Earlier this year Google rolled out a new feature St. Augustine small businesses can use to promote timely news: Google Posts.
Google Posts isn’t exactly a new tool. It’s an evolution to a tool Google provided political candidates to post up-to-date information. The search engine thought so much about the benefits of the tool they polished it up and handed it over to businesses.
Google Posts allows you to publish content through your Google My Business account on topics such as events, products and services.
The content will appear in Google search and your Google Maps results. You can add images, text (up to 300 words) and event titles with start and end dates. Additionally, you can add call-to-action buttons.
Content goes live almost immediately. However, in an effort to promote the timeliness of the feature, Google will remove it from default view after seven days.
This could be a wonderful tool to use to make announcements about your small business.
This new feature also got us to thinking about other Google tools small businesses could use for their company.
Online Presence Tools
As a search engine, Google offers a number of tools you can use to enhance your website and online presence.
Google My Business: We mentioned Google My Business above and it should be the first Google feature for every small business.
Consider GMB the hub of your Google online search presence. It’s a business listing that provides searchers with your:
- Business Address
- Contact Phone Number
- Website Link
- Business Hours
- Business Photos
- Client Reviews
You can leverage your GMB content to make a simple Google Website plus enhance your Google Maps presence.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test: With a mobile online presence being a vital component for Google searches, they’ve provided a valuable tool that measures your website’s mobile friendliness. It’s easy to use and will give you a checklist of issues you might need to address.
Google Search Console: This tool allows you to monitor and maintain your website’s presence in Google’s search results. It provides a report about search queries, and what information from your site is easily available to searchers.
Google PageSpeed Insights: Not only is mobile friendliness important to Google, but so is the speed your website loads for its users. PageSpead Insights will score your website for both mobile and desktop uses plus offer a list of items you can use to make your site faster.
Google Trends: If you’ve ever wanted to gain insights into the search trends of your potential customers, check out Google Trends. This tool allows you to see trending topics in your industry, where searchers come from and a number other fascinating insights. Check out this trend result for “St. Augustine.”
Google Shopping Insights: Similar to Google Trends, Shopping Insights will give you a snapshot of current product popularity and trends. This could be an invaluable tool you can use to make product purchase decisions.
Google Forms: This tool allows you to create surveys to get feedback from your clients. You can also use the tool to send out invites to events.
Google Alerts: Get email notifications on any topic you’re interested in keeping up-to-date with. Set up an alert for your business name to see who is talking about you. Keep tabs on your competitors. Follow news about your industry.
Google is an everyday presence for pretty much everyone in the world. The suite of tools they provide business is robust and useful. Take a few moments this week to explore what they have to offer. Best of all, most of what they offer is free to use.
We’re always available to help your business leverage its online presence. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.
Like many others in St. Augustine, I was wide awake at 2 AM on Monday, September 11, listening to the howling winds and torrential rain as Hurricane Irma made its way through our beautiful historic town. Anxiously, I watched as flood water from the nearby marsh crept my way.
Fortunately, the San Sebastian floodwater never reached the doorstep. The next morning, while I surveyed downed trees and power lines, I expressed thanks for the safety of my family. And I offered prayers to those who would struggle due to damaged homes and impacted lives from this catastrophic storm.
Since helping businesses market their products and services is my livelihood, I always have a keen interest in messages that reach my ear. Through the din of 24-hour weather news with images and stories of tragedy and destruction, some messages from businesses stood out.
- A food truck offered free bags of ice and food to those who lost power
- Veterinarians provided tips on helping pets through the storm and kept people updated on their office schedules
- Handymen and cleaning services were quick to offer help to those in needs (many times for free)
- Fusco Law Group provided updates on courthouse closings and schedules
- Augustine Independent Restaurant Association (SAiRA) provided updates on local restaurants opening after the storm—much-needed information for families seeking a breather from their home situation
The majority of this communication came from social media, specifically Facebook.
Businesses that seemed to project empathy along with wholehearted efforts to help the community rode a wave of social media sharing. People were hungry for businesses seeking to make a positive difference in the face of a catastrophic event and rewarded them with their patronage.
How to Market When Faced with a Natural Disaster
As a small business, marketing is essential for your livelihood even after a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma.
However, there are certain boundaries you should be aware of, that when crossed could have a detrimental effect on your business. Tensions and emotions run high during this period and if it appears you’re taking advantage of their situation for money, word will get out—fast in this social media environment (Rants and Rave posts are popular these days).
When promoting your products and services keep the following in mind:
Be Human & Empathic: Authenticity wins every time. People respond positively to someone who understands their situation. If you’re a St. Augustine local who owns a business here, then you personally understand their situation. Use your own feelings and emotions as a guide to how you’d like to be communicated with.
Understand Evolving Emotional States: Stress changes through the course of a natural disaster. From the initial storm to recovery, people can experience emotional states of fear, anxiety, overwhelm and anger. Make sure your tone, voice and message don’t add to those emotional states—instead, try to communicate assistance, relief and comfort.
Understand Needs: Decision making shifts abruptly after a storm like Irma. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a good guide to what your customers might be dealing with.
- Basic needs will always be paramount to their interests: Food, water, warmth, rest, security and shelter
- Followed by Psychological Needs: Relationships, accomplishments
- Then Self-Fulfillment Needs: Freedom to express and be creative—have fun
Stay in contact with your customer to understand where they are in the hierarchy. This is your guide to the buyer’s journey. Help fulfill what they need at the time they need it. Be their solution.
In the end, people just want their lives to get back to normal as quickly and painlessly as possible. See how your business can help people achieve that objective then put the word out and be responsive.
When Hurricane Mathew struck St. Augustine, we watched our business community rise above the catastrophe and spring back quickly. Much of that is due to the fact that St. Augustine is full of local businesses– a major advantage to the community. Every one of these local business owners and staff understood what each other was going through and we all pulled together.
We expect the same in the aftermath of Irma.
We’re always available to help your business communicate your message. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.
Ahhh, the nights are getting longer, school buses are on the road again, and you can feel hints of the coolness of Autumn….
…oh, we’re in St. Augustine, Florida. Forget about the coolness of the changing season. We’re still a bit sweltering in these parts.
However, a trip to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, even Target shows all the promotional signs that Summer is ending and Fall is just around the corner…love watching the changing colors of the plastic leaves at the hobby stores.
For St. Augustine small businesses, now is the time to think about Fall promotions as well.
Let’s brainstorm some marketing ideas you can use to capitalize on the approaching season.
Prepare for the Holidays Big and Small
Fall is chock-full of holidays all leading up to the big shopping days after Thanksgiving (Black Friday or Small Business Day, hint hint). You can piggyback on public interest on these holidays in your:
- Social Media: Look to boost promotions to target markets receptive to making purchases during these holidays. Yes, Facebook has all the details you can leverage for this.
- Print Ads: Add some seasonal colors, language and offers to your ads
- And in-store promotions: Add card and poster reminders of upcoming holidays. Plus motivate your staff to put in the word about these holidays with your customers.
Grandparents Day: September 10
I know, not quite Fall—but still a good day to keep in mind.
Plus my wife and I just became first-time grandparents to a beautiful little girl (named Autumn—how appropriate). So this small but endearing holiday has hit my radar in a personal way.
This is a great day for grandchildren to give a gift to their grandparents. Or, take grandparents out to dinner.
First Day of Fall: September 22
Or, as we like to call it in our household, first day of pumpkin season.
Pumpkin spice appears magically every year to spruce up our drinks, food and potpourri. Play along with adding pumpkin themes to your promotion.
Invite customers over for a pumpkin & Fall celebration with flavored beverages and cookies. Promote the First Day of Fall sales and offers.
Give out Fall Season coupons (good through Black Friday or Small Business Day, hint hint).
Bosses Day: October 16
Wonderful opportunity to motivate people to take their boss out for lunch. Or, give a gift certificate to a restaurant, spa or favorite shop.
Halloween: October 31
Halloween is a time to let loose, get playful and scare up some creative promotions. Run a “Frightfully Great” or “Monstrously Fun” sale. Invite families over for Trick or Treat. Hand out small bags of candy with coupons inside (good through Black Friday or Small Business Day, hint hint).
Daylight Savings Time: November 5
We all gain an hour (or get it back depending on your opinion) on this day. Celebrate that extra hour with an hour-only sale or give-away.
Veteran’s Day: November 11
Be sure to thank veterans first and foremost. Also, be tactful, authentic and appreciative in your promotions. Give freebies and discounts to veterans and their families.
Thanksgiving Day: November 23
As a time for reflection and gratefulness, this is an opportunity to send out thank you cards and emails to your customers. You’ll also be ahead of schedule as most businesses do this in December. Also, it’s a good opportunity to provide an appreciation discount or coupon (good through Black Friday or Small Business Day, hint hint).
Black Friday: November 24
Small Business Day: November 25
Between Thanksgiving and the following Sunday, we Americans will spend an average $407. Most of the big corporate businesses are locked and loaded to grab a huge share (or all of it) of that cash.
By the way, did you get my hints up above? Start promoting your Black Friday and Small Business Day offers as often as you can leading up to that big day. Remind your customers to come back those days and bring friends to help support local businesses.
Here are some fun and simple offer ideas you can use during this time:
- Mystery Gifts: For $25 purchase, customer’s get a mystery gift (maybe a small item or a $5 gift card to your store or restaurant).
- Scavenger Hunt: Place a stuffed animal, pirate or another item somewhere in your store or restaurant. Have customers take a photo, share it on Facebook, show the cashier or waitress and get a discount or free appetizer. Maybe, place a hidden bowl of coupons somewhere in the store.
- Reward Loyalty: Open early for past customers only and offer amazing deals. Have an appetizer or menu item only loyal customers (those who are on your email list or received a coupon from earlier) know about.
Take advantage of the Fall season. It’s a time your customers are starting to spend money and you don’t want to miss out.
Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 if you’d like help brainstorming creative marketing ideas for the Fall.
In July, LinkedIn rolled out the ability to record and upload 10 minutes of video to a small number of members. Very soon, this feature will be available to all members of the social media network.
Given LinkedIn’s professional audience, this will be a great tool to share with other businesses and professionals your expertise and solutions you might have for their challenges.
One exciting aspect of this new feature will be the details of your viewers LinkedIn can provide:
- Where they work
- Their job title
- Top markets video was viewed
LinkedIn joins other social media networks in allowing video uploads. In fact, they’re one of the last to add this feature.
Since video’s been available on many other social media platforms:
Let’s Explore Video Best Practices for Each
We’ll ignore Youtube for now as the audience is pretty broad and…well…your video strategy would be dictated by your target market.
Facebook loves videos these days. And they prefer uploaded videos over links to videos (say from Youtube).
Facebook users like to share emotionally engaging content. Basically, did the video make them laugh, cry or inspired. Facebook has a highly diverse and documented audience. Using their demographic tools, you can effectively create a video ad tailored to specific target markets.
Facebook allows videos up to 45 minutes long. However, you might want to keep lengths to no more than four minutes—with the important part of your message on the front portion.
Talking head formats seem to work pretty well on this platform, and apparently when you wear a Chewbacca mask as well.
Topics are anything you can build viewership with. You can showcase new products and services. Maybe announce a new staff member. If you’re a chef, do a live video of today’s specials.
As with the 140 character limit, Twitter wants conciseness in videos—two minutes twenty seconds to be specific.
Informative and event videos seem to appeal to this audience. This would be a good platform to announce a new product or services. Or, news that would impact your target market.
Talk about brevity, Instagram videos must be at least three seconds and no more than 60. Experts say less than 10 seconds is most effective.
Audiences on Instagram respond well to a variety of video topics: tutorials, emotional, breaking news, snippets of live events etc.
As with most of Instagram, image is important. Instead of being a talking head, show what you’re talking about. Show quick uses of a product, or an excited plating of your latest restaurant creation.
Pinterest provides the ability to upload videos and not too many businesses are doing so. Pinterest audiences like story and how to videos. Brightly colored and staged videos work well.
This could be a great platform to show how to use your product or how your product was used by a customer.
As with any best practices, your mileage may vary.
Also, as with any marketing strategy, it’s best to test, analyze and test again. Upload videos on each of the social media platforms and find out how people respond to your message.
Give us a call at (904) 429-4588 if you’d like help exploring video ideas and how to leverage social media networks for your business.
Many small businesses create Facebook Pages with hopes of attracting customers. Unfortunately, Facebook pages are pretty much a pay to play platform.
Unless you pay to boost and promote your Facebook Page posts they won’t have the organic reach they did a few years ago. It’s can be disheartening to post some engaging content or helpful advice on your page only to see a sprinkling of likes or views—and one of them is your mom.
So, where are 1.9 billion monthly Facebook users hanging out?
Well, over a billion are actively participating in Facebook Groups. And Facebook is encouraging you to participate as well. The social media giant recently started to test a way for business pages to create groups and interact with group members. What a great way to build a community.
However, there’s no need to wait for the roll out of this function. You can create groups, join existing ones and interact with members from your personal Facebook account. And this is a great way to promote your expertise.
The Biggest Positives with Facebook Groups
- You’ll be interacting with people with specific interests that should align with your expertise
- Facebook users are sent notifications whenever someone posts to the Group
Join Existing Groups on Topics Aligned with Your Expertise—and Start Sharing It
Finding groups is easy. Facebook provides an “Explore Groups” link that you can use to discover Groups on a variety of topics and interest. Simply search for existing groups that you can provide some value to its members.
Once you find a group (or several), you’ll need to join it. If it’s a closed Group, you’ll have to request membership. Public groups are open to all.
Once you’ve joined a Group, spend some time to explore the topics of discussion. If you can lend some value, add it. It’s important not to jump right off the bat and promote your business—just advise for now. Let the members know you’re an expert and willing to share what you know.
Basically, you’re setting up a “top-of-mind” awareness about what you do. When people need your services, you’ll be there to help.
Create Your Own Community with Facebook Groups
Consider building a Group around your business. If you’ve got Facebook Page followers, invite them to join your group (including your mom). And invite your followers to invite their friends.
Again, don’t think of overtly promoting your business. This is an opportunity to engage a community on an interest.
For example, if you’re landscaper, create a Group for people who love to work in the yard. You can provide expertise on what plants work well in the local area and answer questions about issues people have with their yards.
Use your Group to drive discussions related to your expertise. Allow members to create content relevant to the topic as well—that way you’re not doing all the work to maintain your Group.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun & Engage
Facebook Groups are about engagement. Have fun. Ask questions. Use the Group members to float product and service ideas. Build a community online, then invite members for a meet and greet offline—maybe at your place business.
If you’re considering improving your online presences to get more customers, we’d love to help. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.