Small Business – Search and Social Expertise

The web is almost a level playing field for competitors. Money of course helps in many avenues, but expertise, time, and diligence can all contribute much, much more to your growth as a business, and a brand, online.

The only real issue for small business owners is they’ve already devoted so much of their time to growing their physical business, and local brand, often their online presence gets set to the wayside; with often far reaching consequences.

With how fast the Net evolves, how often Google tweaks their search algorithms and how social trends fluctuate, how does a small business owner keep up? Here are just a few tips to follow.

Becoming vertical What’s changing in social media is similar to what happened in search: A “verticalization” of social sites is beginning to happen—not as an exclusive participation in one social site, but in several sites, since the demographics of each will dictate what your objective is in participating.

The benefit of participating in several sites is that you can typically cater to focused targeting, allowing your company to promote your business to the right audience. In addition, participation in these sites can eliminate cost over time.

First observe your competitors, customers and industry peers in their preferred online environments. Then, determine what you want to do with the various social solutions—for example, grow the visibility of your organization and thereby increase awareness; gain revenue share; demonstrate thought leadership, etc. Lastly, decide on the voice of the company.

Integrating local A small-business owner can update a listing that exists on a business-list site, or develop his own for his company on a site like LinkedIn, and make it accurate and up-to-date. He can enhance the data and have a much better chance of his company profile showing up for certain relevant keywords at the top of a search result lists.

Choose wisely Savvy small-business owners realize that there are various types of social media they need to participate in, since each one may cater to different users. While your customers might use general networks like Facebook, you may wish to connect with your industry peers on business listings sites or ones that cater to a specific industry.

Getting one-on-one Many very small businesses have disrupted large companies with their innovative business models or product offerings that are now available on the Internet in a “democratized fashion.” Small-business owners need to understand that today, the user knows best and is public about it. Users vote on which products they prefer. This is where a one-on-one relationship with a company levels the playing field.

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