Your website is the cornerstone of all your online marketing; it's what people find when they search for a local business type or a specific product by name or by model number. People go to Google with an instigated need for an immediate purchase, when they need a specific service, or when they need to start research on a longer term decision making process. Those with immediate needs will take action based on what they see on your website or your social accounts. Those looking for an immediate purchase will look for an online product catalog before visiting you in person. Someone needing a service, other than to buy a product will likely read your Yelp and Google reviews before hiring you.
Social Media For Bookmarking
When it comes to the commitment of very large purchase or a long term project they are considering, the potential customer is more likely to connect with you socially as a way to bookmark your store. Once they decide to follow you, it's your responsibility to use your social accounts to show them you are honest and transparent about the quality of your work, and the service you provide.
The time you spend initially setting up your website and your online catalog, and then maintaining it monthly, will help generate more sales from people searching for a local business. Those are the quick sales, the utility sales, the fashion sales, the birthday gifts, and the self purchases. However, the time you invest into your social media accounts will help capture the larger, long term sales, high ticket sales, long term projects, and also, your repeat sales.
The New Equality
Successful small businesses have figured out how to attract the new generation of buyers by using their website and social media accounts equally. That was important, so let me repeat it. Your website is not a standalone method of online marketing today, nor are your social media accounts. They must be used together and they must complement each other.
The process starts with perfecting your website and your mobile site, and then adding a catalog or ecommerce of some type. At that point, you can share information from your website to your social media accounts to build those longer term relationships. However, your social media sharing needs to make sense for your audience's attitude and point of view; otherwise, they will ignore you.
Ever Changing Social Landscape
Social media usage has transformed from its original written status message updates into a multimedia playground where imagination takes center stage. Whereas Facebook and Twitter were originally places where friends were posting inane status updates like "I'm drinking a beer on my couch after a long day of work." Now it's more likely that the same person would post a selfie of them sitting on the couch with the beer in one hand, the TV behind them, and a cat on their lap. In fact, the millennial generation is further likely to use the Boomerang App on their smartphone to create a moving image showing them drinking that beer while the cat is attacking their arm. In addition to Boomerang, you can also create short videos to share through Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
It's not just the millennial generation that is overly immersed in social media, I've witnessed several people of ages ranging from 20 to 50 carry out full conversations with their friends using memes instead of written comments. Keep in mind that social media is where people go for fun, so what you post needs to be visually interesting enough to interrupt their daily routine; it is the new type of interruption marketing.
What You Should Post On Social Media
The use of images and photos to convey your message is more important today than in previous years. The big Madison Avenue marketing agencies of yesteryear spent a lot of time crafting the perfect copy for an ad, and some might argue that long form sales letters still work today, but perhaps not on social media. Those using social media want to see a photo that will quickly resonate with them and convey 1,000 words without reading. Sure, you should also include written copy, but it's the secondary message now. On social networks, it's the visual media that will capture attention first.
We've moved beyond simple text posts, and shared links from your website. Facebook has recently changed its interface to allow attractive color backgrounds for text posts of about 110 characters or less. This has lead to a resurgence of shorter text posts again, but these are not usually useful for businesses. It's still better for businesses to post photos.
The white background product photographs used on your website are there to help sell your products, but those photos will be quite boring on social media. Instead of sharing your website photos or a website link, you should be using photos with colorful backgrounds, or descriptive videos, or creating animations, or even create memes by referencing pop culture to the products and services you provide.
The Never Ending Time Suck
Website management and social media management are both daunting tasks. Some websites are easy to update while others require full time jobs to manage, it all depends on the website software you've chosen. There are many tools to help you manage social media, like Hootsuite and Post Planner, as well as dozens of smartphone apps. I use both Hootsuite and Post Planner, but I also use the smartphone app called Followers Pro to track the success of my social media posts. You should experiment with different social media apps on your phone and the different ways you can post photos, video clips, and animations. Find the easiest process for your own posting process.
Choosing the right social network for your business all depends on your marketing strategy and if you can reach your target audience through the network. The current popular networks are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; you can also look at Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.
Go Live: The Bonus Social Activity
Live streaming video is growing in popularity and I recommend it for event announcements, event reporting, product demonstrations, and live Q&A when possible. Popular choices for live video broadcasting include Periscope, Facebook, and YouTube.
The Periscope social network is easy to use through its simple video broadcasting smartphone app. Your audience on Periscope will grow quickly if you broadcast a few times a week. Broadcasting live through YouTube and Facebook has the added benefit of immediately archiving the videos for future viewings.
Even though your website is the cornerstone of your online marketing, all retail industries are being forced to learn how to maintain long term relationships with their customers through the social networks that the customers choose to use.
A standalone business website is no longer enough. The new normal for online marketing includes routine website updates and social media engagement with your customers.