Utilizing Facebook for your Marketing Needs

do-you-have-facebookFacebook … it’s not just something our daughter uses to keep in touch with her friends.  For instance, she’s always praising its ability to send and receive up-to-the-minute status updates.  She recently got her first cell phone and within minutes of posting this on her Facebook account, she had at least six replies from her friends saying things like, “Wow!” “That’s so cool!” “Text me!” If she can use this platform to keep her friends apprised of her social life, you too can use it as a marketing tool to share your business’s story and vision with the world.

Consider these facts for why Facebook is a great marketing platform:

  • More than 400,000,000 people are active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook on any given day
  • More than 35 million users update their status each day
  • More than 60 million status updates are posted each day
  • More than 3 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month
  • More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each week

These figures alone demonstrate that millions of people turn to Facebook on a daily basis to keep in touch with the world around them.

Another great thing about Facebook is that it’s free.  I hear many retailers say they are currently spending around $25,000 a month to advertise in the print, radio, TV and online media.  But with Facebook, you can display your business’s vision, values, service standards and procedures to your customers at no charge.  It even allows you to add your company logo, upload video and audio content, and even post blogs to your account.  These are the exact same marketing strategies you’re probably spending a lot to implement.  Therefore, it makes sense to compliment your current strategy with a free marketing tool.

Just because you have a Facebook page, people will not automatically visit it.  Make people aware of your page and draw them to it.  Begin by inserting your Facebook logo on all of your current ads, brochures, emails and even business cards.  You’ll quickly notice an increase in your online ‘friends.’ Take the opportunity to utilize Facebook’s many features – mailing list, sharing videos, importing blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations – to share your business’s goals with your new online friends.

Facebook has helped facilitate growth and proven to be a key marketing tool for numerous businesses.  Because of this, I’m confident Facebook will allow your company to reach a broad demographic that traditional marketing may have missed.

This article was authored by David Lively, a contributor for publications such as Western Retailer and Furniture World, for Imagine Retailer.

Facebook Ain’t a Fad, Pt. 2

…continued from Part 1.  We shared with you five easy tips to begin successfully marketing your business on Facebook and non-traditional platforms.  Those were just the beginning steps.  The following five steps are the conclusion to this series and are intended to give you a complete picture of how to use Facebook to tell your story to the world.

Great marketing is about how well you tell your story – regardless of the medium.

Here are proven marketing techniques to make your Facebook page a powerful piece of your marketing mix:

  • Direct marketing is key: Facebook allows you to communicate to your entire fan base with a single post. Drive traffic to your page, announce events, or share news, design tips, or other customer friendly communication. But don’t overuse it. Just as you wouldn’t email a customer five times a day, do not send Facebook direct messages five times either.
  • Get new email subscribers: Facebook provides a powerful static FBML. This tool allows you (with a very small amount of help from your webmaster) to create a landing page designed to help you communicate directly with your potential customers what you want them to do. I suggest this is the perfect opportunity to build the size of your email list.
  • Know your fan base: The Insights tool allows you to see metrics on your fans, such as how many comments and interactions you have, the number of active fans you have in various age categories, the growth of your fan base, where your fans live, and more. I’m not telling you this is the only research information you will ever need, but it is a nice high level view of the people who are following you.
  • Shop your competition: You had better be shopping your competitors everywhere else, so why not on Facebook? See what they’re doing to promote their page and engage fans. Take note of the features they’re using, how they interact with visitors, the type of content and how frequently they post, and their growth rate.
  • Use every feature: Facebook is packed with tools for sharing videos, importing your blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations, and on and on. Literally there are hundreds of ways to interact use them all to your advantage. Don’t expect to gain maximum following without maximum effort.

Facebook is a powerful tool. Take a few hours to learn how to use its many options to drive traffic to your business. Don’t fall into the trap of companies like Concord or Bennett. “Who?” you ask. In 1907, these buggy companies believed they would always have a customer base. Three years later the number of automobiles surpassed buggies in the United States.

If traditional media is all you’re willing to consider, perhaps you should buy a Bennett wagon on eBay to deliver it.

This is part two of a series recently published in the June-July issue of Western Retailer magazine.

Facebook Ain’t a Fad, Pt. 1

Social media has become the rage of marketing in the furniture business. Those who have taken a “wait and see” attitude will soon figure out this type of media is here to stay. At last count, Facebook had over 400,000,000 active users.  With these massive numbers, it is time to get on the Facebook bandwagon!  Here are some great tips on how to market your business to a new audience with a free and interactive tool.

Great marketing is about how well you tell your story – regardless of the medium.

Here are proven marketing techniques to make your Facebook page a powerful piece of your marketing mix:

  • Advertise your page: People will NOT come just because you build it. That only happens in the movies. In order for people to know your Facebook page exists, you have to tell them. Include the Facebook icon on your and TV advertising, and link to your page from your website and blog. Make sure your Facebook page is properly set up to link back to your website.
  • Build your brand: Mention your page in brochures, direct mail, business cards, email signatures, advertisements, packing slips, fulfillment materials – in short, everywhere. Don’t assume your customers will find you. Using Facebook and other social media logos in your traditional advertising will help potential customers know you have an understanding of how communication is done today.
  • Share your soul. Facebook Fan Pages are a great place to share lots of company information. This is the perfect place to share your mission or value statement, explain your policies, procedures, and special services to your customer base – even post store hours and parking information. Your Facebook page is also a great place to include links for newsletter sign ups, email sign ups, and links to your other social media outlets like YouTube or Twitter.
  • Get them to your Web site: While we all believe our logos are super cool and easily recognizable, I would suggest you use the space designed for uploading a photo to show your company web address. Just because there is space available in the body of your page doesn’t mean your customers will find it down there.
  • Content is king: Marketing experts have known the power of content for years, and the same holds true online. The more information you provide, the better your page will be at attracting, converting, educating, turning on, and retaining your customers. Post something to your wall at least once a day, though two or three times is better. Also, adjust your wall settings to allow fans to post comments, photos, links, and videos. Train your staff to help you.

These five tips will help you to begin making your Facebook page a powerful marketing tool.  However, I have five more great pieces of advice to give you in the upcoming days.  Be sure to return and get the full-scoop on how to successfully tell your story using non-traditional media.

This is part one of a series recently published in the June-July issue of Western Retailer magazine.

SEO Strategy

Part 3 of 3

seo www

Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:

Flow

Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.

Updates

Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

Glossary of Key SEO Terms

Part 2 of 3

seo

Understanding these key SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy:

Title

Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces.

  • Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture”
  • Example: “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture”

Keywords

Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison.

  • Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses
  • Example: “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA”

Body text

The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on your living room page in attempt move your site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2% keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5%. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer.

  • Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture form ABC Furniture!
  • Example: From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality, and value to your home.

Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page.

  • Example: Living Room Furniture
  • Example: Directions to ABC Furniture

URL

Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider columbussolidwoodfurniture.com. Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be www.abcfurniture.com

Links

Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do.

  • Example: “Click here for a price quote.”
  • Example: “Explore your furniture design possibilities.

Inbound links

Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so.

  • Example: www.popularlocalblog.com/abc-furniture-is-the-place-to-shop
  • Example: www.marketplacespammer.com/abc-furniture

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 3 will outline an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

How and Why to Utilize SEO

Part 1 of 3

seo001

Used to be, the company with the biggest Yellow Page ad won the local search wars. Businesses vied for newspaper ads above the fold, billboards at prime intersections, drive time radio and prime time TV.

Now, when print media is experiencing cutbacks, layoffs, and declining readership, it comes as no surprise that businesses are turning to online marketing alternatives to reach customers. Where many print media companies require a minimum commitment to display an ad over so many issues, website space and domain names can be purchased for low annual fees. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites like Google and Yahoo allows site owners to set their own budgets and targets when setting up campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the new normal for businesses looking to compete in the 21st century. Once a niche product, SEO will continue to gain ground into the near future. According to the “Search Marketing Trends: Back to Basics” report from eMarketer, $1.5 billion was spent on Search Engine Optimization in 2008 – a number that is expected to increase 153% to $3.8 billion by 2013. (Source: Brafton.com)

seo chart

Taking even a fraction of money from your radio or print budget and setting it aside for online strategies can have a profound effect on the visibility of your business. Be sure to research the best SEO companies to determine what services are offered and which company is suited to meet your needs.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explains why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 will define an SEO Glossary. Part 3 will lay out an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.