Ever since we started SkyBlox in late 2007, we've been thrust into the local online media scene and become de facto experts in the process. Always looking to support local businesses we teamed up with our friends over at Citysearch and Yelp in the past few months to conduct social media town hall meetings at local chambers of commerce and business associations.
The main theme of the sessions is how local businesses/neighborhoods should best wade their way through the wild west that is social online media. Many businesses are participating, but not efficiently in most cases. Simply participating at a basic level doesn't guarantee positive results. It has to be done right. And we think we have some helpful ideas. The ideas and thoughts have been well received by the neighborhood businesses so we put together a primer. Here's a summary.
#1 Your website is fine, but it is becoming less useful. Aggregation websites (e.g. Citysearch) and new technology (e.g. text messages) are more relevant to your target customers. Your customers are rarely going to your individual website. Google yourself and see what websites come up in the top three: it’s often not your website, rather Yelp or Citysearch.
#2 Setup a Twitter account. Twitter is the fastest growing online tool right now and it’s 100% free. Setting-up an account only takes a few minutes. Once you do, search for people in your neighborhood (or interested in your neighborhood) and follow them.
#3 Use the free tools offered by Yelp. Go to www.yelp.com/business to set up your free account and claim your business’ page. Upload pictures of your business, check to make sure your address, website, and store hours are correct. Send private messages or post publicly in response to your reviewers.
#4 Setup a free SkyBlox account. Whatever you broadcast will be seen in their 100+ hotspots around Atlanta. And if you offer Wi-Fi, you might want to consider their Wi-Fi marketing. Besides being able to advertise in real-time to your Wi-Fi users, SkyBlox Wi-Fi allows you to gather email addresses from your Wi-Fi users (e.g. iPhones) for your email newsletter.
#5 Facebook can be great for invites to events. It takes just a few clicks to set up an event, then invite everyone you are friends with to come, which then gives you yes-no-maybe boxes like an evite.
#6 With all of these online tools, the content should be relevant to your customers and you should be having fun putting it out. If not, it’s unlikely that your customers will care about it.
And the most basic, but effective tool…
#7 If you don’t already have one, email newsletters are very popular and effective and there are lots of programs (e.g. Constant Contact) that make them very easy to produce. Even if your newsletter is a monthly sent to your basic friends and family, this still gets the word out in one quick note.