How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights

Audience data 240x180You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on industry research or surveying your audience — most small businesses already have plenty of data collection tools right at their fingertips! The savviest businesses utilize their content to gain invaluable insights into their customer and potential customer base to understand what they want most- here’s how you can too!

Google Analytics

To get a good baseline for who your audience is, use your website’s Google Analytics data. On the left sidebar, click audience, then explore the demographics, interests, and geo sections. The location, age, gender, industry and topical interests of your website traffic is all displayed in these section. The interests section of your audience report contains particularly insightful gems. Affinity Categories relates to the other lifestyle interests they have, while In-Market Segments shows you their product and purchase based interests. Other Categories hones in on the most specific topics of interest or activities.

Blog Topics

Which blog posts get the most shares, views, or impressions on your blog and across your social networks? It’s important to distribute your blogs across a wide variety of platforms to get a feel for as many different segments of your audience as possible, as well as to get a better sense of the piece’s success. Sharing your blogs widely across the web also brings more traffic back to you site, and continues to feed into what your insights.

Downloaded Resources

You should make a few helpful pdf downloads available on your website. Not only is this a great way to capture emails, but it’s also a useful tool to see where your audience’s interests lie, or what problems are currently affecting them. Make sure all your resources relate to your business in some way- it wouldn’t be particularly helpful to learn what someone’s favorite color is or where they would most like to vacation.

Emailed Content

Whether you use a full on CRM like Salesforce or a simpler service like MailChimp- take note of what content your readers are clicking on. When sending them blog updates, industry news, or new services offered- note where their interests lie. Deliver more, similar content to see if you can hone in on the specific topics they care most about. Optimize your newsletters for key learnings.

Quizzes

People love quizzes, especially on social media. It’s also a genius way to learn more about your audience than any other technique. An easy tactic to start is a quiz themed to “What ___ Are You?”. Make sure you come up with questions that will help you in your your quest to understand your audience, such as “do you like to attack and solve problems, or do you seek the advice of others?”.

Facebook Insights

Immediately upon logging into Facebook, navigate to the left side menu and select Insights. You’ll find your Facebook audience demographics under the People category. Be sure to also note the section for when your fans are online to see what types of content you should be sharing to this audience. Lunch hour readers prefer entertainment, while morning browsers are primed for news. Long reads are best for the evening and weekend. For many brands, their Facebook audience consists of different groups, using Facebook at different times. Optimize your Facebook posts for greatest potential to collect the most audience data possible.

Twitter Analytics

Every user can now access their Twitter analytics. Similar to Facebook, Twitter’s Analytics lets you see basic audience demographic information (do you see any differences between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?) as well as an overview of your tweet performance. Twitter add-on Followerwonk assesses the bios of your followers to provide you with insights on their interests and how they describe themselves. You can see who else your followers tend to follow, what they tweet about and Followerwonk points you in the direction of new groups to go after (moms who love DIY or dads who like soccer).

LinkedIn Audience

When viewing your company page, select Analytics. You’ll see a concise listing of your posts’ performance as well as audience demographics. LinkedIn shares what level of professional attainment your followers are: entry-level employee through owner or VPs. You can also select Industry and Job Function from the audience data drop down menus. It’s highly advisable to appropriately tailor your content to appeal to the right level of reader: decision maker or someone who might suggest your company to the decision maker.

 

pro pic 150Diana Mackie is a small business writer, specializing in marketing and content. Diana writes for AllBusiness, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing and many other publications. She is currently the Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates. Diana attended Fordham University and now lives in New York City.

 

Boost Your Social Media Engagement With These Tips

Boost Social Media EngagementEveryone wants more likes, RTs, pins, favorites and shares on their social media posts. Isn’t that the point of social media, to spread your business and personal influence to as many potential followers and customers as possible?

But how do you earn those RTs and shares? It may feel like there is some sort of secret sauce that makes some users get more than you, but it isn’t. Here are numerous ways that you can boost engagement on your social media accounts.

Listen to and engage with your Customers

This one is easy and is one of the main elements of the Duct Tape Marketing Social Media System. Social media is not designed to be a one-way street. You can’t just broadcast your messages and expect your customers to engage with you. Social media is best used as a listening post, a momentary glance at what your customers are doing and talking about.

Take time to listen to your customers. Create a Twitter list of your customers and maybe even the accounts they engage with most. Find what they’re talking about and, if it applies to your business, join the conversation.

Imagine if you are a plumber, and one of your customers tweets their frustration with a DIY plumbing project they are working on. This is a perfect opportunity to offer some tips. If they can fix it, great! Now you have earned even more trust. If they can’t figure it out, I’d be willing to bet you’ll be the first plumber they call.

Add Visuals / Videos

Social posts are much more likely to be engaged with if they have pictures or videos attached. This can be anything from product pictures, to behind the scenes photos, to custom infographics or designs. Videos can include do-it-yourself step by steps or just personal updates from the owner.

If you have a new display in your shop, share a photo to drum up excitement. Even taking an Instagram photo of the sunrise over your building is a great way to engage your customers. They were probably already talking about the weather.

There are many great tools out there to create excellent custom graphics and infographics on a budget. I’d suggest piktochartpiktochart for more complex infographics or Canva for social and blog images like the one above.

Give Promotions

Promotions can be a great way to spur engagement. Offer your customers a discount or a freebie for a share or retweet, and you’ll see your post spread like fire through their social networks. This can even be offered to guests who have already come into the store. If you offer them a promotion at the point of sale, it can be a nice surprise, especially if they were already planning to buy.

Ask a Question

Ask your customers for their opinion and they’ll be happy to give it to you. You can even include polls on Facebook giving your customers multiple choices. On Twitter, ask your customers to RT for one option, and favorite for another. The RTs will almost always win (RT’s will spread to other people’s feeds where favorites won’t) so it isn’t scientific, but it will certainly help increase your engagement and help you identify leads.

If you’d rather not use an actual poll, you can also create photos and graphics with multiple options and ask your followers what they prefer. You should share your customers’ answers and engage with the conversation that ensues.

Include a Call to Action

All sales copy you write usually includes a call to action, why should social media be any different? You should always include some call to action. Avoid using phrases like “Please RT” or “Like this post for…” unless it is a promotion. Instead, try to get a bit more creative.

For example, if you want someone to share your post on Facebook, try concluding your post with “Ask your friends and family what they think.” The easiest way to do that is simply press the share button. Or maybe this call to action can simply be an attempt to get people in the door like “Hurry in before they’re gone!”

Earning social media engagement isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is design your posts and make it easy for your customers to engage.

Do you have examples of social media posts you have created that used these tactics? Let me know in the comments below, or share them with me on Twitter – @AlexBoyerKC

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. He loves to write, tweet and talk about sports and content marketing. Connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

The Minimalist Guide To Managing Your Brand Reputation Online

A dissatisfied customer, on an average, tells 25 of his friends, while a happy one tells only 15. Seems like if good reviews spread like wildfire, bad reviews would be rushing with light speed. Reviews, and how the masses consume them, are human nature, but this human nature can be fatal for online businesses especially at a time when 8 out of 10 customers treat and trust online reviews just like personal recommendations.

Let me tell you, brand value is diluting. And it marks an uprise of a generation of advocates and influencers that are a part of the crowd our customers identify with.

So here is a quick look at the ways you can ensure that your online brand reputation shines forever like gold and earns you higher AOVs, bigger ROIs, and ever increasing conversions.

How to ensure that each product has at least five reviews

Tip #1: Ask and ye shall receive

Most customers will happily review your product if you ask for it. Just call them up or send a follow-up email. This picture here shows how to get reviews on site through email:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.55.46 AMTip #2: Give an incentive for review

For the hesitant ones, incentivise the review process. Run a reward point campaign or a loyalty program. [editor note – the FTC frowns on this practice unless you disclose that the review was incentivized.]

Tip #3: Poach the influencers

Dig out the people whose reviews are most trusted and offer them freebies or trial packs to ensure that each product has been reviewed.

How to manage third-party reviews (off-site)

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.56.03 AMManaging third-party reviews can get a little twisted if you do not have an automated services like Yotpo, which will syndicate all reviews in one dashboard and give you a chance to monitor and reply them instantaneously.

The first thing you need is a customer content service and second, a Godly omni-presence. Staying social does help, but so does having a profile on every review site. A great idea would be to have a separate profile, maybe on Twitter, to handle customer complaints.

Finally, be open and amiable. A demonstration of ‘respect for your customer’s opinion’ and ‘openness to take up criticism in stride’ will take your business a long way in fetching you repeat, happy customers.

How to build a positive reputation online and leverage customers’ trust

Most of the marketing experts unanimously vouch for one factor that gets most conversions, which is openness for customer opinions.

Step #1: Patiently listen to your customer.

Step #2: Respond instantly, but in an appreciative, comforting tone.

Step #3: Be vigilant.

If you find a great review somewhere, spread it on social media and display it on your site as a badge of honor and proof of great service.

Pay special attention to negative reviews. Do not leave them unaddressed. As much as you try to delight your happy customers through giveaways and discounts, try to make amends with the angry ones too. Apologize with a genuine voice and thank them for pointing out the potholes in your service. Send them goodies or vouchers if they are really unhappy with your service. However, do not do this too often or with everyone as it will encourage bad reviews more than good ones.

Believe it or not, customer reviews boil down to one thing – perceived value or customer expectation. If you set it too high on your website and the product doesn’t live up to it, your customer is going to feel disappointed. Keep the product copy unique and compelling but do not exaggerate its features.

parasParas heads Product Marketing at TargetingMantra, a SaaS company that lets ecommerce retailers create a personalized shopping experience for their customers just like Amazon and Zappos. An expert in Personalization and behavioral targeting, Paras has consulted over 50 clients across the globe on conversion optimization and increasing customer loyalty. He is a serial entrepreneur from IIT-Guwahati and Indian School of Business, who loves to spend his time exploring new technologies. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

5 Ways to Produce Eye-Catching Content Without a Designer

photo credit: kaboompics

photo credit: kaboompics

There’s nothing like great content. I create it for work. I create it for fun. Crazy? Perhaps. Especially since creating good, visually appealing content is a huge challenge faced by many.

There is no rule that says you have to hire a pricey graphic designer in order to generate beautiful, design-rich content.  Of course, design specialists are a great resource to have on a team – but, for many earlier-stage businesses, increased costs and headcount may not be ideal.

Luckily, a universe of tools exist that enable quick content creation for even the non-designers among us – whether it’s as simple as a quick meme or as elaborate as an ebook. Slim, bootstrapping teams could wear a designer hat and produce the rich content quickly and inexpensively by enlisting some of these fantastic content-producing tools:

Capture the moment with Skitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.16 PMSkitch is a great app that helps brands tell a visual story – and it’s free! Grab a quick screenshot on your device and mark it up with arrows, boxes, text and more. Skitch lets you mark up images, digital assets, PDFs, and other files with arrows, callout boxes, text, and more.

I find that at least once a day I use Skitch’s “Screen Snap” function to grab all or part of my screen for use in content. I don’t need to plug my captured image into another program for further cropping and other editing since the all-in-one features of Skitch enable me to do so right in their app. A great time saver and useful tool for supporting your talking points with a rich visual design.

Skitch is owned by Evernote but does not require an Evernote account to start using. Try it out and screengrab to your heart’s content.

Don’t use any old font, use Dafont

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.42 PMSick of using Times and Ariel in your creative. Aren’t we all? Luckily, resources like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel and more offer a wealth of wonderfully designed, open-source fonts to add a little character to your characters.

I like Dafont for its abundance of options that range from general purpose to highly specialized. Each font is well-tagged so the site’s great search function could pull up just what you’re looking for. Simply download, install and use a desired font in graphics, presentations, ebooks and more – just make sure to check for any attribution requirements.

Pound out a quick infographic with Piktochart

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.07 PMThere’s nothing like a good infographic to capture an audience and teach them something new. When it’s simple to create in just minutes and free, it’s all the more reason to inject them into a content strategy.

Piktochart is quick and simple for anyone to create professional-looking infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. An intuitive interface and simple drag-and-drop features help a designer-less team fake it until they make it.

Get instant access and “start creating in 30 seconds,” as the site’s homepage describes. Start yours from scratch, choose from customizable free templates or step up to Pro for some more options.

Along with the vast library of templates, you can find over four thousand graphics to really spruce things up, or get more custom and create your very own images. When generating visual creations to represent your brand, avoid a clunky MS Paint design and make them look professionally mastered at low commitment.

Become an author with Guides.co

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.14 PMHave what it takes to write an informative eBook but lack the design skill to bring into fruition? Guide.co offers the perfect solution.

We’ve all experienced the power of eBooks, in educating an audience, adding credibility and thought leadership status to a brand and capturing more qualified leads. But the more comprehensive the piece of content the more time and budget it consumes.

Guides.co provides a useful, plug-and-lay model to take on the burden creating an attractive body for your killer copy. Like Piktochart, Guides.co offers multiple templates to kick off your design – and easy-to-use customizing features help to guide your guide to fit your brand.

Guides.co even goes the extra mile and hosts your content on their site for the world to discover!

Get interactive and think ThingLink

ThingLink adds a totally new form to social media that brings life to your content. The tool makes interactive visual graphics easy to make and void of the premium price tag.

The site integrates with others like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo to pull in sounds and videos to add to your graphic.

Register for free or get a few other advantages with a membership – but you might not need to spend the extra cash. The tools basic features enable users to design quite rich, interactive videos and images to incorporate into a content marketing strategy.

Even better, once completed, ThingLink lets you tag your piece and share with your social network along with their own community. Interact with other creative ThingLink users for ideas, inspiration and feedback.

Go forth and design

Designing is not easy. Supplementing the talent of an experienced designer will save costs but could indeed reduce the effectiveness of a content strategy. However, since more basic content is better than no content at all, getting your engine running with intuitive and affordable tools is key.  Helpful apps that enable the everyday entrepreneur or busy marketing generalist to design without breaking the bank or eating up your time is lifesaving.

Have any questions about improving your content strategy? Contact me! 

VinceVince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Skilled in strategic data-driven campaign management, Vince focuses on demand generation programs that influence growth, including marketing automation, social media, digital advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, public relations, video and event marketing.? Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing, and design.

 

3 Effective Ways to Use a Blog to Boost Your Retail Business

Depositphotos_41742531_smallA million times you’ve heard that you need a blog to get more customers. Maybe you even created a blog for your retail business. You created the blog, wrote a bunch of articles with eager anticipation of the customers who would stampede through your door. You stare at your door waiting…

The flood of new customers never arrives. Heck, it seems like not a single additional customer came in due to your blog. What’s wrong? Maybe you’ve avoided creating a blog because of similar stories you’ve heard from others who have tried and failed. Whether you have tried a blog and had no success or avoided starting a blog, this article is for you.

What nobody explains about blogging for a retail business

Nobody explains just HOW to blog to bring customers through your door, but I’m here to help you with that. The first mistake that everybody makes is blogging about them self. The truth is your customers don’t care about you. Customers care about themselves. They’ll never come into your shop just to put money in your cash register; they’ll only come to get something they want or need for themselves. So, blog about how your customers benefit from your products.

Here are 3 things that will help you attract customers to your store.

1. Demonstrate your products being used

Few stores show their product being enjoyed or put to best use.

Write a blog post showing how your product can be used. If your product is a tool, show it being used by an expert to fix things. If it is clothing, show it being worn with other items you sell and inspire your customers to make their own fashion statement. How-to articles are one of the most popular types of blog posts. People are always searching for ways to do something. Demonstrate what problem your product solves or how people are happier using your product.

IKEA’s Share Space blog allows people show the creative ways they have used IKEA products. The blog is written in a casual, friendly tone and includes lots of pictures of people’s projects.

2 Establish trust in your industry

Over 80% of people do research on the web before making a purchase. A blog is the perfect place to give people a buying guide to the products you sell. Start by answering questions that your customers regularly ask.

River Pools and Spas started writing content on their blog that simply answered their customers’ questions. Today their blog gets more traffic than any other pool company site in the world.

Do not be a salesman when you write a guide. Write the post as if you were talking to a dear friend that you wanted to know the honest truth. Use some photographs in the article and help people understand why one feature is better, in what circumstances, and what its shortcomings are. Giving people honest expert advice to make a purchase will build a rapport with your customers.

Create an article that explains, step-by-step, how to use or make something with your product. Add a checklist, or questions to ask when shopping and you have given your customers a goldmine of information. Strive to inform in a way that doesn’t have the goal of making you money. Instead, help everyone better informed about your products.

3. Show off your shop’s personality

More and more, people are buying from those who they know, like and trust. A blog gives your shop personality. Like I said earlier, you don’t want to sound like a salesman. When you write blog posts, be personable.

Use empathy with your customer when writing. By sharing common experiences with your customers, you are building a relationship with them because you have a shared interest in common. This increases the bond you and your customer have and will increase traffic through your door.

The Artists Frame Service does a good job of mixing in their personality with their blog.

Your customers are online and you should be there too

Retail blogs fail because they don’t focus on what the customers want; blog about topics that your customers find interesting. A blog is the easiest way to link your brick and mortar store with the online world. If you use it right, you’ll have a major advantage over your competition.

Your customer will be much more likely to find you in search engines. You’ll not only answer all their questions but show them that you really get them. They will remember you for it, and from then on they will much rather come to your shop over others.

robert-newmanRob Newman is CEO of Get Web Clients. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to get more visitors to your website, build your email list, and become an authority in your niche, subscribe today.

 

The 20 Minute Social Media Routine for Haters

Haters Guide

Created with Canva

I love social media, but I acknowledge it can be time-consuming. Sometimes I find myself losing hours reading great content and keeping up on the latest news 140 characters at a time. If you’re a small business owner, you probably feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to grow your business let alone tweet, post, like, share and pin on social media. You may even hate social media entirely.

At Duct Tape Marketing, we’re all about creating systems that help you execute your marketing tasks quickly and get back to running your business. John created a robust system that hit all of the important aspects of social media some time ago, but it does require some love and attention. For all you haters out there, it may be too much.

But, with a few handy tools, you can develop a quick social media routine that will help you reach your goals. Here are three steps that even the biggest hater can use to rock social media in less than 20 minutes a day.

Automatically Share Your Content

Your # 1 focus for your social media routine should be to drive traffic to your blog. You should make it a part of your posting routine to share your new content on social media. You can save a little time by installing a WordPress plugin like Jetpack Publicize to share directly from your WordPress dashboard. You can even adjust your settings, so the post is shared automatically as soon as you publish.

Est. Time Per Day: If installed as part of your content posting routine, less than 2 Minutes.

Schedule Updates

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook live in the moment, so to speak. Posts don’t last long in your customers’ timelines, and they don’t often go searching for past posts. That’s why your social media success relies upon your ability to post and share frequently when your customers are most active.

That would require multiple posts at peak times throughout the day but that’s far too time-consuming.

Luckily there are several social media tools you can use to pre-write and schedule your posts, including Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer.

These tools will also give you the opportunity to schedule several posts promoting your new content posts throughout the day. Social media is more popular in the afternoons after work, so take advantage of that knowledge and make sure you promote your blog posts then, regardless of when you publish.

Don’t even want to write the posts? Use Emphatic and you’ll get a number of social posts handwritten for you, and can approve and schedule them directly from their dashboard. They’ll even collect content from a list of blogs of your choosing, and create posts to share that content. It’s almost as if you don’t have to do social media at all.

Est. Time Per Day: 8 minutes for plenty of social posts. Less if you use post creation services like Emphatic.

Share Content

One of the best ways to spread your social influence is to share content from other influencers. Take a few moments a day to read a blog post or two from influencers in your industry and share what you read on social media.

To save time finding posts to share, you can set up Twitter lists of your favorite blogs. Want to collect content to share outside of social media platforms? Use Feedly or any other RSS reader to collect all of your favorite blogs in one place, and take some time to read every day. Then you can collect the links, schedule your posts in Buffer, and you’ll never have to visit the actual social media site.

Est. Time Per Day: 10 minutes, most of which is spent reading. The sharing itself takes just minutes.

Hate it or not, social media is where a lot of your customers get their moment-to-moment news. Every day that you aren’t leveraging social media to reach them is another day that you and your business are forgotten. Installing a social media routine with these three easy steps can maximize your impact, without taking too much time out of your already busy schedule. Just 20 minutes a day is all it takes to rock social media.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443

Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC

How to Choose the Right Content Platform

Why do we need so many content platforms?

information overloadSometimes it feels like we are drowning in our Twitter feed and don’t have time to read through all of our Feedly blogs. We are in information overload, and it’s not slowing down. Social media, emails, blogs, websites, advertisements, radio, television, are all coming at us with tons of “need to know” information. Wouldn’t life be easier with one content platform? One place where we get all the information we ever needed?

Yea, that would be great. Unfortunately, just like some of us are listening learners, some are visual and some are doers, everyone consumes information in different ways. Certain topics might be interesting to some people, and they will spend time reading into the topics, watching videos, looking at pictures, clicking through to find more information. Others might not even get through that headline.

For that reason, we have hundreds of content platforms to choose from. That being said, how do you choose the platform that is right for your organization?

  1. Examine your ideal customer.
  2. Identify your assets.
  3. Match your tools with your time.

Examine your Ideal Customer

If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, stop right here and go read this. For those of you who do know who your ideal customer is, do you know where they spend the most time online? In order to know what content platforms to focus on, you absolutely have to know this.

If you are spending time on Facebook posts and advertising, but your ideal customer is reading reddit, then you are throwing money to the wind, and no one wants to do that. Examine your ideal customer, where they are getting their news, where they are shopping, and ultimately, where they want to see information about your brand.

Identify your Assets

Many organizations attempt to participate on certain content platforms because that’s where their ideal customer is active, but don’t have the right assets to be engaging on that platform. If you offer a service rather than a product, a visual platform like Instagram might be difficult to participate on. If that platform is where your ideal customer is active, you’ll need to spend time developing those visual assets.

Determine what kind of information you already have available, and then push the limits with that information. Determine how it can be turned into a video, photo, graphic, podcast, blog post, website page, etc. Take the content you have, and turn it into the content you need!

Match your Tools with your Time

This step is where you determine what you need to be doing, with what you are capable of doing. If I am someone’s ideal customer, for example, a brand might want to reach me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, e-newsletter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and via commercials during Survivor. A little overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to scale your content strategy:

  • Plan Plan Plan
    Planning your content out can help you get the most out of the content that you have – and will help you to not constantly be looking for something to use. You’ll be prepped and ready to go with your next post, picture, etc.
  • Quality Trumps Quantity
    Producing content for the purpose of producing content isn’t fooling anyone. With the amount of content available today, people can be picky with what they are soaking in. Make sure you are offering the best value for your customers as you can.
  • Repurpose
    Again, thinking outside the box about content that you already have is a great way to really drive home good information in a variety of ways. Be creative and you’ll get more miles out of your blog post and podcasts than you ever thought possible!

What content platforms are you trying to reach in your content strategy?

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

How to Be or Not Be In a Digital World

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.15.06 PMWe’ve watched online presence transform from a hobby or a pastime into a mandatory, crucial, and overwhelmingly powerful tool practiced by everyone familiar with the World Wide Web. What is fast becoming clear is that 10 years from now, online presence will replace resumes and will serve as our business card whether for professional purposes or social and romantic ones. This reality lends urgency to the question of how we, average Joes, promote ourselves on the web? How do we become our own content marketing, SEO, and copywriting team?

Gone are the days of posting whatever feels right at the spur of the moment anywhere and everywhere on the web. The good old days of carefree frolicking on the net have made way to a new and very different kind of web presence. This is the time of the carefully thought out posts, the manicured pictures, and the well-formulated responses. These are the days of the meticulously crafted Likes and Shares and the cautionary tales of intimate affairs gone viral and private pictures haunting teenage girls.

At the Social Fresh Conference a few months ago, three out of five panelists chose to discuss digital presence. In the words of the table’s moderator, “practically every business in the world knows the importance of an online presence. Most people find it off-putting if a business doesn’t have a website to talk about itself.” With recruiters and hiring managers in businesses of all sizes turning to the web to gain insight into potential candidates and one in every five employers using social networks to screen job seekers, it is clear why being MIA online is deemed anachronistic, hidebound and even suspect.

Hard Times for Small Businesses

This is a paradox unique to our time. We live in a profoundly online culture with enormous access to information. However, many small to medium businesses have not quite caught up to this digital explosion and find themselves lagging behind, always one step behind the latest social network taking the world by storm.

In Came the Social Media Assistance Tools

In the world of online, where a need is determined, a product is usually not far behind. In the wake of the ever growing social platforms, online services have sprung up to offer tracking, management, and synchronization support. Software such as Hootsuite, Oktopost, and Sociota provide a one-stop-shops for managing all your media accounts, Lithium offers to nurture all your customer support and care relations for you, and Engagor targets conversations involving your business or brand as they happen in real time across all social media platforms. Such services were constructed with the small business sector in mind. They aim to provide an answer for businesses that don’t yet have those big marketing departments and extravagant social budgets.

Yet services catering to small businesses go far beyond online management and monitoring tools. With the understanding that even brick-and-mortar businesses are in need of serious web visibility came a slew of geo-based software such as Moment.me, which will aggregate all relevant social media posts related to an address you input.

If a Dog is Man’s Friend Then…

I’ve heard it said that social media assistance software is a small business’ best friend. Like a good assistant, it badgers you as little as possible with questions you don’t have clear answers for and before you know, it gets the job done. If tracking your social media traffic is what you’re after, communicating with your customers in real time, or making yourself relevant on as many social media platforms as you possibly can, these tools have your name written all over them.

b&w author pic 1Anat Richter is Content Marketing Director at emaze. When she isn’t tapping away in its Tel Aviv offices, she is documenting life on the web as a user and a guest blogger.