is a small business directory site that's tied to social media. It offers advertising options and additional resources to help businesses increase their online exposure. For more specific information about Manta, see their FAQ page: http://www.manta.com/coms2/page_faq
At this point, most small business owners are probably pulling out their hair and asking "What?! How am I supposed to know what to do with all these sites? There's not just Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn -- now you're saying there's Yelp, and Manta?
!" Yes, not to mention StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Chime.in, Mightybell, Foursquare, Tumblr, and countless other networking sites... The short answer to the question as to whether Manta can help your business, is "Yes." However, the longer answer is that Manta and other sites can also be a distraction if you are being pulled in too many directions -- and end up lost in the forest of social media sites.
As with multi-tasking, the more you do and the more you try to take on at once, the more diluted your efforts become and the less effective you become at each task or site with which you become involved. The key to your success is to learn to master each one individually, and to focus your efforts where you are seeing the most positive responses. Also, a lesson to remember is that everything takes time. You cannot expect results overnight; if you keep casting your net and then pulling it up right away, then the likelihood of your coming home with any fish is slim.
Instead, begin building a strategy and focusing on how you can take advantage of the various sites out there. Do some research to find out the type of populations that use different social media sites (for example, Reddit has a higher percentage of male participants, and Manta targets business owners) -- and observe the behavior of the people in these networks before jumping in and trying to "sell" to them. Strong relationships require many conversations and actions that build trust, and this is no different online than it is in person.
It may be a good idea to wet your feet in different social media sites to begin spreading the name of your business and what you have to offer. However, you will likely fall flat on your face if you try to hit the ground running.
If you can afford it, seriously think about finding someone with more experience who can help you manage your online presence and social media profiles. However, if you're on a budget and looking to teach yourself how to better market your business on the Internet, make sure not to create an Information Overload roadblock for yourself. Instead, wade through each site slowly, explore the resources out there and learn at your own pace. Or if you're up for a challenge, think about going on a Social Media Diet
to fast-track your way to being an online marketing guru.
Think about following a "Social Media Diet," a process that we're recommending for anyone who wants to streamline their activity online and make the most of social media. As we are currently looking at The Dukan Diet
to help with our own weight loss goals, we came up with a matching four-step process to help you get to where you want to be in terms of online usage and social media.
- Social Media Attack Phase: Spend a short period of intense focus on key Internet tools, eliminating the "extraneous"
- Social Media Cruise Phase: Introduce additional computer activities, but still primarily use core, productive tools
- Social Media Consolidation Phase: Bring back some of your old Internet habits, but structure your time carefully
- Social Media Stabilization Phase: Give yourself more freedom to do what you want on the WWW, but keep some of the new good habits that you've learned -- and look for expert support and guidance to keep you on the right track
Key aspects of these phases are maintaining consistency and maximizing your time and resources.
In Phase 1, you'll want to eliminate time spent on things that are not productive (shopping and browsing online stores, playing games, chatting, etc.) and focus on learning all you can about how to use social media and online tools to accomplish your goals -- which might include increasing the revenue for your business, creating more awareness of your brand, finding out more about what your clients want, and reaching more prospects. Depending on what your goals are, spend 100% of your time online and on social media doing activities that will help you get closer to what you want to achieve from a business perspective. These activities can include: educating yourself about the tools available at sites like Social Media Examiner
, working on a blog with content that will differentiate yourself from your competitors, posting information and interacting with your contacts in meaningful ways on the most popular social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter). Also, set up an auto-responder and opt-in service such as the one offered by Aweber
(example of an email opt-in box is at the top right of this blog) so you can better manage your business contacts and begin connecting your email promotions and newsletters with your social media activity.
In Phase 2, work on other building up your repertoire online, creating additional accounts on less widely used social media sites and looking for other ways to make new connections. For example, explore the directory at Mevvy
, a resource that features a collection of powerful Internet tools.
In Phase 3, you can start doing some of the other fun, but not-so-productive activities that you eliminated in Phase 1, but keep it at a minimum (e.g., allot yourself an hour twice a week).
In Phase 4, you can spend the time however you would like online, but maintain a cadence with your productive social media and Internet activity (e.g., posting some new content at least once every other day), and allot a regular time at least once a week to focus on the intense activity and tools that you learned in Phases 1 and 2.
Finally, consider hiring a Social Media "Personal Coach," or someone who can offer customized, online business consulting. It will free up your time to do what you do best (selling your products, offering another type of service, or whatever else you do). By outsourcing Social Media set-up and maintenance tasks, you may be better able to leverage the power of the Internet.
If you are feeling like you're being gorged with information overload, try our "Social Media Diet" -- and register to get access to additional resources to help support you. For a limited time, new registrants on our site will receive a personal email and offer for a free 30-minute social media phone consultation tailored just for you and your business. Sign up below:
There are several methods to promote your business online and, with the rising population of Internet users, the impact of your efforts can have a far wider reach than traditional methods of promotion. In this post we'll share some action steps; feel free to skip over ones you've already done, or choose the ones you feel will have the most impact to your business.
Before outlining our ideas to get started with online and social media promotion, we'd like to share a couple of videos that showcase the influence of social media and provide a visual description of social media. Sayitvisually.com
's video highlights that the key to social media is the 1:1 relationship -- emphasizing the conversations we have at a personal level.
Now that you are convinced that social media is the right way for you to promote your business, your first action step would be to set up accounts (profiles and pages) for you business on the major social networking sites that generate the most traffic:
- http://www.facebook.com (set up a personal profile for yourself as well as a page and a group for your business)
- http://www.youtube.com (create an account where you can showcase your business through videos)
- http://www.twitter.com (set up a "handle" that you can use to "tweet" about specific topics and "mention" others)
- http://www.linkedin.com (create a personal/professional profile and also a company profile tied to your personal one)
- https://plus.google.com (add connections to "circles" and separate them based on their relationship to you)
Once you've set yourself up on the major social sites, you may want to explore other networking sites and create accounts at additional sites such as those listed here: http://www.focus.com/fyi/50-social-sites-every-business-needs-presence
Also, keep an eye out for other new or less widely publicized social media sites that may help you develop key relationships that can help you expand your business. For example, we like:
- http://www.mightybell.com (create and participate in "experiences" that are generated by other users, and "smile")
- http://chime.in (find people with similar interests, join communities, and view "chimelines")
- http://www.meetup.com (discover local groups with similar interests and participate in online and in-person "meetups")
- http://www.quora.com (ask questions to a community of connected users, and follow specific topics relevant to you)
You can use other online tools to monitor, manage and grow your social media accounts. Resources include:
- https://www.socialoomph.com (automate messages and follows on Twitter -- thanks to the free Twitter training at http://jeffknowles.socialmediaautomation.com for sharing this resource)
- http://www.twiends.com (find Twitter users with similar interests as you, and exchange follows)
- http://sproutsocial.com (monitor all your social media accounts in one place)
- http://www.klout.com (gauge your level of influence based on your social media activity)
- There are also applications and communities on Facebook that you can explore to expand your presence there.
Once you have all your accounts set up, you can use a number of techniques to engage your audience on the various sites (we'll discuss some of these techniques in another post). We also suggest that you consider placing ads online such through popular services like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook Ads. Often you can get free "ad credit" to test out these services. For example, American Express is offering small business owners $100 in free Facebook ad credit through their page, which is creating a buzz around the upcoming "Small Business Saturday" on November 26, 2011 (see details at http://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday
Finally, we want to remind you again that the key to social media is still the 1:1 relationship -- and the heart of your business is your relationships with your customers and partners. By building strong relationships, you will be able to establish a trusted presence online and those who know you will want to share their relationship with you with others who are in their networks.
A large chunk of small businesses actually do not have a website, and an even higher percentage are not actively involved on social media sites. So the first question may be, why should you jump start your business online? The key reasoning to building a presence on the Internet would be to differentiate yourself from other businesses, to connect with the growing population of online and social media users, and to engage with your clients and prospects at any time (whether your store is closed or your sleeping, there are people out there browsing the WWW). Given this reasoning, here are a few quick suggestions to help make your business stand out on the web:
- Create a strong website that will attract visitors.
- Develop content that will intrigue and engage your target audience.
- Implement an automated system for collecting client and prospect details so you can appropriately follow up with them.
- Establish a presence on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) so you can be more interactive.
- Offer a way to connect your network with a larger network of individuals, so you can expand your reach.
Given the significance of this topic, we will be creating a series of posts on related issues, with additional actionable steps. For more information and immediate access to resources related to building your business on the Internet and generating more revenue online, please subscribe to our Inkwhy mailing list.
There are many resources available to help individuals and businesses set up Facebook pages that will attract "Likes" -- and also services that will help promote your social media presence so that you can grow your fan base with a targeted audience that is most likely to participate and be interested in what you have to offer.
One way to create an incentive for fans is to provide a download of some sort for liking your page (see free welcome templates and additional ideas at The Social Networking Academy, through the banner above). Also, you can participate in "Like" Ladders, Silent Tagging and other exchanges through Facebook and LinkedIn to grow your fan base (although these exchanges are less likely to get you in front of your specific audience).
Other strategies for generating Facebook fans are provided here:
Good luck in building your Facebook Fan pages, and please also like ours here:http://www.facebook.com/pages/INKwhy/119526094815247
(Please note, we haven't followed all the strategies and suggestions for beefing up our own Facebook page, but we're working on it!)