New Social Media Trends You'll See in 2015

Social Media Trends in 2015

As the year 2014 draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to a nice, relaxing holiday. And it's well deserved--2014 was a busy year for us! But for marketers? Marketers tend to struggle with letting their brains completely relax, and so are already looking ahead to 2015 and analyzing social media trends to figure out how to plan an even better marketing strategy. So let's talk about marketing with social media. What can we expect to see in 2015?

While we don't think we will be seeing tons of innovation (more on that below), we will see an increase in what's already becoming popular: More visual content and more mobile content. Let's take a look at some examples:

E-Commerce will take off

E-Commerce

 

Image courtesy of Mashable.com

Earlier in the year, Facebook and Twitter began playing around with “buy” buttons that appeared alongside content. This made it so that users could easily make purchases with just a few clicks, and they'd never even have to leave the network.

And guess what? It seems they're doing pretty well with it.

You can expect this to continue into 2015, with many advertisers pushing hard to integrate this strategy in the top social media sites. By sticking that button in there, it not only increases the likelihood that someone will purchase something from your website, it also gives hard sales numbers for analysts to keep exact track of data. Before, this wasn't possible. And considering that currently, over half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, you can see why it makes marketers so giddy. So if you want to be on top of the e-commerce trend, you're definitely going to be ready to implement these changes in the coming year.

Social media marketing will be even more popular

Social_Media_Marketing

 

Content strategy was a central theme to marketing in 2014. And guess what? It's going to be sticking around for 2015. But this time around, marketers are going to press for a content strategy by leaning heavily on social media distribution.

What does that mean? Basically, there were a lot of companies that created content in 2014, but a good percentage of them didn't bother to amplify this content through social media channels. And to be honest, that's just silly. Promoting your content through popular social media platforms should be your primary goal in terms of content marketing. Your reach and visibility is greatly increased through social media. If you need more proof, you can read more here, here, or here. Take your pick :)

You're going to see even more new networks

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Yes, we know, we said right away in the article that there wasn't going to be a whole lot of innovation. So you might be wondering: If this is the case, then how can there be so many new social networks popping up? Ello, Yik Yak, and many others have burst onto the scene, so what gives?

Well, there's always going to be someone new, someone trying to take a slice of the pie that is already being shared between social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But will they last? Many of these new sites promise true privacy (and this is a draw to many with all the recent privacy breaches), but even if they deliver, it's still incredibly difficult to make a dent in the already over-saturated social media scene. A large number of new social media platforms end up feeling incredibly empty and lonely, which directly goes against the primary reason people use social media in the first place: to be social!

So while you're going to see lots of new, shiny sites to sign up for, don't worry too much about being on top of every new trend: Many aren't going to last. It's still worth it to be aware of the trends, though!

Have you noticed any other social media trends that you think are going to be big in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!

Back to Basics #18: When Should You Automate Updates?

scheduling-updates We've talked before about how you can take a load off your shoulders by scheduling your social media and blog updates. But, as with any automated services, there's a point where you need to draw the line. Your followers and fans don't want to interact with a robot, after all—they're there because they enjoy what YOU have to offer.

So how do you know when to automate your blog posts and social media updates, and when to interact with your fans?

Automate for hours you aren't awake.

Sure, it's not the perfect time to post at 3 am on Twitter—not for everyone, anyway. But many businesses have customers who reside on the other side of the pond—and they're awake during those hours. So it's a good idea to schedule a few tweets to go out when those other eyes will fall on your page. As for platforms like Facebook and Google+, it's best to figure out when you get the most interaction. For many people, the best hours are earlier in the day, local time. If this is the case, you don't necessarily have to automate your updates. However, you might choose to do so if you know you're going to be forgetful about it!

Going to be busy or out of town all weekend? Automate your updates.

Of course it's ideal that you be around to interact with your fans and followers no matter how busy you are. But the reality of life is that we have to unplug every once in a while.

But just because you're gone doesn't mean that you can't still engage your audience. By scheduling a few posts to pop out when you're away, your fans will still be able to see what you're up to, the content you want to share with them, and products that they might want to buy.

Keep a balance of 80/20: 80% promoting other people, 20% marketing your own products.

People don't like to see a constant stream of advertisements coming from the accounts they choose to follow. If the only updates you ever offer are hard sales pitches, you'll find that your social media presence and blog subscriptions are going to go nowhere fast. A good way to keep this balance is to schedule some retweets or shares during the day. This way you can be sure that you're still contributing to discussions without coming off as overly sales-y.

Reuse old posts—schedule them to pop out at some time in the future.

What do you do with old blog posts? Well, as long as the content is “evergreen” (meaning that you could read it three years from now and it'd still be helpful), you can schedule the posts to pop out in the future.

For example, let's say you write an article about cleaning your gutters yourself. This is probably the most useful in the fall, but that's not to say it can't be helpful at other times of the year! Posting it once every few months across your social networks can help drive traffic back to your site. By scheduling them in advance, you won't have to think too much about it, or try to remember a few months down the road. It'll already be ready for you!

homer-simpson-doh

When should you NOT automate your updates?

  • When dealing with customer service--people want responses from humans, not robots.
  • When you have a fan or follower trying to get an answer to a specific question. For example, “How long is your sale going to be on?” shouldn't elicit a response based on the fact that a person contacted you (i.e., “thanks for connecting!”), or worse—radio silence.
  • During a time of national crisis. Too many brands have forgotten to take off their scheduled tweets or updates during an unexpected crisis, and as a result, they came across as insensitive—even callous. Even if your company's services have nothing to do with the crisis at hand, sometimes it's just best to stay silent for a little while.
  • When someone follows you (this is primarily geared toward Twitter users). When you follow someone on Twitter and they send you an automated direct message welcoming you (or asking you to buy something), how does it make you feel? Annoyed? Yeah, it probably doesn't really make you want to interact with the person. So don't do this to your followers. Send a personal greeting if you like, but whatever you do, don't spam them.

What do you think? Do you automate your posts? When should someone avoid scheduling updates? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Small Business Marketing is Essential in 2014 and Beyond

small-business-marketing-in-2014

small-business-marketing-in-2014 Getting the word out about your business has always been your top priority. As a small business owner, you already understand how important marketing is—whether it's word of mouth, fliers, direct marketing, or running local advertising campaigns, you know that you have to get the word out or your numbers suffer. But what many small business owners don't take into consideration is a marketing plan. And without some type of marketing strategy, you'll likely become frustrated, not knowing whether your efforts are paying off.

This is the primary reason that small business marketing is now non-negotiable. In 2014, we have a number of options to help us determine how and where to market to our clients: social media, blogs, video marketing, online local business listings, Google Places, and more. With all of these tools at our disposal, is there any excuse not to have a marketing plan in place?

No, there isn't. In this article, we'll talk a bit about why small business marketing is essential in 2014 and beyond. When you understand just how effective marketing is for your business, you'll have a better foundation to grasp the concepts of beginning your own marketing campaign.

Small business marketing is the only way to get the word out.

word-of-mouth-marketing

You've heard of companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple. Why is that? Because they have a massive consumer base and they have massive marketing budgets. Their ads are fed to you frequently to ensure you know what the company is up to, and they make sure that their products stay up-to-date and relevant.

Now, you're probably thinking, “Well, I don't have that kind of money to spend on an advertising campaign!” and you're probably right. Most small business marketing budgets are scant. And that's okay. You don't need a ton of money to start seeing returns on your efforts. As we've discussed in previous articles, you can implement social marketing strategies for very little money, and you can get started with blogging completely free of charge. The best thing about this type of marketing is that you can begin to spend money whenever you like to boost your efforts. Want to place an ad on Facebook? You can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your business. Want to pay for a domain name and host your blog as a website? For less than $20, you can grab a domain name, and hosting can be as low as $3-5 a month. There's no reason you must feel like you are required to spend thousands of dollars just to be seen online.

When you get the word out with small business marketing, you begin to build your audience online. And that's the #1 most important thing.

In 2014, traditional networking is still important.

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Networking. It sounds like a buzzword, and to some extent, that's what it's become. That aside, you should never underestimate the power of networking. If you go to local business expos, connect with influencers on Twitter and Facebook, and simply ask your customers to refer you to friends and family, then you're already networking. If you're not networking and these activities don't sound like they'll increase your sales, then think of it this way: you're building a strong reputation and a sturdy foundation of support and availability for your clients. And that is absolutely essential.

The easiest way to get started is to simply ask your customers to review you on Yelp and Google. This has the added bonus of sending “relevancy” signals to Google, helping you to rank higher. Many customers would be happy to submit positive reviews when asked, but they often don't bother to go online and leave reviews otherwise.

You can also get started on Facebook and Twitter for free. Place signs around your office or store that tell customers where they can find you online. Ask friends and family to spread the word. None of this will cost you a thing, except maybe an hour or two of your time to craft the signs!

Are press releases outdated? Nope. Not even close.

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Spread the word about newsworthy business developments: A new product, a sale, or a special event your company is attending or hosting. Try to send out a press release once a month to keep the word about your company relevant and fresh. This can cost money if you choose to promote your company online—you can pay anywhere from $120 to upwards of $250 to have your press release promoted on popular sites. But you don't have to do this. Small business marketing is all about leveraging your local connections. Talk to your local newspaper or ask to be on the news or featured on a radio show. You can talk about your new products or even offer customers a special discount if they mention your interview or article. By doing this regularly, you can easily make a good impression on your local community.

The new way of connecting to customers: Videos.

YouTube logo small business

Many small businesses specialize in a specific, niche service: Plumbing, dog grooming, notary services, etc. Think of how you felt when you first started learning about your industry. You probably felt overwhelmed and looked to professionals for guidance. Or consider how you feel when you want to save money and try to take care of things yourself—fixing a pipe or cleaning your roof, for instance. Many people look up tutorials now on YouTube.

This might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers learn how to help themselves, but it is actually a great way for your customers and company to share a dialogue. It establishes you as an authority figure and expert in your industry. Plus, taking the time to create a video tutorial for your customers shows that you spend time thinking of their needs—and customers truly appreciate that. Finally, videos on YouTube, when properly optimized, send strong relevancy signals to search engines, and that helps your website rank higher.

And there you have it. Small business marketing is essential in 2014. You need to network to connect with clients. You need to create content to stay relevant on search engines. You need to connect with customers in new and innovative ways. As the internet grows more content-based, your small business will have to keep on top of these trends to ensure your customers are still finding you.

If you need assistance with any small business marketing services, Internet Local Listings is always here to help. Simply contact us here or visit our site for more information. We have a special running right now, too—so act fast and save money while you start bringing in more customers!

Back to Basics #6: Why Small Business Listings are Essential for Local Businesses

small business listings

Note: If you’re an internet marketing expert, this post will probably not be of much help to you. But you can feel free to check out our other marketing tips and tricks here, or learn about our internet marketing services here.

If you're a beginner, we welcome you to read our Back to Basics series to learn more about internet advertising and small business marketing.

And be sure to follow our blog for posts delivered to your inbox!

 

Today, people search online to find their favorite businesses—whether they’re looking for a new place to eat dinner or they need to find a reputable salon, they’re far more likely to use a popular search engine to browse through their options than they are to do offline research. After all, with access to a computer or a smart phone at nearly every moment of the day, there’s no reason for people to locate a phone book or a business directory just to give you a call. It’s a waste of time! (And, while we’re at it, a waste of trees and ink!) For small business owners, this means all company information must be made available across a wide range of local listings online to ensure customers can find your site.

As of June 2014, nearly 69% of global searches were conducted on Google. That’s a huge number! But you may be wondering why Google is the top choice for most users. There are other search engines out there, so what gives?

It’s really quite simple. When someone searches for a local business or service, Google combines relevant search data with maps, store hours, site information, and more to create a virtual company profile. It’s visually appealing and easy to use. You can find exactly what you’re looking for with only a few clicks.  If you don’t have your business listed with Google (or across any other major small business listings online), you run the risk of your potential customers going to your competitors rather than your store.

So here’s the fast and hard truth: small business listings are essential to the success of your business.

Especially for companies who have a lot of competitors. Even if your company has been around for years and has a lot of word of mouth advertising success behind it, you need to be listed online. It’s simply the easiest and fastest way to appeal to new customers. Furthermore, even old customers might want to look at your website, look up your phone number, or take a peek at your store hours, and the best way to find those is through small business listings on Google.

Don’t believe us? Here are a few facts that will definitely change your mind:

59% of consumers use Google every month to find a good business. And of these consumers, over 70% value what they find in the results. This data can’t make it any more clear: if your business doesn’t show up in a local search, you’re missing out on people who are not only trying to find businesses like yours, but you’re also missing out on people who are very likely to trust your listing and stop in to your store. Consumers are looking monthly—be there for them.

74% of searches for small business listings take place on Google. Consumers are choosing to look through Google before any other online listings--There are even different listings available for your business depending on your country! And yet, Google dominates the searches, so you need to be absolutely sure you’re listed on this search engine powerhouse!

Claim your small business listings on Google to give yourself a competitive edge. By claiming your listings on Google, you give yourself a huge advantage over your competitors who haven’t done so. You can not only link to your site, but you can add pictures, let customers leave reviews for you, and improve the likelihood that your business will be found when customers search for products or services related to your business. It’s just common sense!

But Google isn’t the end-all, be-all of small business listings.

The success and prevalence of Google is obvious in this situation. If you do not get listed across Google, you’re doing your small business a disservice. But there are other places people look, too: Superpages, Yelp, WhiteSpark, Manta, eLocal, Brownbook, Yellow Pages, and many more. It can be time-consuming to make sure you’re listed consistently across all directories. Furthermore, it’s helpful to have your content optimized to ensure people can find you under your choice of keywords.

At Internet Local Listings, we’d be happy to help you out with this entire process, getting you listed across all directories and small business listings. Whether you choose to use the info you’ve found here and give it a go on your own, or you’d like us to help you with your marketing efforts, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article in our Back to Basics series!

 

Read more Back to Basics for Small Businesses:
1. What is SEO?
2. What is Social Media?
3. What is Organic Ranking?
4. Why Your Company Needs a Digital Marketing Firm
5.  Blogging for Beginners

Best 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Benefits of Social Media Networking for Small Businesses Has your company been planning a social media marketing campaign? Do you already have a campaign running? Whether you’re a small business with a small budget, or a medium-sized business looking to invest more in a marketing campaign, social media is an integral part of your advertising approach.

If you’re on the fence about utilizing social media, here are the best 5 benefits of social media marketing that are sure to change your mind.

  1. Most businesses report seeing vast improvements in customer engagement when using social media. According to Social Media Examiner, a whopping 92% of small businesses reported their social media efforts generating more exposure for their businesses. That’s no small number of business owners! Makes us wonder what the other 8% saw. This doesn’t take into consideration, however, how frequently the sites were updated, nor does it say how much money was spent in the process.
  2. 3 in 5 small businesses said they gained customers through social media. Amanda Sibley at Hubspot reports that the majority of small businesses found that they’ve actually increased sales simply by staying up-to-date with social media platforms. Even if they didn’t spend a lot of money on advertising, the simple act of updating with fresh content helped them rank better and better communicate with customers.
  3. Social media marketing budgets are expected to double in the next year. So what does this have to do with your small business? It simply means that more people are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Right now, there is still a lot of competition on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But with visits to Google Plus rising (Google+ receives 1.2 billion visits per month, whereas Facebook nets 809 million),and Tumblr and Pinterest still holding users’ attention up to 4x longer than other sites, it’s worth it to investigate which other social media platforms would benefit your company—and to do so sooner rather than later. The benefits of social media marketing are almost indisputable in this area!
  4. People still read through the ads on social media sites. According to Social Media Today, 60% of LinkedIn users have clicked on an ad on the site, and 43% of U.S. marketers have obtained at least one new customer through LinkedIn. Those statistics alone should make you stop to consider whether your business could be benefitting from networking on LinkedIn. Likewise, other social media sites also have a great effect on traffic: Almost 60% of all social media-referred traffic to B2B websites comes from just three networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  5. Mobile coupons placed on social media sites get more clicks. As stated by Local Vox, Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons and mobile ads get 3x the clicks. By strategically incorporating mobile coupons to your social media marketing plan, you’ll see an increase in customer engagement as well as purchases.

For more information on the benefits of social media marketing, you can contact one of the Internet Local Listings representatives here or read through our plans to see if you’re ready to take the leap into social media!