Last updated 1 year ago
Since its creation, Pinterest has been a social network for crafters and collectors to share niche content, but for local businesses, it’s now much more. Pinterest is now a useful online marketing tool that helps local business owners market their brand, build a community of followers, and create an optimized Web presence that drives traffic back to their website or other pages online. And for some local businesses, the opportunities to do this are great as Pinterest is now the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter. Before January 2012, Pinterest was receiving an impressive 10 million monthly visits, which quickly grew to 17.8 million monthly visits by February and has continued to climb. And now that Pinterest offers business accounts, it’s important that you know how to use this new feature to help you market your business on Pinterest. So to help your local business get the most out of Pinterest, here are a few tips for optimizing your Pinterest for Business page.
Set Up Pinterest for Business
To start taking advantage of Pinterest for your business, you can either set up a new account or convert your personal Pinterest account into a business one. Then, you’ll need to complete your profile with an image that represents your business and a quick message to your followers. In addition, you need to verify your website so the URL appears directly in the “About” section of your Pinterest profile. You can also sync your Pinterest account with your other social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, to share your Pinterest content directly on those sites.
Drive Traffic to Your Sites
Pinterest offers a great opportunity to generate links back to your website, blog, or other content sites such as your Flickr page or YouTube Channel, and this is a key goal for many small businesses using Pinterest. You can use Pinterest to pin unique content from your existing sites, such as new products, special offers and promotions, blog posts, images, interesting videos, and more. Because these pins link directly back to your website or other pages on the Web, you can drive more visitors to those sites, encouraging more traffic and conversions. Plus, every time someone repins your image it creates another path back to your site that helps new consumers discover your business.
Create Boards that are Relevant & Interesting
Once you set up your Pinterest for Business page, you can start sharing content you’re your followers by creating relevant boards and pinning content your followers want to see. Daniel P. Maloney, CEO and Co-founder of PinLeague.com, suggests creating a few boards with content that your audience loves, a few boards with unique content that they might be unable to find elsewhere, and a couple of boards primarily about yourself. By creating this diverse mix of content, you can build a great Pinterest profile without making your page a giant advertisement. Also, be sure to select a bold image for each of your board cover photos, as well as your profile image, as these are two of the top places people will look first.
Optimize Your Pins for Search
When you do pin content, whether from your own pages or content from around the Web, it’s important to add related business keywords to the text in your pins so that search engines and consumers can find your content. For instance, if you are a local baker, you could include keywords like “wedding cakes”, “special event cakes”, or “cake decorating” when you post pins of those types of cakes. Not only will this help your Pinterest profile in terms of organic search engine optimization (SEO) but will help people looking for your types of products or services find what they are looking for. In fact, one survey showed that 70% of people use Pinterest primarily to get inspiration on what to buy. This means Pinterest is a great place to showcase your products and services.
Encourage Content Sharing
There are several ways consumers can share your content on Pinterest. One way is to ask your existing Pinterest followers to share and comment on the pins you post on your page. And since 43% of consumers surveyed said they use Pinterest specifically to engage with brands and retailers, compared to 24% of Facebook users, they may be likely to comment on and share your content if you ask them to. You should also consider adding a “Pin” button to pages on your site, like your Product page, blog, or video pages that contain content you’d like consumers to share. Then, you can track those pins with this link to see which content consumers are pinning from your site: http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com.
Are you using Pinterest for Business to market your products and services? What unique ways are you using Pinterest to build your brand and boost visits to your site? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author
Lindsay Paramore is an expert on online marketing and branding for business owners. She works as a Web Presence Professional for ReachLocal.
Last updated 1 year ago
Nielsen’s State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012 reflects on various social media trends of 2012, as well as the potential impact they will have on the coming year. There is no denying that social media is more popular than ever with consumers, and that having a social media presence is critical for SMBs’ online marketing strategies in 2013. Here are a few highlights from the report.
Mobile Usage Is Not Slowing Down
As you might have guessed, the amount of time consumers spent on PCs and Smartphones increased between July 2011 and July 2012. Time spent on these devices grew by 21%, while time on apps rose 120% in that same period. While PCs still remain our primary source of Internet access, the usage of mobile Web and apps are increasing at a significant rate. Small businesses can’t afford to ignore mobile any longer, and should invest in mobile-friendly advertising and sites to reach this growing audience.
Time Spent on Social Networks Grew 37%.
From July 2011 to July 2012, the time consumers spent on social media sites grew from 88.4B minutes to a whopping 121.1B minutes. Nielsen attributes this substantial growth in part to the rise of mobile apps, which enable us to stay connected to our favorite sites while on the go. In fact, we spent seven times more minutes on apps than on the mobile Web. Time spent on these sites means social media access is not only on the rise, but also that we are more engaged when we do visit them. For small businesses, this means being active on social media is more important than ever in order to reach consumers spending a large portion of their time there.
Consumers Value Social Customer Service
For more and more consumers, social care, also known as social customer service, is becoming an increasingly important, and valuable social media trend for SMBs to leverage. Nielsen reports that one in three social media users prefer social care to contacting a company by phone. That means that more consumers are using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and the company blog to reach out to businesses and brands in the hope of resolving a customer service issue. SMBs are not immune to this trend, and many will see an influx of customer complaints through these channels, which can impact their online reputation. As a result, it’s vital for businesses to monitor their social media pages regularly and respond to customer questions, complaints, and more as soon as possible.
As we’ve seen throughout the year, mobile and social media continue to top consumers’ online behavior. And as 2012 winds down, it’s important for small businesses to think about whether they have successfully taken advantage of some of these social media trends, and how they can incorporate them in the future. You can read the entire Nielsen social media report here.
How do mobile and social media fit into your online marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments!
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.
Last updated 1 year ago
At ReachLocal, we are proud of how passionate our employees are when it comes not just to working with and getting to know local businesses, but also within their communities. So it’s no surprise that ReachLocal employees take time during the holidays to give back to their local communities.
See how a few of our local offices spread holiday cheer and lent a hand to those in need this holiday season.
This year, employees from our Vancouver office held a toy drive during the holidays. They had a great turnout and donated many toys to children in need via the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.
ReachLocal employees in Cleveland volunteered at a local Salvation Army center, where they sorted through toys that will be distributed to over 2,500 needy families in the area.
A ReachLocal team in Kansas City spent the day volunteering for the Harvesters Food Bank of Kansas City. They had a wonderful time bonding with their team members while helping the local community.
Web Presence Professionals in our ReachLocal Plano office turned their food drive into a competition. They divided into teams and the team that brought in the most food donations won a pizza party. They had an excellent turnout and donated 702 pounds of food to the North Texas Food Bank.
ReachLocal employees in Dallas used our annual holiday party to provide toys for needy children through the Community Partners of Dallas.
This is just a glimpse at the way ReachLocal is giving back for the holidays. A big “thank you” goes out to all of the ReachLocal employees and teams and across the nation and globe for all the great work they do for local businesses and communities. We are grateful to work with such generous and thoughtful people!
How are you giving back to your local community this year? Let us know in a comment!
Last updated 1 year ago
Facebook is getting into the local mobile search game, with the recent announcement of a new feature called Facebook Nearby. This Foursquare-like function built into Facebook’s iOS and Android mobile apps lets consumers find, rate, and recommend local businesses within the Facebook mobile app. Users can access Facebook Nearby from the left-hand sidebar to access the ability check in, recommend (or review), and give businesses they’ve visited a star rating, as well as see businesses that their friends have checked into or recommended. Consumers can also search for a local business by name or category, and Nearby will display nearby businesses and other places ranked by various criteria.
Since Facebook has over 543 million mobile users, this makes this new feature a critical part of your mobile and local marketing strategy. So, here are a few tips for making the most of Facebook Nearby for your local business.
Claim, Create & Merge Your Pages
To make sure potential customers are finding your business and seeing the right information about you when they search on Facebook Nearby, you’ll need to claim or create both your Facebook Place and Business pages. Then, add your business details, such as your category or categories, physical address, hours, website URL, contact information, photos, and more. Once your page is created and optimized, customers who check in at your location can also rate it, thus improving your placement in the Facebook Nearby search results when someone searches for a local business like yours.
Claim Your Place
A Facebook Place page for your physical location may already exist. But, to get the most out of this local business feature, you need to claim your Place. Claiming your Place not only gives you control over the information visitors see about your business, but it also lets you see the activity on your Place, like check-ins and recommendations from people visiting your physical location. Here’s how to find or create your Place.
Create Your Page
Even more important than your claiming your Place is having a Page for your business on Facebook. This public Facebook page, once you have filled it with keyword-rich information about your business, can be indexed by Google to provide a key place for prospective customers to learn about your business. Plus, when people “like” your page, you can share quality content like photos, videos, special offers, interesting stories, helpful tips, and more with them. And, having a Facebook page for your business means you can merge this page with your place listing, which can help you get more out of Facebook nearby by offering even more robust business information to Facebook Nearby users.
Merge Your Pages
Once you have both a Place and a business Page, you may be able to merge your pages. At this time, Facebook has not rolled out the merging feature to all businesses, so check your page regularly to see if yours has this feature yet. Once you can access the merging feature, Facebook recommends merging your Place and Page if you are prompted to do so by the site when you log into your Facebook page and if you have just one physical location. If you have more than one physical location, it’s best not to merge at this time. While multiple locations are not supported at this time, Facebook says a solution for merging multiple locations to a single Page will be available in the future. Once you have merged your Facebook Place and your Page, local consumers searching for you on Facebook Nearby will see in their results your business photo and other details from your business page. Plus, now, when they “like” your business from the Facebook Nearby feature, they will also like your Page directly, which enables them see content from your business in their Facebook feed.
Encourage Check-ins, Star Ratings & Recommendations
Because Facebook Nearby results are ranked by criteria such as star ratings (from 1-5 stars), check-ins, likes, and text recommendations, it’s important to drive this kind of engagement from your customers and fans on Facebook. These cues from local consumers tell Facebook which businesses to display when someone searches in the app.
To get the most out of these new features, encourage fans to not just “like” and recommend your business, but to more importantly check in at your location and give it a star rating (only customers who have checked in can give your business a star rating). To drive this type of engagement from your customers, you could leverage in-store signage, Facebook posts to your existing fans, emails, and more to ask your customers to take action when they visit you. Plus, you could even offer an incentive similar to what you might on Foursquare, such as a request to check in on Facebook and show your server your check-in to receive free a appetizer.
Facebook says that as Facebook Nearby becomes more popular with consumers and the ability to merge your Facebook place with your page rolls out to more businesses, recommendations will become more personalized to each user as their friends check in, rate, and recommend more businesses. While the ability to write lengthy recommendations, add photos, and other features offered by other review sites or location-based services appear absent from Facebook Nearby at this time, Facebook’s already massive user base may lead to widespread use of the feature, making Facebook Nearby a hit with both local consumers and businesses.
What do you think of the new Nearby feature on Facebook? How will Facebook Nearby factor in to the way you use other local business services like Yelp and Foursquare? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Last updated 1 year ago
The shift of consumer buying behavior to the online space means it is more important than ever before to define your target audiences. The good news is, this shift makes it easier than ever to learn about your potential customers. In addition to basic information like their location and demographics, you can get a better understanding of the types of sites they visit to learn about local businesses, what content they are interested in seeing, and more. Defining the target audience for your marketing can help you tailor content like social media posts, paid advertisements, photos and videos, as well as help you determine which marketing methods may be most beneficial to your business.
Ultimately, targeting the right consumers can help you get the most out of your advertising dollars. So how can you identify your target audience today? Start by answering the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why.
Who are your current customers?
Get to know your existing customer base. Since they have purchased from you before, you can use them to gather insight that will help you identify your core target audiences. You can reach out to them via email, social media, or in-store share a survey gathering basic information such as demographics, interests, and needs. You can also use this opportunity to learn what customers value about your business or what products or services they are most interested in.
Who do you want to buy your products and services?
Identify aspirational audiences to target as well, to help expand your customer base. But keep in mind that it’s important to be realistic when considering who will actually buy from you. For example, if you’re a high-end boutique whose customer base currently consists of mostly fashion-conscious teens and college students, you may want to expand to a new target audience such as young professional women, but targeting budget-conscious moms might not be a good fit for your products and services.
Who are you marketing to now?
If you are currently targeting specific audiences as part of your online marketing, make sure you track the results to see what targeting efforts are performing the best. For instance, start by tracking phone calls and listening to them for insight into how well your marketing is working. If your efforts are successful, continue to target these groups. But if they aren’t, consider your answers to all of these questions and adjust your message and strategy. Also, monitoring your results can reveal audiences you might not be exclusively targeting, but should. For example, if your search advertising is driving more conversions via mobile than desktop, you should boost your mobile presence by creating an optimized mobile website or landing page to create a smart mobile experience for on-the-go consumers.
What are your customers’ backgrounds?
This is the one of the most important questions to answer when defining your target audience. Identifying things like gender, age, education level, geographic location, hobbies and interests, income level, family status, and more can help you determine what types of online advertising, or mix of online and offline, you should use to reach the right customers for your business.
What do they buy?
Do your current customers buy more of certain products and services? Identifying your best-sellers can not only help you make smarter inventory decisions but also shape your messaging to reach more consumers who may purchase these items as well. Plus, by monitoring your social media and review sites, you can always be on top of what customers are saying about you – and if it’s good, keep up the great work; if not, use it as an opportunity to change.
When do consumers buy your products?
Do customers buy your products or services more during a specific time of the year or on a more regular basis? Knowing the frequency or seasonality can help you craft messages that reach consumers at the right time in their buying journey. For example, a local plumber is typically sought on an as-needed basis, so optimizing content and search ads for “emergency plumbing services” may help you target consumers who are actively making a quick purchasing decision. On the other hand, a consumer shopping for a new car is more likely to research vehicles, dealers, reviews, and offers on a variety of sites over a longer period of time, so it’s important to take the length of your typical buying cycle into consideration.
When do consumers interact with your brand now?
Targeting the right audience isn’t only important for making new sales but also for building your brand online. For instance, by monitoring when your fans interact with your social media posts, you can better plan a schedule of when to post content to get the most visibility and engagement. For instance, if you get more traction on Friday afternoons than Monday mornings, take advantage of that time to share engaging content or special offers and promotions for your fans and followers when they are more likely to see and share them.
Where do your customers live?
Defining where your customers are from can significantly help you focus your targeting efforts. Geographic targeting in search and display advertising can help you generate qualified leads by displaying your message to the audience in your service area. For example, if you’re a dentist in Everett, WA, chances are you won’t get business from patients living in Renton. So to target the right consumers, you should use good keywords, like location-specific phrases, in your content in order to improve your chance of showing up when they search for businesses like yours via search engines and local directories.
Where did they discover you online?
One simple way to identify your target audience is to find out where your current customers first discovered your business. Whether from search engines, local directories, online review sites, social media, or word of mouth, knowing where they found you can help you plan where to focus your targeting efforts.
Why do they buy?
Most purchases can be classified into two buckets: needs and wants. Knowing your products and services and why customers purchase them can provide additional insight into your target audience and the journey they may take to find a local business. For instance, the consumer looking for that emergency plumber will have a vastly different expectation and journey than someone looking for a spa, so by understanding the “why”, you can determine their likely path to purchase.
Why do they buy from your competitors?
Customers have multiple choices when buying today, and the possible reasons consumers may buy from your competitors are numerous. They could provide excellent customer service, engage more with their fans and followers online, have a better online reputation, offer better discounts, or optimize their content online so that consumers find them when they search. So, understanding why they might buy from your competitors over you can help you shift your approach to reach them, engage them, and convert them into new customers.
Answering all these questions is critical to identify your target consumers. Today, the average consumer uses over 10 sources of information to make a purchase decision, up from just five sources in 2010. This makes it more important than ever to know your target audience so you can build a marketing plan that reaches your target audience where and when they are most likely to discover and engage with your business online. To learn more about today’s consumer buying journey and to see industry related case studies, download our ebook, “How Consumers Buy Today: Harnessing the Buying Journey to Get More Customers.”
What other tactics do you use to identify your target audience? Do these answers give you a better picture of who you should target? Let us know in a comment!
About the Author
Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.