Will Operation Choke Point Affect Your Business?

If you’re not doing anything illegal, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about from the government. Concerns are running high with the introduction of the Department of Justice’s new “Operation Choke Point” initiative, however, after reports that otherwise legally compliant individuals in “morally questionable” industries are having their bank accounts shut down.

The genesis of this operation was an investigation of the payday loan industry that spanned all of 2011 and 2012. Four Oaks Bank of North Carolina was accused of knowingly processing checking account withdrawals made by payday lenders who were extending credit to customers without proper license and charging interest rates that were well in excess of what the law allows. They also allegedly processed payments for internet gambling and Ponzi schemes.

Four Oaks was the first bank to face a lawsuit under Operation Choke Point, and would eventually settle for $1.2 million without admitting wrongdoing. If the operation were limited to driving illegal and usurious lenders out of business, there would likely be very few complaints with it. However, public concern about the program was raised when an April 2014 article in VICE magazine suggested a link between a rash of unexplained closures of the accounts of porn stars and Operation Choke Point.

Banks don’t give reasons for these closures to the public, of course, so the link was entirely speculative on the part of the VICE writer. But the flames were fanned by op-ed pieces written by prominent bankers William Isaac (former FDIC chairman) and Camden Fine (president of the Independent Community Bankers of America), who both suggested that the DOJ was overreaching and targeting entire industries indiscriminately.

The DOJ has not made any formal declaration about the exact businesses Operation Choke Point is focused on, but speculation rests on a 2011 list of “high risk” industries published by the FDIC. The list contains some industries that are inarguably rife with illegal activity – cable box de-scramblers, drug paraphernalia, and Ponzi schemes, for example. But it also lists industries that do a lot of perfectly legal business – coin dealers, firearms sales, pornography, surveillance equipment and tobacco sales among them.

At this point, the connection between Operation Choke Point and anything except for the Four Oaks lawsuit is pure speculation. So how much cause for concern is there if you own or work for a business that the FDIC has tagged as “high risk”?

The FDIC’s original document from 2011 focuses almost solely on third-party payment processors and “remotely created checks”, which are payment authorizations that bear a signature that isn’t an original copy or do not have a signature at all. This was the primary point of abuse in the Four Oaks case. And while the FDIC was perhaps overly broad in naming some of these industries as “high risk”, it does nothing more than to advise banks to be more diligent in examining the account activity of payment processors associated with merchants who work in these industries. There is also still no direct evidence linking this list with Operation Choke Point.

Merchants who work in these industries will want to verify that their payment processor is reputable and operating entirely above board, but there is no evidence right now to indicate that businesses and individuals who are involved in the industries named by the FDIC need to worry about having their bank accounts shut down.

Five Tips for Creating and Monetizing Your Own Web Applications

You could make the case that designing a web application is the easy part of the app creation process; the hard part is actually monetizing it, or earning an income from it. For example, the user interface, or UI, of your web application is one of the most important parts of the application itself. The user interface will be the main area of the application that your users will actively use, so it is important that you ensure it is easily understandable and helps promote other parts of the application that could earn you extra income. Strategies like these can you improve your application and its monetization potential.

# 1: Highlighted Changes
To help ensure that your customers notice when there has been a change since the last time they used or updated the application, it often helps to highlight these differences for them. These changes do not have to be only to the application itself, but simply in its function or purpose; they can even be something as simple as the customer receiving a new message.

Five Tips for Creating and Monetizing Your Own Web Applications
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

# 2: Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to make it easier for your customers to navigate through different parts of the application without having to open a dozen different menus to get what they want. If you decide to incorporate keyboard shortcuts into your user interface, you need to make sure that you either have a shortcut guide or have the keyboard shortcuts written next to the option in the menu.

# 3: Upgrade Options
This aspect of your UI will be used to remind customers that they can get more features by upgrading their accounts on the web application. Including a simple upgrade button in the interface itself that users will see each time they open the application will encourage quite a few free users to upgrade their accounts, simply due to the added convenience factor. Make your upgrade button stand out from the other buttons on the page. Many web application designers will do this by making the button either a yellow or golden color, but the final choice, of course, is entirely up to you.

# 4: Feature Promotion
This point ties in closely with point three. While the free version of your application may be high quality and very useful, it still needs to show the customer all of the other features to which they would have access if they were to upgrade their account. It is best to list the most relevant and appealing features near the upgrade button without taking up a significant amount of room. However, the feature list itself does not really need to stick out, as the upgrade button will attract users’ eyes.

# 5: Color Coding
To make it easier to spot different tools on the user interface, it can often be helpful to color-code the most important features. This will allow users to instantly find what they want after they have used that feature a few times, and it will help them differentiate between all of the different available options when they are a new user. The last thing you want is for a new customer to become overwhelmed by all the different options and just quit using the application you have worked so hard to build.

7 Strategies for Gaining Loyal Customers for Your Online Business

Consider the Pareto principle, commonly known as the 80-20 rule:  80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  While these figures may differ somewhat from one company to another, experienced business owners can testify that repeat customers are responsible for the bulk of their success.

So how can you acquire more of these high-converting customers?  This article examines 7 practical techniques you can implement right away in your own online business:

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make Use of Social Applications to Build Brand Awareness

Out of sight, out of mind.  In a world where countless distractions and competitors are vying for the affections of your customers, social applications offer a powerful solution for positioning your brand.  Use social media platforms to actively engage your customers, letting them know there’s a real person behind the logo.  You can also use e-mail newsletters to great advantage by creating helpful content and keeping customers posted about upcoming sales.  Including incentives such as product coupons within your newsletters will encourage your customers to stay subscribed.  Make use of RSS widgets on your website and invite customers to subscribe to your blog. 

Make Sure Your Company Policies Validate and Protect the Customer

Having overly rigid policies in place can be a business hazard.  Many customers simply won’t buy from a company with a no-returns policy.  This is especially true online, where customers can’t actually see or touch a product until it’s delivered to them.  Be as flexible as possible.

Offer Incentives at Every Opportunity

Let your customers know you value their business by rewarding them.  You might offer an incentive, such as a gift certificate, to a customer who refers you to a friend.  Besides creating a positive experience for existing customers, this has the added benefit of drawing in new clients and promoting your brand by word-of-mouth. 

Another great way to offer incentives is to have a savings program in place for your most loyal buyers.  By rewarding good business, your customers will view a sales transaction as an investment rather than an expense.

Make Your Website Approachable

Approachability is a key factor in building trust.  Make it easy for customers who visit your website to contact you, and be available for questions for as many hours of the day as possible.  Respond quickly and personally to e-mails rather than using an autoresponder.  Besides an e-mail address, your website contact page should include your phone number and a business address.  Consider using a live chat application on your website to address immediate problems. 

Having a comprehensive FAQ section and an About Us section on your website can also be very helpful in alleviating the concerns of first-time buyers.  Simply being open with your customers will establish your reputation as a professional, and new visitors will feel safer knowing you’re not some kind of fly-by-night scam. 

Keep in Touch Year-Round

Don’t just send chocolates on holidays.  Get in touch with your customers on a regular basis – ask them if they’re happy with their latest purchase.  Don’t underestimate the power of small talk.  The more you engage your customers, the more quickly you will build a trust relationship while getting to know a lot about them in the process.  Simply listening to your customers will open up opportunities to make them feel valued and win their loyalty.  This might come in the form of a wedding or a graduation, for which you might send a letter or a gift.  Get creative. 

Be Willing to Negotiate With Difficult Customers

Handle customer complaints as soon as they arise.  Be prepared to be flexible in providing solutions, even if this means bending the rules of your regular policies.  If a customer posts a negative review online, you can harness this to your advantage by responding promptly and politely and resolving the issue as reasonably as possible.  Other customers will trust you more if they see that you’re willing to work with buyers to ensure they’re satisfied with your product or service.  In this way, uncalled-for negative reviews can become a positive marketing tool.

Poll Your Customers

There’s no better way to do market research than to go directly to your customers and ask them how you can improve your product or service.  One of the simplest ways to do this is by adding a poll application to your sales page.  Simple checkout polls are less hassle for the customer than a lengthy survey sent several days after a purchase requiring them to fill out a lot of personal details.  With a quick poll, you might simply ask how a customer’s experience was and how you might improve on it the next time around.  You should also follow up with your customers a day or so after their purchase to make certain they’re satisfied with their product.

By taking advantage of every opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing customers and to win the trust of new ones, you’ll be able to position yourself as the go-to guy for your product or service.

Essential Conversion Tips

There are many ways to drive traffic towards your e-commerce website. Search engine optimization can move your site closer to the top of the search results, pulling in droves of interested visitors. Social media can generate buzz for your brand and a good email list can help keep prospects informed and interested. None of these techniques are worth much, however, if they don’t convert into a sale.

When you’re first starting out, it’s a common error to focus on traffic rather than on leads and sales. True, traffic is the lifeblood of any online enterprise — but only if you can establish a good conversion rate. These tips will help your enterprise to turn clicks into real sales.

Every successful enterprise starts with a solid and effective plan. The same goes for Web-based enterprises. Determine what you’re offering, how you’ll deliver it and what makes your business outstanding. Think about the elements your site will need to communicate with your visitors and what they’ll need in order to make a purchase. The better your focus at the beginning, the less patchy, fragmented or confusing your site will be.

Essential-Conversion-TipsIf your site is already up and running, the first item on your checklist should be your page load times. If there’s one thing that will send prospective customers fleeing, it’s a page that takes too long to load completely. Even a fraction of a second can be enough to cause your visitors to disengage. By streamlining your design and getting rid of any extraneous elements, you can shorten load times and make certain that you’re not keeping your customers waiting.

While multimedia elements such as audio and video can add value to your site, they can also be distracting and irritating. Media should not play automatically or obscure other elements when it launches. If the first thing your visitors have to do when they visit your site is close down an intrusive video or animation, they won’t be well disposed towards buying from you.

Next, examine your site’s overall usability. Your color, font and background choices can affect readability — ditch any low-contrast color schemes, distracting patterns or tiny typefaces. Interestingly, using a larger font size has been shown to improve conversion rates in many cases.

There should be a smooth path from your landing page to the point where a customer can place an order. If you make the process of buying your products too complicated, many people will be discouraged before they ever get as far as your checkout. Include clear pricing for every item and make sure there are easy-to-follow links to different products or sections. You should always include a site map — this is helpful to humans and also to the web crawlers that index your site for search engines like Google.

If you have a lot of different items for sale, don’t try to cram them all onto the first page. Catalog them and make sure that you have a fast, effective search system. Don’t limit the results per page too stringently — consider making the default 75 or 100 items rather than 10 or 20. You could even use an endless scroll, since most people are happier to scroll down the page than they are to click link after link to find the item they want. Just make sure that your automated scrolling element isn’t knocking navigation links off the bottom of the screen.

This final point can never be stressed too much: Registration should always be optional. Trying to force your customers to set up an account for no real reason can seriously damage your sales. Studies have shown that even if a prospective customer has selected their items and is ready to pay, telling them they have to register an account to complete their transaction will cause almost one-third of them to abandon their purchases. Only ask for the minimum amount of information you need to provide your customers with the items they want and reassure them that their privacy will be respected. Offer the opportunity to set up an account if they wish but always give them the option to check out without registering.

Instead, provide social media integration for your visitors. Giving people an easy way to link their Google Plus or Facebook accounts with your site is a more productive way of creating connections than adding an unnecessary registration step.

By keeping websites simple and avoiding common pitfalls such as unnecessary registration, Web-based businesses can avoid losing valuable sales. This article aims to address that problem by offering some helpful advice for those new to Internet marketing and e-commerce. It outlines some general ways in which conversion rates can be improved by making the sales process easier for customers to navigate.

Social Media Tone – Be Careful What You Say and How You Say It

In the world of social media, one of the biggest keys to success is effectively establishing a rapport with followers, friends, and, ultimately, customers. In many circumstances, one of the best ways to do this is to connect with these groups in a conversational, social tone that makes them feel more like they’re having a conversation with a friend than being sold too. That casual, informal tone can do wonders for establishing strong social media connections, but it can also backfire if social media operators aren’t careful to be mindful of what they’re saying and how they say it.

One of the most dangerous situations this can arise from is when social media posts or messages contain a negative tone or connotation. Sometimes the subtlest negativity is enough to cause a problem, even if intentions are good. It might seem like a good idea to make a backhanded comment about a competitor or go on a minor rant about the deficiencies of their products or services, but the reality is that doing so offers almost no upside and has the potential to not only cost a business social media followers, but also to damage their brand image and reputation.

First of all, social media users aren’t stupid, and if they see a company making negative comments or being condescending in regards to a competitor, they’re going to immediately see the bias that exists and discount the comments based on it. So even if the poorly chosen tone doesn’t have any negative consequences, it isn’t going to work either. Secondly, by taking a negative or condescending tone, a business risks turning off its existing social media following and it isn’t unheard of for otherwise loyal followers to voice their displeasure, creating a backlash.social media concept

The fact is that people just generally don’t like negativity. For the same reason that independent voters regularly indicate that they find political attack ads to be distasteful and off-putting, consumers don’t like it when businesses take the low road. It’s highly important for employees tasked with operating social media profiles to remember that when they post they speak for the company. Offhand negative comments that might seem harmless in a normal context can have unexpected consequences when delivered on behalf of a business. Diplomacy rules when it comes to speaking on behalf of a company in the social media environment.

So when posting for business purposes, it’s important to remember that a snarky remark about a competitor likely has no upside potential whatsoever, but could have significant negative consequences. There is nothing worse than having social media users turning on the company they follow, and putting out that fire is often embarrassing and difficult. So instead of attempting to pump up a business by putting down the competition, companies should focus on the quality of their own products or services and let that quality speak for itself. Not only will it result in a stronger, more loyal following, but it eliminates the dangers that negative social media tone can invite, and that kind of risk mitigation can be invaluable in a world where appearances are everything.

Why Online Marketing Is Like Serial Dating

You’ve heard of that poser who manages to get all the girls by lying, cheating, and hitting on everything with a skirt. You may even laugh at his antics, when you see them portrayed by the character named Barnie on “How I Met Your Mother.” Other times he makes you cringe at his calculating and impersonal techniques to improve his conquest numbers. Whether you love him or hate him, he has some valuable lessons to offer online marketers. Today’s social marketing world depends on authenticity and personal branding, but it also can make use of some techniques that players have used for centuries to reel in the goods.

It’s all about the Numbers

Players, like Barnie, know that rejection is inevitable in dating as well as in business. You may have to struggle a while to get your first “yes.” But, you definitely increase your chances if you market as many people as possible while trying to make each contact as personal as possible. It’s considered uncouth to solicit every woman in a bar to see who will bite, but the same approach in business is exactly what you need to get results. Persistence in your online marketing venture is bound to reap success even if it can get monotonous or repetitive. The wider you cast your net, the more likely you’ll bring in a big haul.

Create an Attractive Hook

Some days Barnie is a pilot and other days he is a doctor. He has no qualms about making up a story to gain the confidence or sympathy of his intended target. This type of antic can be successful in dating and in business, with the exception that creating enticing stories better be based on some modicum of truth in business or you could end up sued. The technique is still valid, however, in that you want to find the hook that appeals toWhy Online Marketing Is Like Serial Dating your target audience and then use that to get them to connect with you on a personal level. This can encompass something as simple as indicating that you love pets and donate money to shelters from every purchase made or that your business was founded to solve some personal problem in your life. The key is to have a story that you can go to when someone wants to know who you are and why they should buy from you.

Get Contact Information

Internet marketers spend a lot of time creating social profiles, tweeting, posting images, and writing blog articles. All of that is great for exposure, but if you don’t focus on the final goal like Barnie, you’ll just end up with a lot of goodnight kisses and little else to show for it. Like Barnie, you got to start with the phone number – in this case, the email address. Email marketing is the first step to close the deal and without it, you’re wasting your time. If you don’t have an email program set up to market all your contacts and you aren’t automating it to be able to service multiple clients at a time, you’re only sabotaging yourself.

Close the Deal

Decide how many contacts it takes to close the deal. A real player might hang around for three dates and if nothing happens, moves on. Likewise, if you’re not getting responses from your email list after a set number of contacts, you need to review your entire game plan. You should be reaping results. You want to build an audience, but the audience needs to be a paying audience otherwise your business will inevitably fold.

If you’re not getting people to buy your services then you need to look at where there might be a mismatch in who you’ve targeted and what you are selling. You might find you need to create a couple of different deals – one for low-income people and another for more high-end customers. It could be that no one is interested in your product or service and it needs to be tweaked. Maybe you are not asking for the sale outright and that is also a factor. If you have a full-blown email responder system in place, you can view which emails get the most attention and click-through rates and that can help you customize your message so that people buy more often. In the end, you will find that you can maintain your authenticity and sell a good product even as you use some of the techniques that have made players like Barnie successful with less noble intentions.

Three Things to Know About Google’s Hummingbird Update

Google’s Hummingbird update has been described as the largest change to Google’s inner workings in years. Driven by the meteoric rise in smartphone use, Hummingbird is designed to better serve people using voice search, and to better understand complex queries.

To do this, Hummingbird shifts the search engine’s focus from keywords and search strings to meaning and context. By taking a semantic approach to searches, Google hopes to match the intent–not just the individual words–of a user’s query with useful websites.

While only Google knows exactly how Hummingbird works, there are three things every site owner and SEO should know about it.

Hummingbird is the Biggest Update to Google Search Since 2010

Since it’s launch in 1997, Google has continuously improved the algorithm it uses to determine which results to display when a user searches for particular keywords. These changes are usually minor and happen almost daily, unnoticed by users or SEOs. With Hummingbird, though, Google replaced their core algorithm entirely.

The last time Google did this was in 2010 when they launched the Caffeine update. While Caffeine was designed to provide search results faster, and to better handle the constant stream of data coming from services like Twitter and Facebook, Hummingbird is designed to change how Google’s search engine understands the web and its users’ queries.

Hummingbird Uses Entities Instead of Keywords

Instead of looking at a search query and trying to match its keywords with those it finds on websites, Hummingbird breaks down queries and website content into “entities,” the meanings of which it then matches using the same technology behind its Knowledge Graph. By matching meanings, Google can more accurately pair a user’s intent with sites likely to satisfy it.

This meaning matching allows Google to know that “closest place” and “nearest location” represent the same thing. In fact, when a user enters the query “where is the closest place to get an oil change,” Hummingbird is able to match meanings so well that Google’s search engine will now return not just a list of sites with the same words, but an answer to the user’s question.

Hummingbird Further Emphasizes a Site’s Authority

For years, Google has been giving higher rankings on its results pages to sites which it considers trusted authorities, but Hummingbird takes this to a whole new level. Because Google is essentially adjusting its vocabulary with every site it analyzes, if the search engine doesn’t trust a site, it’s unlikely to be considered at all.

In order to determine how authoritative a site is for a given topic, Hummingbird relies on a number of different criteria including the age of the site’s domain name, how much information it hosts for the topic, and how many other authoritative sites link to it. Sites which pass Google’s trust tests are not only given preferential treatment, they’re now likely to be the only sites users will see.

Here’s an article from Wired on Hummingbird.

Why Has My Website Been Removed from Google?

It’s a website owner’s worst nightmare. Having a site removed from Google’s index means you no longer receive traffic from the search engine. With no search engine traffic, your sales plummet, and it can greatly affect your online business’ future. Being removed from Google’s index isn’t permanent as long as you fix the problem. The problem can be egregious violations of Google’s guidelines, or you could have made a simple server configuration error. Here are some quick ways to identify the issue and get your site back into Google’s good graces.

Google Webmaster Tools URL Removal

One of the most common reasons for a site to drop from the index is misusing the URL removal tool in Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools has a section where webmasters can remove URLs from the index quickly. It’s intended for pages that have sensitive information that you need removed, or it’s for times when you have several pages indexed that you no longer want in the index.

Many SEOs and webmasters misuse this tool to remove pages that return a 404 (temporarily not found) server message or for canonical issues. The tool should never be used for either one of these issues. The result is the SEO or webmaster accidentally removes the entire site.

In some cases, disgruntled employees or SEOs given access to your Webmaster Tools console will maliciously remove the domain from the index. For this reason, you always want to give SEOs and employees “read only” access to Webmaster Tools.

To remedy this issue, go into Webmaster Tools and click the “Remove URLs” link in the “Google Index” section. Click “All” in the drop-down to view all removal requests. Click “Cancel” if your domain is listed. It takes a few days for the URL to return to the index, but Google will return the site to its previously indexed status.

Spun Content or Extremely Poor Quality Content

Spun content makes horrible content, and you should never engage in machine-created content. Software called a “spinner” takes specific adjectives and adverbs and attempts to create unique content by replacing certain words with related words. The result is horrible content that’s never useful for readers.

If your site is caught spinning content, Google places a manual penalty on the site, and in severe cases, Google removes the site entirely from the index. The only way to recover from this issue is to remove all spun content from the site. In some cases, this is all the content on the site. However, you must remove all spun content to have the manual penalty removed. After you remove the content, file a reconsideration request in Webmaster Tools.

If your site has any type of manual penalty, Google recently started displaying manual penalties in Google Webmaster Tools. Click “Search Traffic” in the navigation panel and click “Manual Actions.” This page tells you if any penalties are applied to the site, so you know you need to take action to fix indexing issues.

Server Configuration Errors

Any type of server configuration error that blocks Google from accessing the site affects your site’s index status. If you have DNS errors, it means Google can’t access the domain. If your server times out, it means Google can’t crawl your site.

One big issue with websites and indexing is poorly configured firewalls. Some web hosts configure firewalls to block too many consecutive page requests. Several requests made consecutively can trigger denial of service (DOS) detection software.

While this is good when it’s a malicious hacker, bots crawl website pages very fast and the crawling can look like a DOS attempt. If your host is incorrectly detecting a bot as a DOS attempt, the firewall blocks Google and your site can drop in rank or be entirely removed. The only way to correct this issue is to ask your host to fix the firewall configurations or move host providers entirely.

If any server configuration errors exist, Google usually reports these errors in Webmaster Tools. Check Webmaster Tools for any errors that could affect your site’s index such as 500 errors or DNS errors. Server 500 errors are general errors, but they are typically coding issues. DNS errors mean Google can’t resolve your site’s IP with the domain name. Your website host can help you fix any DNS errors.

“Noindex” on Your Pages

The “noindex” meta tag tells Google not to index your pages. The meta tag can be manually coded into pages, or some content management software such as WordPress and Joomla have configurations to set the tag in the software’s control panel.

To find out if you have the meta tag set in your site’s code, open your website in any browser. Right-click the page and select “View Source Code.” The meta tag is within the “head” HTML tags. Find all meta tags in this HTML section and make sure none of them have “noindex” in the code.

To fix this issue, remove the meta tag and wait for Google to recrawl the pages. If you use a content management system such as WordPress or Joomla, check the software’s control panel for any settings that block search engines from indexing the pages.

The Site is Brand New and You Need Patience

Site owners think that Google indexes instantly, but Google needs to crawl the site before indexing any pages. Indexing using takes a few days unless you have a backlink to the site. If you submit a sitemap in Webmaster Tools, wait about two weeks before panicking. In most cases, your site is indexed within a week, but some sites take longer.

These are just a few ideas when checking for indexing issues in Google. Google rarely indexes all pages in a domain, but as long as your site focuses on users and you maintain quality, Google will index and rank your website in time. While indexing is easy, ranking is difficult, so always focus on users and quality and have patience when working with your site’s search engine optimization.

5 Social Media Tips to Help Promote Your New Business

As we blast into the age of digital marketing, new businesses have a lot to learn. While traditional marketing tactics still have their place, it’s not nearly enough to propel a new business into the limelight. There is much more that has to be done, and it starts with social media.

Why Social Media?

With the growing popularity of social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, businesses have picked up on the trend. Creating a profile and actively engaging in these sites provide a great way for new businesses to get in touch with their customers and build a digital following. It can also help build up your brand and establish instant feedback and a deeper customer connection, too.

You Have to Have a Plan

If you want to stand a chance in this world, you need to put together a solid digital marketing plan. What if you don’t have one? Don’t worry – it’s actually easy to get everything pieced together once you know how social media works.

To help you get started, take a look at the 5 social media tips below. Pay attention to each one, as they can make the difference between your business taking off or watching it fall flat on its face!

Tip #1 – Study Other Businesses and How They Use Social Media

Before you think about hopping on the social media train, it’s best to see how others are capitalizing on it. Take a look at any large, successful business and take notes. Make sure to look at things like:

  • How they setup their profiles on each platform
  • How they interact with their customers
  • What type of marketing tactics they use (and what garners the most response)

By looking closely at businesses that are successfully using social media to enhance their image and increase their brand awareness, you will be able to use it to your advantage. It’s a necessary process and one that will help you formulate your own plan for success!

Tip #2 – Only Use the Platforms You Plan to Update Frequently

One of the biggest mistakes a new business can make with social media is to spread themselves too thin. They often do this by creating profiles on a variety of platforms without capitalizing on each one (or understanding how they work). Eventually, they forget about certain profiles, which can lead to dormancy (i.e. accounts that are unused or have low-activity). When this happens, it can put a stain on your efforts.

How can you cure this problem? The solution is simple. Only stay active on the sites that you plan to use and keep updated on a regular basis. Anything less will make your brand appear less established and can give off bad vibes, which may send potential customers running for the hills.

Tip #3 – Reach Out and Connect With Your Audience5 social media tips to help promote your new business

The fastest way to success with social media is to interact with your audience. The more you can make a prospect feel closer to your business, the better your chances are of turning them into a long-term customer.

Connect with your audience and talk to them. Ask them plenty of questions that will make them respond. Make it about them, not you. The more interaction and influence you have, the easier it will be for you to get results and build a large following!

Tip #4 – Don’t Make it All About You

No one likes a business that stays in promotion mode 100% of the time. While you should always aim to keep it professional, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it! Post content that your target market can relate to. Get creative and find ways to incorporate your business into it in some way. As long as you don’t come off as overly promotional, people will appreciate you more for it.

Tip #5 – Let Your Followers Get Involved

People participate in social media because of the interaction. To increase your customer interaction and gain more followers, you need to find ways for your target market to get involved.

How can you do it? Here are a few quick and easy options:

  • Hold unique contests that both promote your business and encourage people to get involved.
  • Don’t hold back when asking customers to share your content. Create the kind of stuff that make people want to share it. It’s the best way to make something go viral, which can explode your following.
  • Tell your customers you want to hear from them, and make it easy for them to access you. People are much more likely to get involved when they know their efforts will be reciprocated.

These marketing tactics are easy to implement, yet they will go far in helping you build your business through social media.  Give them a shot and see what they can do for you!

Become a Social Media Maestro Today

Depending on what type of business you operate, choosing to skip out on social media may not hurt it, but it definitely won’t help anything. As long as you start small and slowly get the hang of it, you will quickly see how much of an impact it can have when everything comes together. The opportunity to reach more customers is there. All you have to do is capitalize on it. The rest, as they say, is history!

Just another observer