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5 Basic SEO Strategies

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Search engine optimization (SEO) may not be part of the social media, but if you're creating or maintaining a blog, it may be particularly helpful for your business. Online portals like Google and Bing help give visibility to business using SEO. In the end, knowing the tricks these search engines use can help you create a sale for your business. Here are some basic SEO principles to help your site.

1. Tracking
If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if something is successful? The easiest first step is installing Google Analytics. It’s free for basic functions, so once you get used to various features, you can determine whether you need the paid version. Just try it out and start looking at conversions today.

2. Keywords
Determine keywords that fit the business and services that you provide. Utilizing keywords within your content, including tagged photos, is the best way to optimize your site. Since Google and Bing algorithms do all of the work, it won't cost you anything!

3. Site Map
Clean up the structure of your site. Don't overwhelm search engine crawlers with too many bells and whistles. While some sites use Javascript to give the site a sleek look, search engines can't read this design, meaning your website won't be visible to your potential consumers when they run a basic search.

4. Landing Pages
Creating targeted landing pages for services, products, or FAQs provides visitors answers to their search inquiries. Your homepage is certainly key to your business because it’s the introduction to your brand, but it’s not the only page to worry about. Providing a range of landing pages means your business will be optimized for search engine ranking and obtaining consumers.

5. Links
Structure your links. Make sure your content is strong and your pages are specific to what you are talking about. Example: www.yoursite.com/press_release/May_2012. Failure to provide specific links to content, or having links unrelated to the content itself, doesn’t help your SEO ranking.

Though these tips are helpful to remember, the bottomline is that if you don't provide strong content that showcases your business, services or products, the best SEO optimization will not bring people back to your page. Be sure to keep content creation in mind as much as these technical specifics!

How to Protect Your Online Reputation

Social Sonar - Friday, January 04, 2013

Sharing stories with friends and family is something people have always done. We discuss our relationship issues, career goals, and customer service experiences. Now we have the ability to let everyone know on social media, including strangers, what we have encountered. 

The issue many businesses find is that feedback is given anonymously. As business owner, you have to question the validity of feedback. Is it a consumer who genuinely wants to provide information to improve your service? Maybe a former employee? Perhaps a competitor looking to take business away from you? A bad review can hurt your business and ensure potential consumers will question whether to support your establishment.

Whatever the circumstances, you have to protect your online reputation. Here are a few tips to ensure you're looking out for your brand.

Listen

It's important to know what people think of your business, from customer service to products. Set up Google Alerts, which send an email any time your brand is mentioned online. Provide an area on your website where people can get in touch with you to leave feedback so you can recognize a potential issue early.

Respond

Some sites allow you to reply to your critics. It says a lot about your business if you answer a negative review with a polite or even positive statement. This will not only let the reviewer know you're paying attention, it will show potential consumers feedback is welcomed and addressed.

Encourage Positive Publicity

It's true you can't make everyone happy, but what about the customers who already enjoy your business? Rally your loyal supporters to get online and share their great experiences. Ask customers if they are willing to give a testimonial for your site, and provide them with your Facebook url so they can spread the good word there.

Establish Standard Policies

If you have not instituted a customer service policy, you may want to create one now. You want to make sure your employees understand the necessity of great customer care. Train them on how to speak to difficult clients. Everyone who works in your business should understand that each customer experience is important. You're building a brand and need to develop excellent communication lines between your employees and your customers.

It may seem time consuming at first, but the constant feedback can create the kind of buzz that will only benefit your business. Being aware of what is being said about your business will provide insights to improve and grow.

3 Unconventional Ways to Engage Social Media Fans

Social Sonar - Saturday, December 29, 2012

We often talk about growing your fan base, but how can you  do this without running contests or paying for advertisements? You want to increase conversation, but you don't want to repeat the same tactics until they grow ineffective. Here are three outside-the-box ideas that can help you engage and grow your Facebook fan base.

  • 1. Crowdsource

  • Jeff Howe coined this phrase in 2006. He described the idea as "new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”
Basically, crowdsourcing is asking your fans to offer suggestions on how to solve or address an issue. It’s a perfect method to obtain information from your target audience while making them feel they have a say in how your business is run. 

This might be simply asking them to vote on a specific product or category. For example, if you own a clothing store and have two dresses that are identical, but are different in color, you can ask your fans to vote between the two. Whichever color gets the most votes will be carried in the store. 

  • 2. Spotlight Your Employees

  • Your brand isn't just about products. It helps your followers build a relationshop with your business if they can get to know who is helping run it. Adding this personal touch brings approachability to your brand
  • Remember that good customer service can help create positive buzz. Who better to highlight than the people directly in contact with your customers? Acknowledging an employee can also help your brand get exposure to their friends and friends of friends. 
Try spotlighting an employee once a month, or even bi-monthly if your company is large. You may see resulting growth in your Facebook fan and Twitter followers. You'll likely also find your employees feel more appreciated.

  • 3. Reveal New Products or Services

  • Fans love to know the latest and greatest for your business. Showing off upcoming or unusual products or services can help give your company a boost in sales. You can start off by teasing your fans. "Tomorrow we'll show off something new and exciting. Come back at noon to see our newest addition."
You can show off a small portion of the product photo and say something like, "Once this photo gets to 50 likes, we’ll show you the rest." Get them excited for what's fresh. 

You don't have to be a big department store or name brand to use any of these innovative ideas. Whether your business is big or small, you need to engage and build a relationship with your fans.

3 Reasons to Start a Loyalty Program

Social Sonar - Thursday, December 13, 2012
Frequent Shopper Stamp

Many shoppers belong to several loyalty programs that allow them to acquire points, money, or merchandise. Big chain stores have been implementing this easy marketing tool to establish customer retention. Small business might assume that these programs will cost too much to implement and maintain, but their benefits can be greatly underestimated. Here are some reasons why you should kick off 2013 with a loyalty program.

1. Return Customers

If a shopper knows they are building up for incentives, they'll go out of their way to support your establishment. It's nice to think that if you get 10 cups of tea, you'll get one free. Chances are the customers who enroll or take part in the loyalty program know that they frequent your business and would benefit from the program. Its an easy sell.

2. Easy Implementation

You don't need to make your loyalty program complex. It can be as simple as stamping a card and having the customer fill out a form with her name, email address, and birth date. Or you can create a program where cards are swiped or scanned and allow for points to accumulate. Your choice is just a matter of budget and time.

3. Targeted Marketing Efforts

If you have a special promotion, or maybe even an event, you'll be able to communicate with the right audience. Maintaining a marketing database will ensure you are talking to consumers who already love your brand. You'll have a successful return on your invest because you will be speaking to the right people.