well for establishing a regular visitor base to your website. Most business people offer regular industry comment to clients and associates, and a blog allows you to get this content out to a wider audience.
You might be surprised how simple this suggestion is – but I still need to search high and low for some business’ website address (URL) despite having their business card and brochure in my hand.
Don’t make potential customers look for you. Print your everywhere your phone number is: letterhead, business card, envelopes, flyers, brochures, emails, outdoor signage etc.
To aid readability, I recommend excluding the http:// part of your web address and just including the www.domain.com.au part instead.
Business owners send hideous numbers of emails each day – email is reported as the most common form of executive stress.
Help combat this stress by knowing that every email you send is promoting your business and encouraging people to visit your website.
One of the reasons many people are attracted to the internet is because of the vast number of forums, blogs and online communities of people with very specialised interests. Tap into the areas in which your business exists by seeking out your peers and competitors online and finding where they exchange information.
Respect the culture of these discussion groups by not openly spamming advertising throughout the posts, but instead offer valuable contributions and information to the people asking questions. Ensure you include a signature at the bottom of your posts which links back to your website.
Regular visitors to these forums will gradually trust and recommend your business provided you do not aggressively market your business or overtly plug your products.
Many businesses display testimonials on their websites and this is a great show you support local businesses. Ask that your testimonial include a link to your website, and ensure you include a company logo so it may be included with your testimonial.
The end result is another link to your website, and credible support of a business transaction.
This encourages repeat business so people can find your website again easily by just checking their list of favourites. It’s simple, quick and free.
There are lots of other free ways to promote your website, but a common theme throughout most of these ideas is involving yourself in the online business community.
Unless you become familiar with how the online customer thinks you may never tap into how to make money out of them, or establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Do you have any other ideas? Submit them as a comment below.
1. Start a blog.
2. Tell people about your website.
3. Put your web address in your email signature.
4. Start a Google AdWords campaign.
5. Give a testimonial to a business you’ve recently dealt with.
6. Write an article for someone else’s website.
7. Start an eNewsletter.
8. Write more keywords into your web copy.
9. Ask other websites to link to you. Ask nicely.
10. Post comments on other people’s blogs.
11. Participate in online forum discussions.
12. Find relevent directories to post your website to.
13. Ask you customers to tell other people about your website.
14. Provide unique content people want to read.
15. Create a Facebook profile for your business.
16. Become a twitter.
17. Invent a gimmick that people will talk about.
18. Approach a business to link to your website.
Do you have any ideas to add to this list?
Search engines don’t care what your website looks like. In fact, it even seems to prefer the ones most people would believe are old and in need of a re-design. Why is this so?
Google uses the text on your website to determine what you will rank for. It’s a major determining factor.
Google can’t read images. So it doesn’t matter how beautiful your sunrise picture is, or if you’re smiling on your corporate profile page.
Google isn’t fond of flash. Anything that moves, wiggles and blinks doesn’t contain a lot of information, so Google doesn’t look at it as seriously.
Google loves headings. Break up your text into logical pieces with headings on each. Don’t scrimp on this.
Google loves copy. The more text you write and the more pages your website contains will reward you with great rankings. Put important text up the top.
Google hates copiers. Don’t steal other people’s text. It doesn’t belong to you, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole yours!
Small businesses, just by their size, have an air of uncertainty about them. Help your customers make the decision to do business with you by showing off your strengths as a small business:
Remember customers and businesses hide behind the anonymity of the internet. People will be happier doing business with you if you’re transparent, honest and keen.
The text on your home page is the most important text on your website.
Your home page not only leads your visitors into the money-making parts of your website, but it also provides the most important terms search engines will use to rank you.
Without text on your home page you’ll fall behind competitors in the search engines, and annoy customers who’ve come to explore your site.
Consider the most important words you believe your customers will type into a search engine and ensure these are included on your home page. This might be your location and industry, like cairns web design, or it might be the product you’re selling, like tennis balls.
Summarise your website on your home page by including useful paragraphs and snippets about what information can be found throughout the website. Invite people to explore further through strong calls-to-action.
Most importantly, don’t let your web designer build you a home page with just images, and no text.