Online Reputation Management – Your Customer Said What About Your Business? Find Out How

If you own a business in today’s modern world, you know that it’s no longer a question of whether you have an online presence or not. It’s now a matter of what that online presence is. You need to know how people perceive your brand and whether that perception matches the one you want established. It’s not wise to just let things fall where they may when your online reputation is involved. Businesses can’t just let other people determine what their brand is, they should be the one on top of it controlling the narrative.

This is where online reputation management comes in.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is the practice of taking charge of a brand’s reputation on the web. It involves constant monitoring and making sure that the perception of a business stays on the favorable side by boosting positive content and decreasing the visibility of negative content.

Why is online reputation management important?

Everyone is online these days. Your customers have social media accounts, your competitors have a website, and your prospects are scouring forums for product reviews. There is no escaping the power of the internet and how it’s become the ultimate source of business for a lot of brands.

Studies have shown that 75% of potential customers check reviews first before they make a purchase and four out of five of them choose the competition after reading one bad review. That’s eighty percent of new customers lost due to a possibly mismanaged online reputation.

Take control of what your customers see online and don’t let others – your dissatisfied customers or competitors – do it for you. Or it’s eighty percent of your new customers out the door before they even reach it.

How do you go about managing your online reputation?

There are a lot of details involved in successfully plotting and executing a good online reputation management strategy. Depending on how big your organization is and how much of a presence you already have online, the amount of work and time needed will vary. But the three things that are consistent no matter what when dealing with managing your brand’s online reputation are: 1) establishing where you currently are reputation-wise and your goals, 2) fixing any damage and working on accomplishing your goals, and 3) making sure you keep the goals you’ve reached.

Determining Your Online Reputation

Before executing any steps in managing your brand’s reputation online, it’s important that you figure out what the baseline is so you know how much work still needs to be done. Here are some important questions that will help steer you towards a good start.

What is your audience saying about you?

The most common sources that determine the general opinion about your brand are blogs, forums, social media, and review sites.

Go to these places online and type in the name of your business and check out the results. Are they mostly complaints about your product or service? Do they show your brand in a positive light? Is your website on the first page of search engines or are other sources shown first? The results will give you an idea on what your potential customers see and what their first impression might be when researching about you.

It’s important to note specific quotes and complaints or praises so you have a more concrete idea on how you’re being perceived online. This will also give you a more rounded view of your online reputation goals.

What are your reputation goals?

The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best when he told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.”

The same truth applies to reputation management. You can’t just be general about your goals. “I want a better online reputation” will not do. You have to be specific in what you want to happen. Is your business being bashed in forums? Plot a game plan on how to combat that. Does the competition keep on posting untrue reviews about you? Find a way to make them stop. Does your brand need more positive reviews? Get strategizing to encourage happy customers to share their experience with you.

It also helps when you divide your goals into immediate ones versus the mid-term and the long-term. That way, you can prioritize better and can audit your accomplishments more clearly.

Is it necessary to conduct a reputation audit?

Yes. Again, you won’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t mark where you started. Write down all measurable info about your current reputation online, compare it to your goals, and set a game plan on bridging the two. Some of the most common things you can measure in your audit are:

Your brand’s average customer rating on review sites
The number of positive results on Google when searching for your business
The number of likes you have on Facebook
The number of complaints your help desk receives in a specific period of time
Your brand’s Klout Score

These are just examples of measurable data you can base your goals and strategy upon. It’s also essential to remember to set a timeline for these items so you know how often to conduct your audits and adjust any items needed.

Conducting Online Reputation Damage Control

Now that you’re clearer on what the problem is and what your goals are, it’s time to do some damage control. Consider the following questions when putting out some fires related to your online reputation.

Can you remove negative reviews?

It depends. If the reviews are posted on your space – your Facebook page, website, or YouTube channel – then you have the last say on what content gets to stay. You can remove anything negative about your brand and push the more positive comments on top of the pages. Some online personalities do this with the goal of fostering only positive thoughts on their spaces, especially in the comments thread in YouTube. You really can’t blame them. YouTube is infamous for having some of the most vicious commenters in the entire World Wide Web. If the threads are not moderated, it can get quite ugly.

However, you need to be careful when deleting negative comments and reviews. There’s a difference between removing a mean note from an online troll to removing a valid complaint from a customer. The former is understandable and usually necessary. The latter can send the wrong message to your audience – it might be construed as censorship and can have a negative effect in how your brand is perceived.

In cases like this, it’s better to let the reviews stay – as long as they’re not disrespectful – and just respond to them. This can be a great opportunity for you to give your audience a first-hand look into how your business handles criticisms and customer complaints.

How do you respond to bad reviews?

Very professionally. Here’s a helpful guideline when replying to negative reviews online.

Focus on the main issue and gear your response towards it. Some reviews can go on and on since one of the reasons why customers write them is to vent, so you need to be the one to hone in on the specific cause of the complaint. Once you’ve dissected it, construct your reply with that issue as the main focus. This will simplify the conversation, temper the emotions involved, and save everybody’s time.

Do some background research. Arm yourself with as much context as possible regarding the customer’s issue. If they’re complaining about a delay in their order, check the appropriate department and confirm the order info. If they’re unsatisfied with how your help desk handled their previous issue, go through the documentation and see what else could have been done. Don’t reply without getting all your facts first. It’s also important that you find out if the issue is an isolated or recurring one so you take the right steps in making sure it doesn’t happen again.

Be polite and earnest. Apologize for the issue and thank the customer for taking the time to let you know about it. Starting with something simple but sincere like this will go a long way to making your customer feel better.

Identify yourself. Make sure the customer knows who you are and how you’re connected with the company. This will let them know that the right people are paying attention and they’re being taken seriously.

Be prompt. Nothing gets upset customers more upset than when they think they’ve been ignored. Always make it a point to reply to complaints within 24 to 48 hours. You want to make sure your side of the story is heard way before other people control the narrative.

Maintaining Your Online Reputation

Performing damage control is not enough when you want to be consistent in managing your online reputation. Once you’ve put out the more critical fires, it’s essential that you have a plan in place that focuses on the upkeep. In online reputation management, being reactive is only good if you’re catching up. After that, the goal is to be proactive. That means monitoring, tracking, and constantly updating.

Can you prevent any more bad reviews?

Realistically, you can’t – unless you tirelessly censor every mention online that puts your business in a negative light. In which case, you should probably stop because it’s not a very productive use of your time.

There will always be someone who won’t be very impressed with you or your product or your service, and they might get very vocal about it. You can’t really stop them from doing so, but you can mitigate the damage those reviews can cause.

What are the ways of lessening the damage from bad reviews?

Regulate the narrative. Since you can’t control exactly what people say about you, then it’s better that they talk about you where you can see them. This means inviting the conversation to happen in your space – your Facebook page, your website, or your Twitter account. If you have no FB page, create one. If you don’t have a customer feedback form, publish one.

If there’s a way to directly address the business when there’s an issue about their product or service, most consumers will use it. Only when that’s unavailable will most of them resort to grumbling on their personal FB account or going on a Twitter rant. You don’t want them to do that. You want the conversation to happen in your space not only so you’re updated but also to make sure you have the capability to moderate it.

Boost the positive. Post regular updates on all your spaces that put your business in a positive light. This does not only mean good reviews, but basically anything that reinforces the quality of your brand. Share helpful articles related to your industry, upload funny images that also make your audience think, update your status with pertinent info on anything your audience will find useful. Do this regularly, so your prospects and current customers find this first in your spaces and not the bad reviews.

Monitor and track. Don’t let your reputation get away from you anymore. Set up tracking and monitoring for your brand, business, and keywords to make sure that you’re informed any time anyone says something about you online.

What’s the best way of monitoring and tracking your online reputation?

The goal now is to be on top of the conversation. You’re already aware of the general audience consensus and have done some considerable work into repairing any damage caused by any lack of online reputation management. At this point, you just want to be kept abreast and just using basic Google search is not going to cut it anymore.

You now need the big guns. That means a tool or software that’s designed for online reputation monitoring. How these usually work is you set up the tool with the keywords you want monitored – your business name, your competitor’s, the keyword for your industry, etc. – and the tool will send you an alert when these words are pinged, giving you an opportunity to deal with any issue as soon as it pops.

What features do you need in an online reputation monitoring tool?

Real-time updates. Look for a software that you can configure to send alerts as soon as you get an online mention. Many will only send you one email a day and others will require you to log in to the software to access your notifications. These are acceptable options for everyday routine monitoring, but if you’re dealing with a launch or something time-sensitive where you want to be notified as soon as someone mentions your brand or name, then it pays to already have real-time update capability in your tool.

Unlimited keywords monitoring. This means you’re looking for a tool that lets you set it up with as many keywords and names to track as you think necessary. The most common limit is five keywords per account, and that won’t do when you’re tracking not only one business and its competitors and keywords, but others as well.

Unlimited results. Some tools have a cap on how many results they can send per month depending on the package you’ve purchased. You want the software that will send you as many mentions as your keywords can generate.

Direct links to your mentions. For ease of access, you want a tool that takes you to where your keyword was pinged without you having to leave the tool itself.

Ability to track all over the internet. You want your tool to be able to scour Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, forums, news sites – you get the idea. There’s no point of paying for something that only tracks news sites and ignores the discussion happening on social media. You need to have access to all.

Do you also need to focus on good reviews?

Definitely. They say you need at least five good reviews to counteract one bad one. Find those good reviews as well. Be approachable to happy customers. You want them to post about their positive experience so your prospects don’t just get influenced by those that wrote bad reviews.

How do we get people to post positive reviews?

You can do it directly or through some other subtler ways.

The direct method would be to offer your products for free in exchange for a review. Of course, it doesn’t usually follow that the experience for the reviewer is going to be positive, but if you’re confident about what you’re offering, chances are they’ll be writing something good about you. You can also have contests or promos where the winner will then write something about the product. This will work not only to help you get more positive reviews for your brand, but as advertising as well.

A more indirect method of encouraging your happy customers to post about you is making social media sharing buttons prominent on your online spaces. Any time you write a new blog post or record a new YouTube video, close it with something like: “Have a story to share about our product? Email us, leave a comment, or post your story in our Facebook page!” Most of the time, your audience want others to know how much they like your product, they just need to be reminded.

The rising popularity of social media and the internet has made online reputation management a necessity for all kinds of businesses. It’s not just a witty phrase marketers throw around anymore. It’s become an essential part of how you take care of your brand. Be vigilant when it comes to protecting your online reputation. Know what people are saying about you and make sure you have the tools that will help you track your brand and manage the conversation. Remember, bad reviews will influence prospects and can cost new customers while proactive reputation management will engender loyal consumers and invite more. Give your brand’s reputation the focus and work it deserves.

Caelan Cheesman is an expert on business reputation and lead generation. You know how important reputation management is for your business. The next logical step would be to do something about it.

Reputation is the key when it comes to business, as you know and businesses are at risk with every single person out there who has a smart phone.

I’ve put together a presentation on some very smart software that can monitor your reputation for you and alert you the instant something is said online and needs action.

5 Steps To Survive (And Thrive) In Your Online Retail Business

I started in retail when I was 13 years old. My first job was in sales at Pal’s Music Company, my neighbor’s dad’s record store in downtown Hattiesburg, Ms. Sales were a simple thing then. A customer, generally, had heard a song on our local radio station, WXXX, and came in, usually the following Friday or Saturday, and wanted to hear a bit of it on the built in record player. If it was the right song it was usually a sale. Every Friday I got paid in my choice, records or cash or both. I usually chose both.

As years went by, and finally after college, I took jobs in various industries, but always seemed to migrate back to retail. Now I am a cartoonist. In September of 2006, I opened my first online retail store which sold (and continues to sell) tees, mugs and such bearing my offbeat cartoon images.

I had gone back to college from 2002-2006 to learn Internet technology and business, but even it did not prepare me for what was to come. How does one deal with customers in which, more often than not, there is no human contact?

Four years have now passed since I opened my first online shop, and I now have four more and over 200,000 licensed gifts and tees. Since I do not stock inventory, I use manufacturer/dropshippers who print and deliver my goods, so I have to choose carefully. With my core manufacturer, I made certain I have access to all my customers names and mailing addresses so that I can stay in touch for sales, promotions, etc. If you are able to do that, please do. But don’t expect that kind of respect from the major online POD’s (Print On Demand) firms such as Zazzle, Printfection, Threadless, Cafe Press and the other big dogs. Here are my five steps to online retail survival and even profit.

1. Become an “expert”. This does not mean “know it all” or “guru”. It simply means to catalogue useful information and purveying it to others through blogs and article marketing. Eventually existing customers and new ones come to rely on your for good info and Google your name. Writing blogs such as this often come from a combination of both reading and experience, but mostly experience.

2. Make good use of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Many try to dictate the “right” and “wrong” way to do this. In reality, what works for “Fred” will probably not work for “Barney”. Social media is truly not a one-size-fits-all world. Many well known brand businesses use the totally personal approach of having a person trying to juggle all the balls in the air engaging in one-on-one dialogue 24/7. Other companies have so much information, they use a real human person to “tweet” all the while having pre-schuduled “news tweets” going using such systems as Hootsuite or Twaitter. These are also ideal for smaller or mid-size firms that may be on a limited budget but want to have an online presence throughout the day and night. It is particularly effective for my firm since about 50% of our orders originate from Europe, and are processed when we are asleep.

3. Think globally, act locally. This is one that I procrastinated for a long time, and my wife found a way for me to want to give it a try by creating a very attractive “thank you” packet that we sometimes leave with someone in the service industry who has treated us well. The presentation she created is so unique, it has already proven effective even after only handing out a few of them. We have noticed large orders originating from our own hometown. I don’t spend as much time on this as I believe I should and plan to utilize it more often. I am used to working online but my goal is to balance that. I will report again in a few months to let you know how it is working.

4. Price within reason. This time the dot.com bubble appears not to be busting. More and more people are appreciating the convenience of shopping online. But just like in physical stores, people like a good price. One has to make a profit to stay open, but one has to price it within reason so that the market can afford it, or the market will go somewhere else.

5. Don’t jump the gun when opening. Make sure your shop has enough inventory. When I say inventory I don’t mean ten or twenty items. Whether you are using a POD manufacturer or making your products locally or dropshipping someone else’s or becoming an associate, fill your page with salable images. I did not start selling until I had a few hundred items in my shops, but it is different for everyone. Now that there are thousands, they are picked up by all the major shopping channels such as Google Shopping, The Find, Shop.com, etc. People rely on these sites for useful retail information and comparison. Most people do the opposite but fill your shop with merchandise, then open the doors.

Rick London is the founder of Google & MSN’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons [http://www.ricklondon.us] and gifts, Londons Times Cartoons.

Car Care Businesses and Add-in Service Concepts

Let’s say you have an auto business up and running and you are looking to make more money, but adding on new services. You are not sure what you want to do, but you have a pretty good customer base and you want to provide a service that people want and that they are willing to spend top dollar for. Well, let me suggest auto detailing type concepts.

Once you are up and running with a co-brand, business opportunity, independent business or franchise fixed site or mobile unit then what; what can you add to your set of services which will be an easy sell to your current customer base? Where do you go from there? Luckily in the detailing business your possibilities are truly unlimited. If you own automotive repair shop you can go mobile without taking up another bay in your shop. If you are mobile or have mobile service available you could branch out and detail aircraft. National Detail Systems has a comprehensive manual for this market niche as a business opportunity. Greg Dumond of National Detail Systems; http://www.nationaldetail.com , formerly Polish Masters has plenty of experience to back up his system. Another system Aircraft Wash Guys is an aircraft washing and detailing franchise, website http://www.aircraftwashguys.com although they have decided not to franchise anymore and keep the money from services to themselves. (FYI; I own this company).

Perhaps you are a fisherman or a nautical type. How about Boat Detailing and services? Well there is Q-Lube Marine out of Salt Lake, UT; Nauticare out of Newport Beach and The Boat Wash Guys at;

http://www.carwashguys.com/boatlaunch.shtml

(FYI; I own this company and due to Marine Liability Insurance Rates we are no longer franchising it), a unique system mounted on a pontoon boat and can work right in the water. WOW-Wash on Wheels at [http://www.washonwheels.com] ; also has a marine system available on a trailer. National Detail System also recognizes the value in Marine Detailing Services and it has become a significant part of their overall marketing plan.

If you are looking for a complimentary business for your automotive business perhaps you might wish to think outside the box a little. Branch out and go for the higher dollar ticket crowd, anyway, definitely something to think on.

Small Business Finance – How to Prioritize Your Profits

When you business finally starts producing income (and the initial joy wears off), business owners now have a new financial issue — how should this money be spent? Should you invest profits back into the business, spend the money own your own personal expenses? Or if your business is producing profits, is that the time to pay yourself a salary or save for retirement, or should you wait? Allocating that next dollar of income is challenging, because you and your business have conflicting priorities. On one hand, you want to grow your business as fast as possible. But you also want to enjoy your profits (finally!) and start to up-level your lifestyle.

You also know you “should” be saving for retirement — and you don’t want to miss out on years of saving (especially when you would be building your 401(k) if you still had your corporate job).

I recommend you triage the allocation of your income. As you are able to pay for the first category discussed below, you can move on to considering expenditures in the next category. For example, once you have your minimum expenses covered, you can start investing in business growth and saving for retirement.

“Must” have expenses

Minimum Personal Expenses: shelter, utilities, food, gas, loan payments, insurance.
Minimum Business Overhead: rent, payroll, licensing, operational costs, insurance, taxes, inventory.

Maintenance & early growth

Personal Expenses: clothing, household goods, toys, personal care, discount travel, insurance, gifts, charitable donations.
Business Growth: promotion & advertising, networking, staff, outsourcing, new products and services.
Retirement Savings.

Lifestyle & Growth

Lifestyle Expenses: luxury vacations, 2nd home, luxury automobile, designer clothes, country club membership, extensive charitable causes.
Rapid Business Growth: research and development, new technologies, staff, branding, business real estate, additional business ventures.
Wealth Building: real estate, equities, alternative investments, college savings funds, additional retirement savings.

But be aware — these choices depend upon you personal priorities and goals. You may not be willing to “give up your coffee” today for a million dollars in 40 years. That’s not right or wrong. It’s a matter of personal values. The important decision is to always be making a conscious choice of what you are taking and what you are giving up in response. The Wealth Spa(TM) Minute Do you know the average monthly overhead of your business? Is that figure a real number or just a guess? Use your bookkeeping software to find your average monthly expenses — to determine how much it costs each month just for your business to stay afloat.

Embroidered Business Shirt – Creating a Professional Working Environment

A business shirt is a fine way of dressing as it suggests a fine taste and a degree of sophistication. Commonly worn during formal events, a business shirt can be paired with any other attire such as a suit or a jacket. Moreover, because they are closely associated with the rich, the famous, and the successful, they are very likely to command the attention of people who see them. For those who wear them, it is just one way to gain the respect of those whom they may transact with. But what about enhancing the appearance of business shirts? To do this, you would need to wear an embroidered business shirt.

Enhance Your Appeal

When one is involved in the business of dealing with people from practically all walks of life, wearing an embroidered business shirt is one way to enhance their appeal. Adding intricate and attractive embroideries on it can enhance its beauty. Patterns are commonly used such as flowers, wings, and several other figures, the patterns being suggestive of the kind of personality of the person wearing them.

Embroidered Business Shirt in Promotion

In terms of promoting a company, wearing embroidered business shirt is compulsory in some companies. This way, employees share a uniform attire, which makes a neat sight for the eyes as well as suggesting a high degree of professionalism in the workplace. Moreover, company or product recognition is increased. This is made possible due to the fact that after office hours, some employees may drop by at the store to buy some groceries or drop the kids first at school in the morning, or take their lunch at the corner restaurant. In all these cases, the company name is spread further as the company’s logo or name goes to several places. And for the business, that could mean a lot.

Proudly Declaring Your Presence

An embroidered business shirt with the company’s logo or name prominently displayed implies that the company is not ashamed to shout its presence to the world. This suggests a strong determination to stay in the business and remain atop the competition. It is an unmistakable sign that the people in the company are fully supportive of the company in all its activities and that the personnel are proud to be part of it.

Promotional Products is all about making sure you are aware of the widest range of products that are going on the Web. There are so many categories for different products now, and you should be aware of all of them if you want to make the most informed decision. Promotional items are not just about pens and pencils anymore. The range of merchandise you can get your business name and logo on is just staggering. So check us out some time. We’ll put you in the right direction.

Corporate Business Gifts Help in Customer Retention

With an aim to give new heights to the business and make their name a global brand, business entrepreneurs uses different marketing activities right from advertising through media to distributing corporate business gifts. It is a fact that every businessman wants to keep smooth relations with business partners, customers, potential clients, suppliers and employees. To make smooth relations, now, most of the businessmen prefer to distribute corporate business gifts. However, the concept of these gifts has also changed completely. Previously, flower bucket and various other normal items were gifted. On the other hand, now customized pens, briefcases, laptop/ travel bags, mouse pads, t-shirts, polo shirts, trousers and various other items are gifted.

It doesn’t matter, what is the occasion, you can gift these items anytime for any reason. Today, in the corporate sector, it is a trend to offer these gifts. Apart from the aforesaid items, most of the corporate houses now prefer to gift more expensive items to appreciate their employees or give honor to their customers. For all sorts of businesses and organizations, they are the right marketing tool to reach the businesses to new heights. According to marketing experts, offering promotional items and gifts is one of the unique ways of adding more money in the revenue. It is a great way of propagating the marketing campaign in a unique way with positive results. Depending on your requirement and budget, these items can easily be imprinted with your company name, logo, message and website address.

For all occasions like exhibitions, seminars, board of directors’ meetings, conferences, road shows and tradeshows or any kind of event, these gifts are the right way of moving the business in the direction of success. These are the gifts that provide numerous opportunities to set a perfect customer base. No doubt, corporate business gifts have changed the concept of advertising and marketing completely. Because of the growing demand of these products, numerous promotional gifts stores are offering a variety of items at easy-on-the-pocket prices with detailed information. Apart from this, these stores also offer an option of getting them imprinted with your company name or logo according to your requirements.

An Internet Marketing Blog Can Help Expand Your Business

Starting an Internet marketing blog is quite a unique experience and can teach you a lot about how an online business actually works. Usually, an internet blog is a compilation of information geared towards a specific topic, such as child care or cellular phones, for example. The most important building block of a great Marketing blog is dedication and the great thing about blogs is that the content you use on them, called posts, can be relatively short pieces of prose. The ability to find out what people want with your blog is the key to increasing your site’s popularity and to maintaining a strong online reputation.

Marketing and technology has changed a lot in the past twenty years. Marketing on the internet using a blog platform offers you many options as to how you are going to generate traffic. These blogs are ones that are kept strictly for marketing a person or a business.

Internet marketing through blogging is fast becoming a valid means to earn passive income without spending a fortune. It is the concept of business marketing, both to customers and to other businesses by use of the internet. Internet Bloggers can make a stable passive income using advertising on their blogs. Internet marketing can help to increase your rankings, site views and also helps in increasing your business. The internet has come a long way in the world of business marketing and with great success.

Blogs are a great way to sell something and promote yourself as a professional. Blogs can be helpful, you just need to understand how to use them. They are also a type of social interaction, with comments being left and a group of readers springing up around them. Blog creation does not require any capital or funds, and this is the main point that makes an internet marketing blog a suitable option for those who wish to develop their business on a tight budget. Blogs and blogging have become indispensable tools in marketing one’s products, services, and brand.

Businesses are recognizing the value of relevant, compelling content to attract and retain customers and prospects. A business blog is an incredible online marketing tool that saves you thousands of dollars but provides great business opportunities in just one click. Now that Google is allowing searchers to specify the location of search results, it is more important than ever to ensure search engines know where your click-and-mortar business is located.

What is different about your business that makes you stand out from competitors? Every business owner knows that customer feedback is important to the organization. Social media is one the greatest internet marketing tools available to any e-business owner. As more and more businesses begin using Twitter for internet marketing purposes, there is a direct correlation in the number of automatic communication tools that allow the tweeter to contact everyone who starts following them. There are many other great tools as well, and you just need to search for them.

The first and also the most vital part about running a profitable Internet marketing blog is that one is going to need to truly figure out about what subject he/she is going after. The great thing when considering a Marketing Blog is that it is very easy to start one up,but the best part is that it can be free and won’t cost your business a penny to use. The internet marketing blog is a great way to boost the visibility of your products and services while greatly increasing traffic to your website.

FaceBook Marketing Simplified – 4 Social Media Marketing Tips For Your Local Business

FaceBook marketing is currently the rage because FaceBook.com has developed into the largest social networking platform on the internet. So large, in fact, that it threatens to seriously disrupt Google’s advertising model which is based primarily on the popularity of search.

What happens when so many people spend so much time on Facebook that they can conveniently ask their “friends” for recommendations rather than searching themselves? What happens when the crowd becomes the searching mechanism rather than a search engine?

Fortunately for you the answer to that question is Google’s problem and not yours.

For your small business, you can win both ways by social media optimization that leverages both Facebook and Google.

Social media optimization is simply the process of making your content easy to share and syndicate across multiple social media platforms. It has become more important as the social media marketplace becomes more and more fragmented. There are literally thousands of social media websites and tools scattered across the world wide web. And that’s why it has become all the more important to have strong presence on FaceBook.

Facebook has emerged as the leader in the social networking world. As of the original publishing of this article, the website has over 400 million users, and an amazingly high 50% of their users log in on any given day.

Here are 4 tips to help you leverage this powerful platform to build clients, revenues and profits for your local business.

1. Study how people use it.

Before you jump in to start marketing your business, I recommend you study the way people like to interact with each other on the website. In general, people use Facebook to stay in touch, share personal pictures, and share fun, interesting stuff. You marketing should have the same tone.

2. Don’t be a stranger.

Start by creating a personal profile. Make sure that in your personal profile, you come across as interesting, fun and engaging. Optimize your profile to include your unique selling proposition, a compelling direct response offer, links to your website and other custom content (your YouTube Channel for instance) and personal information like your favorite foods, books, movies and Facebook pages.

3. Don’t be boring.

This may be the cardinal sin of engagement on any social media platform. Invest in pictures, graphics, videos and content that is fun, interesting and ultimately connected to the business you’re in. Be prolific when it comes to spotting interesting, exciting, bizarre or quirky things. You also have to be prolific at sharing those things.

4. Create a Facebook Page.

A page on Facebook is different from a profile. For one thing, profiles limit you to a maximum of 5,000 “friends” or connections, while there are no limits on how many people can “Like” (subscribe to) your page.

In addition, a page can be administered by multiple administrators. And since they are designed for use by brands, businesses and organizations, they can also be created and used by anonymous admins. Check the Terms of Service on how to use those without running afoul of their policies.

Another powerful benefit of a page is that all the sections that make up a Facebook page are accessible to the search engines and to web visitors who are not members of FaceBook. This is huge. It means that you can have the benefits of social media optimization (traffic from your Facebook friends) and the benefits of search engine optimization (Web traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing).

So you can use your page content to drive traffic to your own websites or to your email subscription pages.

Finally, Facebook pages can be customized by installing an application known as “Static FBML” (FaceBook Markup Language). FBML allows you to include HTML on your Facebook page so that you can do nifty things like customizing a welcome page that includes a YouTube Video and an email sign-up box.