Unless you have lived in a cave for the past few years, you have heard about using Social Media websites to market your store. Today there are over 1600 different Social Media websites on the Internet and more are being created every day. But don’t worry. You do not need to be using all of them to effectively market your store. However, if you want your business to thrive in the coming years, you do need to get involved in using some of them, and use them effectively.
For business purposes, Social Media websites can be broken down into two main categories. Those that Make You Friends and those that Make You Money.
Social Media that Makes You Friends
Creating friends on Social Networking websites is important for business. It helps build deeper relationships with your customers. It communicates to them that you care about them as individuals and are not just interested in their money. It also helps you stay in contact with them creating an easy way for you to invite them back into your store.
However, many companies have become bogged down, spending an excessive amount of time on Social Networking websites with little more to show for it than an impressive list of friends. Social Networking tends to offer diminishing returns. Having a social presence on the Internet is profitable if done right. However, once you reach a certain point your rate of return for the amount of time spent does not increase incrementally. While some Social Networking is good, more is not always better.
Additionally, owners of Local Brick-N-Mortar Stores need to keep in mind two other factors. They are what I call the Internet Factor and Ownership Factor.
The Internet Factor
For the past year and a half, Internet Marketers have touted the virtues of Facebook and Twitter, and well they should. Millions and millions of dollars worth of products have been sold by online companies marketing on these two websites.
Facebook and Twitter users are 3 times more likely to buy online, which is why Internet Marketers love them so much. However, I’m amazed by the fact that so many Local Brick-N-Mortar Stores spend so much time trying to advertise their store to the very people who are least likely to buy from them!
The Ownership Factor
Everything you post on a Social Media website is owned by the website, not you. What would happen to your online marketing if Facebook was no longer the most popular website in the US? What would happen to your online video advertising if Google decided that they cannot make YouTube profitable and closed it down?
Need I remind you that three short years ago My Space was the dominant Social Media website? Every Internet marketing article published back then was telling business they need to be on My Space. Businesses were spending tens of thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and market My Space pages. They seemed invincible back then, however today My Space has all but disappeared.
Popular Social Media websites are enormously expensive to operate. Many are struggling to find ways to make them profitable. New Social Media websites are created every day and many are gaining popularity while other popular websites are losing viewers. No one knows who the dominate players will be in a couple of years from now. As the old adage goes, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.” Putting all or most of your online marketing into one or two large Social Media baskets could be disastrous for your business if those baskets disappear from the Internet.
Personally I think Facebook will be around as a dominate player for quite some time, but I’m not willing to bet my company’s future on that assumption.
Social Media that Makes You Money
Local Brick-N-Mortar stores need a two pronged approach to Social Media Marketing.
First use Social Media to get in front of the people looking for local stores at which to shop. Google announced this past summer that just over 20% of all searches are preformed with Local Intent. This means that 2.6 billion searches are preformed every month looking for a local store to physically shop.
This is called Local Search Marketing. People looking for local business are doing so on their computers and cell phones on Google searches – NOT Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube, or any of the other 1600 Social Media Websites! In order to be found in these searches you need to get your webpages up in the rankings on Google.
In addition, you can target your pages so that they will primarily show up in these 20% of searches and avoid wasting your efforts on the 80% who are not interested at the time. By laser focusing your pages you can present your message to the very people looking for a local store to buy your products and services at the time they are looking for them.
Google does NOT list websites in their search results. They list webpages. This means that Google will list your webpage on FaceBook and your video on YouTube just as readily as a page on your website. When using Social Media websites, local stores need to focus on getting that page listed in Google searches rather than just making friends.
Social Media webpages, especially video pages, have the advantage over traditional websites in that Google is more likely to rank them higher. A 2009 Forrester Research Report stated that “any given video stands about 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.” If anything has changed in that statistic in 2010 it has changed in the video’s favor. Nothing on the Internet today receives better results in the Search Engines than advertisement and informational videos on Social Media websites.
Second diversify your Social Media Marketing. Sure Facebook Business Pages are great marketing tools and every store should have several, but so are pages on Squidoo, HubPages, Weebly, Wet Paint, Xanga, Kaboodle, and others. In addition, you should save the content of your Social Media pages in a Word document or PDF file and publish them on Document Sharing websites such as Scribd, GoogleDocs, DocStoc, and others.
Yes, YouTube videos are popular and every store should be posting videos there. But you should also post those videos on JewelTube, MyTownTube, DailyMotion, eCorpTV, Esnips, Kewego, LiveVideo, and other video hosting website.
By diversifying your Social Media activity you not only protect your business from one or more of these websites losing popularity or going out of business. But more importantly each time you recreate the page or video on another website it gives you one more opportunity to have that information show up on a Google search results page.
Smart owners of local businesses today are spending less time networking on Social Media websites and more time on creating Social Media pages that not only connects with customers, but are also optimized to rank favorably in the search engines. Then they are multiplying their efforts by re-publishing the content in different forms on a variety of Social Media websites. By doing so they can effectively control Local Search in their area by acquiring five, six, or more pages about their store listed in the top ten in Google Local Searches.
Brad and Debbie Simon are 30+ year veterans of the retail jewelry industry and have been marketing on the Internet since 1999. Their company Internet 4 Jewelers provides On-Line Marketing services for Retail Jewelers. For more information on their new Local Search Marketing book “Feet Thru The Door Marketing” log on to Internet4Jewelers.com/store.