This summer I attended a staff appreciation barbeque for a client. The hosts are great people and I had a lovely evening, chatting with guests, enjoying a campfire and dining on a sumptuous meal. Yes, I had seconds of everything, including dessert. It was that good.
As I am a sucker for delicious fare, I had to ask the chef about the yummy dishes he had prepared. Well, one thing led to another and the conversation swung around to social media. Chef Chad was in the process of setting up a new catering business. He had worked in several upscale restaurants over the years, but was hungering for a change. Starting his own business was great, but getting the word out about it was a different matter entirely. He was curious about what I did for CLC Tree Services. I don’t think he realized what he was getting into when he asked.
When I have the opportunity to speak about the merits of social media with people not overly familiar with it I have been known to go on, and on, and on… It apparently is a bit of a passion. So when Chad asked, “What’s a blog?”, I launched into my spiel.
As you are reading this, you probably already have some idea, but if you are new to blogging, give me a moment to share my passion. Old forms of advertising are falling by the wayside. The Yellow Pages have shrunk and their circulation is being curtailed. When people want to find information on something or locate a business, they pull out their smartphones and google it. Companies who do not have a presence online are losing out on this huge market where not only can you advertise that you exist, but you are can establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field, whether that be tree services, real estate, plumbing or junk removal (yes, I have worked for all of these clients). If you have a business, you need that market of people who want your goods or services. Social media helps them find you.
So how does it work? For starters, you can set up a website. Websites serve as a great place to let people search for what you have to offer. They want baby clothes? You’ve got them! Their children want to take an art class? You’ve got classes starting next week. In theory, it gives the public easy access to what they want to know.
BUT what about your competition? There might be dozens, hundreds or thousands of other companies out there who are offering the same or similar services/products. When people go searching for something and turn up a million hits, typically they will only peruse the first page or two of results. Where you want your business to be is on that first page. You have to be, or else consumers will never find you (unless they already know you exist and are specifically seeking you out). How do you up your chances of getting onto that all-important first page in search results? Search engines have to find you searchable.
Have I lost you yet? Stay with me. I’m getting to an important point here.
So search engines are constantly scouring the net for information. No easy task, as there are over 4.7 billion indexed pages out there. Mind-boggling in scope really. Finding your business on the web is equivalent to searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack.
Don’t be discouraged!
There is a way to increase your chances of being found. Most search engines tend to return local sites first (if you allow them to know your location or keep some cookies). That helps. Having a current website gives them a landing space too. The fresher your content, the more recently the web crawlers will visit your site. But if all you have is a website that was updated months or years ago, then I hate to tell you, but the search engines won’t have visited. And if they forget you exist, they aren’t going to be informing those desired customers you want that you exist either. You have to remind them that you exist.
“How?” you ask.
You have to be active. No one experts your website to be a constantly changing thing, so that is where social media comes in. The best way to be remind those search engines you exist is by publishing fresh content regularly. And there are lots of ways of doing that. I bet you can think of a few without me even having to tell you. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, not to mention the humble blog. Every time you publish a status update, picture, tweet or whatever, the search engines immediately visit. The more you do that, the more often they visit.
Are you getting it yet? I think this is where overwhelmed people often have light bulbs start to glow in their heads. In order to be noticed, you have to make yourself noticeable. Makes sense, right?
I should note that quality is still important. It is one thing to make a presence and have web crawlers visit, but who you really want to visit are those customers. And in order for them to visit and convert to a fan and customer, you need to impress them with your quality of service and expertise.
If it seems like a lot to process, it is. And I realize it can be hard to find the time to jump into social networking, when you already have a company to run. I get it. But every little bit helps. And sometimes that means asking for help. Hence how I got involved in social networking myself. I understand enough about it to play the game. I am not necessarily active everywhere nor even on every social platform, but I do what I can. And as I am a writer by trade, I can help companies who would like to create a bit more presence do that. I blog. And I blog for others who need someone who is a bit more of an expert on the platform than they are. I have the time to research, write and edit articles on a wide variety of topics.
There are a few people who appreciate that enough that I have been working with them for a while. Now Chef Chad is interested too. I don’t profess to be an expert on everything, but I can manipulate words well enough to make an impact. Some people call me wordy, but when I start talking social media, I’ve had more than one audience interested. And if that gets me a few new clients at the end of the day, I guess we can all be happy about that.
After my conversation with Chad this summer, it got me invited to a #FoodBlogTour in Chatham, so I don’t regret a thing. More delicious Field to Fork meals for me makes me plump and happy. And happy to keep talking social media to whomever wants to listen.