Marketers are no longer asking if they should be active in social media. They understand that user-generated content such as ratings and reviews are required elements of a comprehensive location-based search program.
These days, it’s a question of how to get the most impact out of a social media program.
With the right social media strategy, you can communicate directly with your customers, create engaging discussion topics, and help your marketing go viral.
Social media can also boost the prominence of your online brand-awareness and organically propel your business locations to the top of local search results.
The fast-evolving social media landscape can be a confusing place for marketers these days, however, as the array of choices grows almost daily: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Groupon, Flickr and Foursquare, just to name a few, and recently Facebook Deals and other new social networking ventures have joined the frenzy for local businesses’ marketing dollars.
As interactive marketing options become increasingly complex, so do the criteria requirements for search engine optimization. Due to recent changes in Google algorithms, SEO is now aimed at delivering more relevant and personalized information to searchers.
Many marketers aren't exactly sure how and where to focus their online efforts. To achieve the highest ROI, they must keep up with a rapidly changing environment.
If you’re responsible for marketing a national brand, you know how important it is to have your locations rank prominently in geo-specific searches. This is especially true for multi-location businesses such as restaurants, retail and hotel chains.
An active social media program will make your business locations more prominent in sources across the web, and prominence is a primary factor used by Google in local search rankings. Here are six tips that will help you achieve that goal:
- Build a fan base on Facebook. Forty percent of Facebook users also follow a brand. More than half of these Facebook users will move on to purchase that brand. Facebook 'likes' are a speed-marketing tool that virally spread brand awareness by delivering information to the news feeds of everyone befriended by your brand fans.
- Use Twitter to keep in touch with customers. One in four Twitter users follows a brand, and 67 percent of those brand-followers will end up purchasing that specific brand. Your Tweets should engage consumers by providing them with helpful information about your business and services. Special offers are a great way to grab the attention of Twitter followers.
- Encourage customers to rate and review your business. Yelp users wrote 6 million reviews in 2010, and the local search site is on track for 9 million in 2011, according to a Mashable report. Consumers love online reviews because they can see what others really think about a product or service before making a decision to buy. Reviews on socially interactive sites such as Yelp improve your search engine rankings and drive free web traffic.
- Leverage the power of YouTube in local search results. Embedded videos in Google Place Pages, websites, and social profile pages can showcase your products and services while putting a human face on your business.
- Use group-buying sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial. During hard economic times, subscription to coupon sites such as these have never been more prevalent. Promoting deals to these huge subscriber bases can be a fast and easy way to create buzz and spread the word about your business without advertising.
- Give customers promotional incentives to share information online. Branded “Share for Rewards” programs can encourage consumers to share offers with their friends via Facebook, IM, and other web channels in exchange for discounts on products or services.
By creating an engaging social media program, you can make it easy for your customers to find your local business and more importantly, talk about it online. The result will be incredible ROI that will amplify your web marketing, generate calls and appointments and boost long-term brand awareness. What are you waiting for?