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    Surviving an Online Crisis: Tips to Prevent Social Media Mistakes

    Last updated 1 year ago

    If the phrase “social media mishap” were a listing in the dictionary, chances are you’d find these real-life companies included as definition examples: Amy’s Baking Company, Taco Bell and Epicurious. Whether it’s Facebook posts gone wrong (as in the case of Amy’s Baking Company and Taco Bell) or a Twitter post that received outrage from readers and the press (Epicurious), these companies all landed in the same spot: right in the middle of a huge public backlash after making a social media mistake. While some people believe the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” most small- and medium-size businesses would prefer to stay out of the spotlight when it comes to a bad social media mistake.

    So what steps can an SMB take to avoid making social media mistakes that can give them a negative reputation online? Here are some tips to consider.

    Think Before You Post

    While no SMB wants to be the recipient of negative comments on social media, there’s one simple way you can help prevent this: think before you post. In the case of Amy’s Baking Company, the company’s owners started to receive media attention in 2010 after responding negatively to a review about their restaurant on Yelp. But that was just the beginning. Recently, it was reported that they posted insulting comments about their detractors on the company’s own Facebook page. The couple later claimed someone unknown to them hacked into their Facebook account and posted the insults. No matter who posted the disparaging remarks, a key take-away can still be learned: never post rude comments or become overly defensive to the point of insulting on your social media pages. Doing so is one of the quickest ways to land in the middle of a social media nightmare.

    If you find yourself upset by negative comments on your social media pages and you want to write a response, ensure your emotions are not running high when you do so. If you’re unsure of how your response sounds, have a trusted friend or business associate read it before posting. However, if you think a comment on your page is unrelated to your business or made by a troll, it is perfectly acceptable to report and remove any comments that you consider profane, threatening, or make you feel unsafe. However, if someone posts a comment that falls in the “legitimate complaint” category, resist the urge to delete it. Deleting negative comments can lead to backlash from your fans.

    Have a Social Media Policy

    In the case of Taco Bell, an employee was fired after posting a photo to his personal social media page that showed him licking a stack of taco shells. Taco Bell investigated and determined that the shells were never served to the public and that the image was a rejected photo taken for an internal company contest. Nevertheless, the damage was done on social media after the photo went viral. The employee was later fired for violating the company’s social media policy. The lesson here? Ensure you have a social media policy in place and that employees understand the policy, including consequences for violations.

    Be Careful When “Newsjacking”

    The practice of “newsjacking” entails tying your product or service to a well-known national or international news story as a marketing method. WhiIe newsjacking is an acceptable marketing practice, sensitivity to the news story at hand must be thought of before you post. Failing to consider how a story will affect your readers is a surefire way to make a huge social media mistake. Some examples of newsjacking and the public outrage that ensued afterward on social media include American Outfitters and Epicurious, both of whom tied their online marketing to national tragedies.

    But, If a tragedy occurs and your company has decided to help in the aftermath in legitimate ways, such as by fundraising, collecting food, holding a blood drive, or more, promoting those activities on social media is a great way to demonstrate your community involvement and company culture.

    Stay Alert

    By setting up a notification system like Google Alerts, you can monitor what is being said about you and your business online.  You should also make sure to frequently check your social media pages for mentions and tags of your business name to fully monitor your online reputation. Knowing what your customers are saying about you and your company enables you to take the necessary steps to resolve any legitimate complaints before they get out of control. By being proactive in complaint resolution, you’re not only providing excellent service to your customers, but you’re also helping to prevent those complaints from spreading and growing on social media.

    Are you taking active measures to prevent potentially detrimental social media mistakes? Let us know in the comments section!

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Connect with her on Twitter.


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    5 Signs You Might Suffer From Phone Failure

    Last updated 1 year ago

    One of the most important touch points in the customer buying journey is the phone call. After searching for your products or services on Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and visiting your company’s website, a prospect’s next likely step is to call you. In the case of a personal referral, a phone call from a prospect can be the very first touch point with your business.

    Prospect expectations are very high at the phone call stage because they’re calling to see if you have the products or services they need. If you can answer the phone quickly (or reply immediately to a call you couldn’t answer) and provide the information prospects seek to determine if you’re the right company for them to do business with, you have an excellent chance of winning new business. Not sure how you’re doing at the phone call stage? Then check out these five signs of you might be suffering from phone failure and what you can do to improve your call handling and get more business.

    1. You play hide and seek with your phone number.

    Phone failure can start even before a prospect or customer calls your business. Excellent phone service begins with the phone number itself and how easy it is for your prospect to find. The ideal place for your company phone number is at the top of every page on your website. But if you’ve buried the phone number somewhere on your website, you’re making it too difficult for prospects to call you to begin with. So don’t send prospects on a hunting expedition! Make sure your phone number is visible and easy to find on every page of your website. 

    2. Your phone number is no longer current.

    When your customers call, do they hear, “The number you have reached is no longer in service” or do they reach a voicemail that is not assigned to your front desk? Even worse, do they reach a different company altogether? These scenarios can occur when a company moves or if there are multiple company locations. So it’s important to audit all of your company phone numbers to see who’s answering the other line. You might be surprised to hear who answers.

    3. No one answers the phone when it rings.

    According to Consumer Reports, 71% of its survey respondents said they felt “tremendously annoyed” when they couldn’t reach a human on the phone when they called a business. And 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration after not being able to talk with a live person. Does your phone just ring…and ring…and ring…? If so, try to determine why. Then, you can take steps to catch these all-important calls. For example, are you too busy to answer the phone and it’s time to hire a receptionist? Or, would a third-party phone service be helpful in taking after-hours phone messages for you? At the very least, ensure you have an easy-to-navigate voice messaging service in place so your prospects know they’ve reached the right company and that you will follow up with them.  Then, don’t leave them hanging; assign someone to call back those prospects as soon as possible to answer their questions. 

    4. You’re not monitoring how employees speak with prospects over the phone.

    73% of consumers give up on a business because of rude or incompetent staff. However, if you’re not sure how well your employees speak with prospects over the phone, you could be losing prospects. ­­One solution is to invest in call-recording software that helps you monitor calls between employees and prospects. Call monitoring will help you assess employee performance in terms of professionalism and knowledge of your products and services. With this information, you can then determine if employee coaching or additional product training is necessary. You will also have a deeper insight into your prospects’ needs and concerns so you can devise and carry out successful strategies to win their business.

    5. You’re not collecting prospect email and phone number information.

    It’s important that you ask every prospect for their email address and phone number and store it in a centralized system or database. When you’ve collected this information, you have the data you need to follow up with the prospect if you’re not able to speak with them at the time of their initial phone call to your business. Plus, collecting email addresses give you the opportunity to follow up with them after they’ve bought from you when you have a special, event, or new product or service that may be beneficial to them.

    What steps have you taken in your business to avoid “phone failure”? Let us know in the comments section!

    About the Author

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog. Connect with her on Twitter.

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    7 Social Networks SMBs Should Keep an Eye On

    Last updated 1 year ago

    If you’re a marketer or business owner, you probably know that social media is an important way to market your business online and may already have a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. But in the world of social media, nothing stays the same for long. To keep your business on the forefront online, it’s important to stay up to date on emerging social networks that can help you spread the word about your business online. So, we put together this list of seven social media sites for SMBs to watch.

    New Social Media Sites to Watch
    Several hot new social media sites have launched recently. Will they be the next big things in social media marketing? Only time will tell, but here are a few to keep your eye on.


    A stripped-down blogging platform, Medium lets you post content that exceeds Twitter’s 140-character limit but lacks much of the complicated setup of other blogging platforms out there. On Medium, users can read interesting and popular articles, leave notes, and recommend stories they like. Medium is pretty minimalistic and focuses more on your copy (great for SEO!) and less on images (although, images can be used). With a user-friendly Web editor that doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge, anyone can use it to share content about their business online. One potential downside to Medium is that you can’t embed a Medium blog on your website, meaning its potential SEO rank won’t help boost your website like a blog that's part of your website will. 


    Consumers on the go want real-time information about what to eat, see, and do in the local community. Roamz is a local discovery app that lets people use their smartphones see what others are doing nearby by automatically searching other social sites like Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It then lets users share their discoveries across their networks. Roamz is launching a social customer relationship tool called Local Measure for businesses that delivers insight about their customers, no matter what social network they happen to be using. This tool helps small businesses identify loyal customers, respond to customer feedback, and retain more customers.


    Video is a popular and effective way to market your business and communicate information to your target audience. Viddy lets you shoot a 30-second or shorter video from your smartphone, edit the footage, add special effects and a soundtrack. You can then share your video to your existing fans and followers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. There are several ways you could use Viddy for marketing your business online. For example, you could use Viddy to create short customer testimonial videos, product demonstrations, a Q&A session, contests and giveaways, a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or a sample of your company’s culture or community event.


    You may have Vine, which is a new social tool from the makers of Twitter, but may not know how to apply it to your business in particular. Vine lets you to create bite-sized, six-second videos that automatically loop over and over (like a GIF) and post them to Vine, Twitter, and Facebook. The Vine app will only record when you are holding your finger on the screen, so you can record a full six-second length video, or you can start and stop your video recording to create a stop-motion style effect for your short videos. You can also select for your Vine to include audio or just play on mute. You can use Vine to create short videos featuring your products or services, tour your store, or just create fun, industry-related videos that engage your audience. Here are a few examples of how some businesses are using Vine to promote themselves online. Similar to Instagram, Vine lets you tag people, create hashtags, and follow and interact with other users. With its popularity growing, Vine is now available on the Android platform and allows you to post your creations to Facebook as well.

    Tried & True Sites to Consider

    What’s old can become new again in social media. Here are a few seasoned social media sites that may have new marketing opportunities for your business. If you aren’t using them already, here’s an overview of these sites and why you might want to consider using them to market your business.


    You may already have a LinkedIn company page, but are you using it fully to your advantage? LinkedIn has evolved from a professional networking site to a major content site that is arguably a top social network for businesses. Users can now follow business pages, similar to how users “Like” a Facebook page to keep up to date with a company. Which means now, there’s a huge opportunity to post helpful content like company updates, photos, links to your blog articles, and product and service information from your company LinkedIn page. Plus, did you know that you can now brand your business with a captivating header image and logo on your company page? Many businesses are also taking advantage of features like the rotating banner images under the Products/Services tab to promote products, services, other social networks, or free tools, with embedded links to their website or landing page. LinkedIn also offers paid ads that lead directly to this tab to boost your traffic there.


    Tumblr, a visual micro-blogging platform, is useful for businesses that want to have a visual presence online. Businesses that typically do well on sites like Pinterest or Instagram can also benefit from using Tumblr. Currently, many brands use Tumblr to share everything from product and service photos, events, and company news to instructional tutorials, short lists, and deals and coupons. This blog post from Social Media Examiner features 26 unique ways you can use Tumblr to market your business.


    This user-run platform might look overwhelming to an average business owner at first glance. It’s not extremely visually appealing, but Reddit is wildly popular and can help promote your content to new audiences. And, with 71 million unique monthly visitors, there are a lot of eyes you can reach. One of the biggest benefits to Reddit is being able see what is trending among your niche audience. The first step to using Reddit for your business is to join a “subreddit,” or a community based on a topic related to your industry, and use that forum to interact with others by commenting, asking questions, and voting for content. You can also submit relevant content such as blog posts, photos, videos, and other content that users can vote for or comment on, but don’t be spammy. You could be banned if you try to manipulate votes, such as by getting a third party to post your content or by having team members individually submit content and vote only for content posted by others in your company. So, it’s important to be careful and use best practices on Reddit to avoid banishment or community backlash.

    What emerging social networks do you have your eye on? And, which oldies have re-sparked your interest lately? Let us know in the comments section.

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    About the Author

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

    ClubLocal Enables Online Buying from Local Service Businesses

    Last updated 1 year ago

    In a recent interview with Fox Business Network, ReachLocal CEO Zorik Gordon discussed the value of our consumer-facing service offering ClubLocal. The next evolution in consumer buying, ClubLocal enables homeowners to book and buy local home services 100% online – including via their mobile device. 

    ReachLocal launched ClubLocal in the Dallas market to much success, and we are excited to announce its expansion into the San Francisco Bay Area – with a great offer for people who try the service out. The first 1,000 new customers in these areas who book a service using the ClubLocal website or iPhone app will receive $100 in free home services.

    Our video explains how it all works.


    ClubLocal offers a multitude of perks for homeowners, including: 

    • One-step booking via the website or mobile app, which means you no longer have to call multiple service providers to schedule an appointment
    • Nearly eliminated wait times thanks to two-hour appointment windows, plus mobile notifications and real-time tracking when your service pro is en route
    • Pre-screened and “A”-rated professionals, so you don’t have to worry about who’s in your home
    • An easy-to-use online system where you can review estimates, make payments, and view stored receipts and warranty information

    To book a service with ClubLocal in Dallas-Fort Worth or the San Francisco Bay Area, visit the website or download the iPhone app

    Postcards from David: Meeting ReachLocal Clients Across the Globe

    Last updated 1 year ago

    We’re excited to announce an exciting new series that will chronicle the journey of our chairman of the board, David Carlick, as he travels across the globe to meet ReachLocal clients. In this series, “Postcards from David,” we’ll hear firsthand the stories of these business owners, their challenges and victories, and how ReachLocal has played a part in the story of their business. In this first edition, we meet Gerald Scher, owner of Scher, Bassett & Hames Attorneys at Law in Sunnyvale, California. 

    I met Jerry Scher in his offices, while I was traveling with Patty Skovron his ReachLocal Internet Marketing Consultant (IMC).

    Jerry has deep roots in Silicon Valley; his father Meyer started the law firm in 1955, and there are still pictures of him in the office. It’s fun to visit a business with a heritage, and I am, admittedly, a big fan of the “family business.”

    One of the pictures in his office is a clip from the Palo Alto Times, showing a young Jerry Scher as one of their newspaper delivery kids who is written up as a future business star. I found this so charming, I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of Jerry with Patty and the news clip.

    In many ways, his story is relevant to the ReachLocal story. Palo Alto is, arguably, the capital of Silicon Valley, although San Jose has long claimed the same, and now San Francisco, newly hip and tech, is making its own claims. When I moved to the area 40 years ago, it was sleepier. You could shoot a cannon down University Avenue on a Sunday and not hit anyone. (Today, you'd hit at least two Tesla Model S sedans.) There was a downtown newspaper, complete with typesetting (molten lead then, very healthy) and printing presses. 

    A business had an easy time advertising their business. The Palo Alto Times reached everyone, and so did the Yellow Pages. Make sure you have a presence there, and you had yourself a marketing plan. 

    Today, it’s a very different story. As we all know, the Yellow Pages often does not get past the recycling bin on its way to the house. The Palo Alto Times has long since shut down; locals prefer the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News (though there are three free daily newspapers still thriving in Palo Alto, supported largely by ads from restaurants and real estate). 

    For local businesses, of course, this leaves the problem of trying to market their business in a fragmented local media landscape – not to mention trying to navigate an increasingly complex digital world. 

    For clients like Jerry, that’s exactly where ReachLocal comes in. As a local business owner, Jerry is passionate about his business, a law firm that represents people with workers’ compensation and Social Security claims or personal injuries and accidents. 

    When his IMC Patty introduced him to ReachLocal a year ago, he was dabbling in online marketing and agreed to try our search advertising service, ReachSearch. I am happy to report we have done solid work for Jerry; his practice is thriving. And, he is so happy with his the results ReachLocal has gotten him that he has signed on to be in the alpha test for our upcoming ReachEdge product – a solution that will give him a new, smart website, automated lead management, and real-time mobile reports.

    As I travel to meet clients like Jerry, I’m reminded that his story is also the story of so many of our ReachLocal clients: a local, family-owned business with deep roots that is truly serving the local community. I believe that helping businesses like these evolve their marketing so that their businesses thrive and grow is truly noble work, and that’s what makes what we do here at ReachLocal so important. 

    And I’m excited to share more of these stories with you on my journey to visit ReachLocal clients across the globe.

    Until next time,
    David Carlick

    About the Author

    David Carlick is the board director and chairman at ReachLocal.  He also serves as a venture partner at Rho Ventures, where he focuses on investments in digital media and marketing. (You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn

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