Small Business Online Marketing in 2013 - Case Study: Dunes Resort in Saugatuck
Over the past 5 years, most companies have become comfortable in maintaining a Facebook page and ensuring that their website updates, photos and little status updates were kept up-to-date here. Facebook has morphed and evolved over the years, and is now a tried and true success story in how companies can best promote and market themselves online. The trick here for maximizing any social media marketing outreach is a combination of "reach" and "engagement", getting the message out to a decent number of fans/followers and developing messaging that these folks will want to share, comment, like or ReTweet... all part of an "engagement" strategy that allows businesses to speak "with" their constituents and interact with them in ways that are unrivaled in the history of business marketing outreach (and customer service, but that's another story topic).
For most companies, the formula is:
- Post updates, links (to your company's info and info that is related to your company's industry), photos and videos on Facebook and ensure they are all connected and tagged properly (using the @ symbol).
- Post these updates to Twitter, either automated by connecting accounts at www.facebook.com/twitter, using a service such as HootSuite.com or TwitterFeed.com or posting manually. Note that it's important to ensure your social media content goes into Twitter... everything from social media monitoring services, programs that measure "trends" in your industry, as well as Google Search, use Twitter as their #1 source of content to analyze.
- Ensure some of your posts are also included on LinkedIn Groups related to your industry, as well as your personal and/or business Google+ Profile. Note that LinkedIn and Google Plus, as well as Twitter, all use the @ symbol when connecting updates to actual member profiles... a very powerful social media feature.
Outside of Facebook, content should be posted using some of the following social media resources:
- Photos on Instagram, tagged both by traditional photo tagging (connecting photo faces to actual user profiles, just like in Facebook), as well as #hashtags, fast becoming one of the most powerful means of ensuring your content is discovered, viewed and measured online.
- Videos on YouTube and Vine. Note that these are two distinct styles of video services... Vine is a new program, very similar to Instagram, which allows for 6-second videos to be taken, shared, tagged and hashtagged. Vine is part of Twitter now, and integrates quite nicely... in today's fast-paced world, a quick-loading 6-second video will get noticed and watched, increasing your company's overall outreach and exposure.
- Written content in blog format - if your company puts out some really good articles, reviews, etc., using a blog for this content simple ensures it spreads as far and wide as possible. Blogs go hand-in-hand with social media marketing and can be tagged for improved content discoverability and search as well. Free blog software is provided by Blogger.com and Tumblr.com.
- Content curation and bookmarking - if you're out there daily, staying on top of trends, articles and videos related to your industry, and you like to share these finds with others, both as a way of "giving back" to the community, as well as enhancing your position in your industry as a leader, influencer and trend setter, then these services are for you. Social bookmarking is best done using Delicious.com, while content curation, compiling some of the best articles you read into a theme others can view, is best done using Flipboard.com and Scoop.it.
The areas that have improved tremendously in 2013 include the empowerment of user-generated content for your business OUTSIDE of Facebook. This includes the social media sharing programs that also use hashtag technology, such as Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. It also includes various ways for you as a business to display this content, measure it and analyze it in order to make your online marketing outreach the best it can be.
Let's start with RebelMouse.com. This is an incredible piece of online software which compiles all of your social media outreach into one screen, organized chronologically and displayed in Pinterest-style tile format, as seen below. Monitoring this account daily, as well as sharing with your online fans/followers/customers, will allow you to both see in one quick, easy-to-read format what is happening in your business's world online, as well as monitor what others are saying and sharing with you as well.
www.visualead.com, as seen here.
Measuring your online marketing performance has come a long way in 2013... it's no longer just a function of watching your unique visitors go through your website using Google Analytics. Now you can stay on top of who is visiting your Facebook business page and what they are interacting with the most, in order to fine tune and maximize your social media outreach on this platform.
A new service launched by our company, Gay2Day.com, seeks to take much of this social media interaction to a whole new level. By creating hubs based on region (LGBT New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, etc.) and theme (LGBT Movies & Film), we have integrated social media outreach in a way that encourages online users to share with a purpose... talking about various destinations, products, restaurants, hotels and more with their friends and followers while competing to see who are the top social media individuals in their sphere of influence. Top social media sharers receive free DVDs, meals at restaurants, hotel stays and more. For businesses, it's like a co-op social media advertising campaign... the more LGBT folks share with their friends and followers about a specific destination or theme, the more each business listed on these pages is promoted and talked about as well.
GayCities.com does an excellent job of integrating social media events and check-ins with your business and sharing it with other gays & lesbians out there online. If you're a business and you have a listing on GayCities.com, ensure you're managing it and making sure it looks the best it can with updated information and photos.
The same goes for your Google Places and Bing business information... take a close look at how others see you in these two important search engines and ensure you've updated your information here as well. With Google integrated more and more with both Twitter and Google+ social media, and Bing doing the same with Facebook, what you say and who shares, engages and interacts with your content online is fast becoming one of the most important aspects of your company's overall marketing outreach and customer service, and is also becoming one of the first places an online potential customer is developing their "first impression" of your business product and/or service.