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In: Social Media

Online marketing for small business has traditionally centered around driving traffic to your web sites where the visitor will converted into a sale by well-written sales pages.

That still applies today, but in addition to all this, most businesses are beginning to recognise the need to take into account the impact of social media.

It’s not time to abandon all the search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques that brought you the traffic in the first place, as traffic is still king, but you need to know what your customers are doing and where they are hanging out; the likelihood is that social media is playing an increasingly big part in their lives so social media marketing needs to be playing an increasingly big role in your online marketing methods.

Small, local businesses need to be engaging with their customers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as that’s where people are now spending their time. There are over 10 million unique visitors to Facebook every month in Australia and the release of Google+ means that the world of social media is going to be open to even more people who have so far shunned using Facebook. It is also becoming more related to search.

As an indication of the rise of social media, Google+ took just over 2 weeks to reach 10 million accounts – Facebook took over two years to get to this number.

Hand in hand with social media marketing comes online reputation monitoring and management. Nowadays everyone is a publisher of content – every time we enter a comment in our “status” on Facebook we are publishing content. That means that it is visible to many people and can have influence. Part of our online marketing strategy needs to be creating a good influence towards our business’s products and services.

If customers are spending time on social networking sites it stands to reason that they will be commenting on things they like and don’t like, right?

That means that your products and services may be under scrutiny and, unless we monitor this and manage the process then our reputation can easily be damaged by bad customer experiences, misunderstandings or instances when we failed to act according to the customer’s expectations.

The old adage of “the customer’s always right” applies online too and it’s their perception of your business that counts, not yours!

That’s why you should be getting to know the online reputation monitoring tools that allow you to check comments about your business or brand. These include Google Alerts, Social Mention, Viral Heat, Google Reader, Yahoo Alert, Twitter Search, Technorati, BackType and BoardReader.

Expect more names to be cropping up in the field – a sure sign of its relevance and importance to your business.

As you can see, the old rules still apply with small business online marketing, but considering the impact of social media is vital to the ongoing health of your business.