3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really Work

3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really WorkOnline reputation management is an uphill battle for every small business.  In a June 2008 study conducted by Opinion Research Corp., 83% of consumers say online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions. It seems that the Internet’s ability to connect consumers has proven its staying power.

In a market where word of mouth and online reviews weigh heavily on consumer minds, small businesses need to be proactive in making sure customers (old and new) have access to fair representations of your services. While there is no simple solution for curing online reputation woes, there are a few things you can do to help your business take matters into your own hands.

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8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social Media

8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social MediaEngaging effectively with customers is very important for the success of any business. Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have made it very easy for companies to interact with their customers. Instead of making phone calls or sending emails, customers can raise their questions or complaints by simply posting a tweet or status update on these social networks. This makes it easy for companies to keep track of conversations about their brand or business.

Here are some tips which can enhance interaction with customers via social media.

1. Stay updated

Social media is a very dynamic and constantly evolving field. Find out which apps or platforms can make your customer interaction the most effective and where the majority of your customer base can be found and stay updated on those sites with your accounts.

2. Hire the right staff

Running several social media accounts can be a very daunting task to do alone. Look into hiring a social media professional who can manage your accounts and use the appropriate tools to help make customer relations easier. Alternatively, if you don’t have the budget for a social media manager, you could look into getting some of your staff trained on how to use social media for customer service.

3. Be active

Having a Twitter, Google+ or Facebook account is not enough; you need to engage your customers actively. You can do this by creating a search alert for conversations about your industry, business or brand. If you find someone complaining about your product, service or business, be sure to respond swiftly. On the other hand, any compliments should be shared or retweeted.

4. Demonstrate product benefits

Social media can be a great channel for demonstrating the benefits of your product. For instance, if you are selling a detachable recliner, show your customers how it is assembled, where it can be used and how to maintain it. This can be done using video or images. Videos can be uploaded on video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, Flickr, Dailymotion, Veoh, Metacafé, and Break, and then shared on your social media profiles.

5. Don’t just talk about your company or products

If you are always promoting your products or company, your followers and fans will eventually get bored and find somewhere else to go. What people want is helpful and inspirational information. Be sure you provide this information, with occasional references back to your brand.

6. Address complaints and questions promptly

Whenever customers share their complaints and questions through social media, make sure you respond as fast as possible. This will show customers that you are listening to their problems and want to help out, thus enhancing their trust.

7. Don’t edit or delete negative comments

Negative comments can help you identify flaws in your products or services, thus enabling you to make necessary improvements. When responding to such comments, be as gracious and objective as possible. Offer an apology where your business or company made a mistake, and gently correct any of the customer’s misinterpretations. How you handle a negative comment could make all the difference between winning and losing a customer.

8. Be proactive

When your company or business faces major issues such as product recalls or a crashing website, you need to be proactive. Let your followers and fans know what is going on before they get a chance to complain. Assure them that you have already identified the problem and are working on solving it.

Charles Mburugu is a professional blogger who likes sharing tips about internet marketing and ecommerce. Currently, he is writing for Platinum Freight.

3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest In

3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest InThere are staples and initiatives that every business needs in order to succeed. From marketing efforts to employees and equipment, you’re going to need to pay it forward in order to gain results. After all, the nature of business is to make investments.

However, the question lies in understanding where to make those investments and when to pull back. Read on to discover three areas within your small business that, with a little understanding and tact, will prove your efforts to be worthwhile.

Marketing

No matter how amazing your business offering is, it won’t mean much if no one is aware of it. Marketing is essential for any business that wants to bring in new business while educating and entertaining a consumer group. However, when it comes to setting a budget, where should you save and splurge?

Ad campaigns (consisting of flyers, banners or direct mail) can provide you with a return on investment both in a growing customer base and a more solidified brand image. The key to making your investment worth it is to have a consistent message across the board that speaks to your niche’s needs and wants.

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8 Guidelines for Effective Video Marketing

8 Guidelines for Effective Video MarketingPeople love watching videos. With almost 1 billion active users, YouTube has become one of the most visited sites online. Many businesses have discovered the immense potential of video marketing and are now using it to promote their products and services – here are some tips which will help you derive the biggest benefits from video marketing.

1. Understand your audience.

Before posting any video, you need to get familiar with your target audience. What are their ages? What are they passionate about? What problems are they dealing with? What kind of videos would appeal best to your audience? Once you have answers to such questions, you will then be able to carry out an effective video marketing campaign.

2. Think outside the box.

There are thousands of videos on YouTube competing for people’s attention. For your video to stand out of the crowd, you will need to think out-of-the-box. Come up with a creative and radical concept which will capture the imagination of your viewers. You can get some inspiration by looking at what others have already done and borrowing some ideas. However, don’t make the mistake of duplicating entirely the work of others.

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4 Essential Elements to Building Your Business’ Bridge to Conversion

4 Essentials to Building Your Business’ Bridge to ConversionIt’s one thing to get people’s attention towards your business, but what use is having all the recognition in the world if you can’t influence them to actually engage with your business? Once you’ve got them at your site, you need to give them a reason to stay there and click on a link to register an account, subscribe to a newsletter, order a product, or even just look around and find out more what it is you do.

But how do you accomplish this? Here are four fundamental elements that you need to build on to start getting conversions on your company website.

User Experience

How your target audience feels about interacting with your website is one of the very first things that you need to take into consideration. Your site needs to provide the information your visitors are looking for. It has to be easily navigable for different devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.), browsers and connection speeds while still maintaining a credible and compelling design that reinforces your business’ brand.

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How to Hire a Social Media Freelancer

How to Hire a Social Media FreelancerAs an entrepreneur, marketing is one of the most important parts of your business. Over the last decade, social media has “liked” and “favorited” its way into being a critical means to reach an online audience, regardless of industry. Rather than hiring on another full time W-2 employee, consider hiring a social media freelancer to help unlock your brand’s social power.

Pre-Hire Tips

Work your network

More than ever, there are people qualified to manage social media channels for a small business. There are most likely people within your own network to work along with, especially freelancers who handle multiple clients. Feel free to use sites like odesk.com or freelancer.com, but a referral is always best.

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5 Ways to Market Your Small Business

5 Ways to Market Your Small BusinessBoth large and small businesses struggle with finding the best way to market their products or services. While all kinds of companies use similar marketing techniques, the way small businesses apply the techniques will be different due to the smaller demographic and customer base. There are five basic ways small businesses can market themselves effectively.

1) Give your customers free stuff

The customer should be rewarded for their loyalty and support by getting free or discounted stuff. Businesses can put coupons in community mailers or offer coupons on receipts for future purchases. Coupons in mailers can help draw new customers to your business while receipt coupons keep customers returning every week to get deals and free items. Use these methods to offer customers free trials or free samples as well. Offering customers the chance to try out a product or service will make them more comfortable purchasing it in the future.

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The Importance of Online Transparency in Business

The Importance of Online Transparency in BusinessThere was a time when big brands had a lot of control over how they were perceived and how they were portrayed in the media. Consumers had limited options when it came to communicating with brands, and the companies themselves had the power to create demand for products simply through being good at PR. Those days ended with the advent of widespread internet access and the rise of social media. Today, the power is in the hands of the consumer.

People now expect to be able to have two-way conversations with brands. Bad products are ridiculed, and news of poor customer service or unethical business practices spreads quickly.  Good news travels fast too, and even small gestures can go viral and have a huge impact on your brand’s bottom line. There is also a new generation of influencers in the form of bloggers, YouTube users and internet celebrities – and any bad experiences they have with a brand will be shared with their followers and are sure to make a big impact there.

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Why Peer Recommendations Matter for Your Business

Why Peer Recommendations Matter for Your BusinessThere was a time when word of mouth was the best way to spread the buzz surrounding a service or a product to potential customers. Now more than ever, word of mouth advertising has come back into vogue through social media. By harnessing the power of tweets via Twitter and status updates on Facebook, you can inspire your current customers to make peer recommendations to their friends and neighbors, which increases the bottom line of your brand for the long term.

If your company has little or no money available for advertising or marketing, social media represents a powerful tool to get the word out about your product or service. A customer referral from a satisfied patron to his or her friends can carry far more weight than even the most persuasive or expensive advertising. Best of all, you can launch and manage highly effective social media campaigns without blowing your company’s budget.

By encouraging your present customers to spread the word about the great products and services you have to offer, you can save money on advertising, while generating trust among potential customers. As a result, you can concentrate your time, effort and money into producing the best possible products and services. With the winning combination of excellent offerings and trusted peer referrals, your company has a better chance of enjoying a healthy profit margin now and in the future.

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