Secondary Social Networks
Where to spend your hard earned money is always a hard decision. For a business owner, knowing where to invest your marketing dollars can be even harder. TV, Radio, Newspaper, and Internet all have advantages and disadvantages. But, one thing is for sure, when free marketing opportunities present themselves, small businesses need to take advantage as much as possible. This is why social media makes so much sense. While most businesses do well to focus on Facebook and Twitter, there are numerous other social media networks that do need to have a little face time as well. Social media sites such as Yelp, FourSquare, Google Places, and UrbanSpoon allow for your business to be listed in a common directory from which users can search and find results based on filterable criteria. End users are able to search for businesses based on any number of criteria and narrow down to a single business.
The number one site for recommendations and business listings is Yelp. Although typically targeted to retail businesses, it is essential that you add your business regardless of what you sell. People search for products, services, and all other types of items via the Yelp website and their mobile applications. Yelp also sells access to its local data to other players who use it in their applications – For instance, Apple uses Yelp data when someone searches for local restaurants and businesses via its “Siri” service. FourSquare is another major competitor in this field. One major difference from Yelp is that FourSquare allows for more social interaction between end users and the business. Users are able to “check-in” at your business and share, with their friends, their opinion of their visit. Business owners can create incentives for checking in at the shops with configurable reward levels.
A relatively new player called Belly, focused on restaurants and eateries, recently made it appearance in Lufkin as well. With Belly, you scan a special code each time you visit and, after a few visits, you can earn free stuff. Google and Microsoft also have competing local search businesses. Google has Places and Bing has the Bing Business Portal. Each service allows for you to “claim” your business and create a profile. This profile is visible to users who utilize their search tools at Google.com and Bing.com. Profiles can include pictures, addresses, business hours, and contact information. Specialty sites are also important to focus on if they are in your niche. For instance, all restaurants and food services need to add a profile to UrbanSpoon.com. This website allows users to leave feedback and ratings about your business. You will want to read these reviews and respond when appropriate.
Another popular site for very niche services is Angie’s List. This site allows for service professionals to create a profile and allow people to recommend and rate their offerings. Although it is important to focus your advertising time and dollars on the most effective tools, it is essential that you take advantage of these free tools that people use on a daily basis.
Whether you manage all of these social sites on your own, or utilize a social media management company, it is essential that you check in and ensure that your profile is up-to-date on a regular basis – bi-weekly is usually sufficient. Comments and ratings made via these sites are typically emailed to the address registered and can be handled on a case by case basis. By creating profiles at these social media sites, you increase the likelihood that your business will be found and, in turn, greatly increase sales.