Category Archives: How to

Boutique Owner Grows Small Business by Using Social Media

Carla Gizzi knows her business. She’s had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn’t disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Facebook and Twitter, How to, Interview

Making Google Work for You: Adwords

Google has lots of great tools, when, if used properly can be a real asset to businesses and non-profits with a small advertising budget.  Let’s take some time to focus on Google Adwords.  Adwords are a great way to bring in business because it allows for highly targeted ad placement.  However, it costs time and money so if you’re planning to set up an account for your business its important to make sure you use the program to its fullest extent.

Adwords, in short, is Google’s pay per click advertising service, this means businesses and other advertisers are only charged when their ad is clicked on.  Advertisers bid for key words or phrases that are relevant to their business (a personal trainer might bid on the word “fitness” or the phrase “work out session”), the cost they end up paying for each word or phrase is determined by the bids of other advertisers.  If an advertiser bids high enough, their ad will appear on Google’s search page every time somebody searches for one of the words or phrases they’ve bid on, when somebody clicks on the ad the advertiser is charged. The ads are minimally invasive and show up on the right hand side of the search page.  Even if you’ve never clicked on one before you have undoubtedly noticed them. 

What’s great about Adwords is not only the fact that you can target customers searching for topics relevant to your business, but you can further target the ads based on things like location of the person searching and the time they are searching.  If you want people to see your ad during store hours you can make sure it only appears between 9 and 5.  If you only want people with in a ten mile radius of your business, you can specify that too.  However using Google Adwords in a way that benefits your business requires knowledge of how to use the system.  For small businesses with a limited budget it’s important that you pay close attention to targeting your ad, wording your ads so they are most effective, and bidding on affordable words that will secure relevant placement.

Google offers the best tutorials on how to use their services. By going to the Adwords home page you can find fantastic tutorials including videos on how to use the service. Google also offers seminars for success that include Adwords 101.  If they offer seminars in your area—sign up!  I attended one on Google Analytics and it was a great experience.

In the past I used a website called Searchenginewatch.com.  They have good write- ups on how to use Adwords, however they were written in 2008 and there have been significant changes to the service since then.  They’re still useful, but I’d recommend what Google has to offer over these how-to’s.

Here are some interesting blogs/articles about the topic:

http://www.thesaleslion.com/google-adwords-your-business-best-friend-or-worst-enemy/

http://ezinearticles.com/?Pay-Per-Click-Advertising—Is-It-Right-For-My-Business?&id=758948

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5852066/google_tools_every_small_business_should.html

Leave a comment

Filed under 101, Google, How to

Hiring Somebody to Help with Social Media: What You Need to Know

An important part of starting up a business is figuring out where it’s worth spending money to save time.  Many people decide that when it comes to social media, time is money and they would rather bring in someone to do the work.  This decision is not a bad one, but it can’t be emphasized enough that one must still understand the ins-and- outs of the social media being used to promote their business.  From strategy to execution, just because you’ve brought in an “expert” to do the work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be knowledgeable about every part of the process.

I have watched several people I know and worked for hire a person to do web design, manage a blog, and post on twitter without having knowledge of what a position like that actually entails.  In my experience this leads to disaster.  Sometimes it’s the employer asking too much, but more often than not it’s the person they hire doing too little.  As a freelancer who has experience working on social media strategy for clients I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a job because the person prior to me didn’t do the work that was asked of them, leaving the business with a big mess to clean up.

For starters, I have to emphasize the importance of hiring the right person to create your website.  It’s the one area where skimping on payment up front will end up costing you money in the long run.  Unless you are already a skilled web designer, or have a best friend or spouse who is: DON’T TRUST FREE OR CHEAP LABOR WITH THIS TASK.  A website is the new storefront and you wouldn’t open your business in a dilapidated building, so you shouldn’t be inviting people to visit a poorly designed, poorly functioning website either.  If you can’t afford a website right away Tumblr has been getting a lot of press recently as a great blogging platform for small businesses because its easy to use.  Facebook can also serve as an interim landing point for people looking to find your business online (check out our Facebook 101 post).

One fantastic way to get some great labor when it comes to managing your social media is through hiring interns.  If you’re near places of higher education that offer a media studies program you can get an intern to come in a few days a week and tweet, Facebook and blog for you.  Students are going to be on top of what’s happening on the social media scene and because they’re there to earn credits they aren’t going to slack or up and leave you (at least hopefully not).  It’s a great opportunity to let a person take some initiative and improve your social media strategy as well as content. After all it’s what they’re studying in school.  However, make sure you have them show you what they’ve done (maybe daily or weekly).  I used to work with a woman who would get interns every semester, giving them social media responsibilities while she focused on more traditional marketing.  Unfortunately, she didn’t take the time to keep up with what they were doing and where/how they were promoting her program online.  When they left at the end of the end of every semester she would find herself back at square one and with a very scattered online presence.  Also, make sure your interns understand your business before you let them loose with social media and give them the content you’d like them to turn into posts on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you choose to hire a freelancer, think carefully about what you want them to do, because often you are paying them by the hour.  As a freelancer, I think my clients often get the most bang for their buck when they come to me knowing exactly what they want and then pay me to execute it.  Unlike with a media studies intern where you can give them the freedom to take initiative with your social media strategy, allowing a freelancer to do this could become quite costly.   I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard clients gripe about past freelancers who didn’t do what they wanted.  It seems to me that it’s because they end up getting charged for the freelancer doing a lot of thinking about social media strategy, but little on the execution side.

I think when making the decision about whether or not to pay for something, or do it yourself, it’s important to sit down and think through, “what do I have time to do?”  Often the answer is that you don’t have time to update your blog, or tweet every day, or engage with Facebook fans regularly.  But, you should make time to review diverse competitor’s media strategies, and develop the online presence you’d like your business to have, how you’d like to be represented, and lastly what kind of social media would work best for you.  Once you know those things, you will have a higher level of success when you bring someone in who can execute it all.

We would like to hear about your hiring experiences…What have you found to be effective and ineffective?

Leave a comment

Filed under Facebook and Twitter, How to