5 Easy Social Media Hacks To Better Engage Your Audience

A phone open to an app

 

Social media is a frequently overlooked realm of digital marketing. It tends to be an afterthought in business, with leads and immediate results as a priority. The truth is that your presence on social media is essential in modern marketing.

Your social accounts are like your digital business card. They represent what you want to reflect as a brand. They may not produce instant results or sales, but they are part of a larger concept of creating brand awareness. Social media is a company’s key to promoting their personal image and interacting with organic traffic.

They are a front-line for interacting with existing customers and potential leads. Your social accounts have the role of welcoming new users in, as well as pleasing and entertaining existing customers. The role of social media in marketing cannot be overlooked. It is a powerful tool for advertisement.

With that said, social posts, especially when there are multiple companies involved, can be very time-consuming. When you incorporate things like paid search, it becomes a full-time job to monitor social accounts, to be sure they are growing and doing well. Here are some easy hacks to quickly and efficiently jumpstart your social media campaign.

1. Schedule Social Posts In Advance

Scheduling your social posts is necessary. Especially if you are running more than one social account. The key to staying organized and on top of your accounts is proper planning in advance.

Keep a spreadsheet or document where you can plan out your social posts for the upcoming week. Designate specific roles such as content creation and copywriting. There are a variety of different tools that can help you schedule your posts:

HubSpot 

HubSpot, the inbound marketing tool for small to large businesses makes it easy to organize and schedule your posts on all social media platforms. HubSpot also notifies you when you receive comments or messages on your social platforms, so you won’t miss a thing.

Buffer

Buffer is another social media management tool. It allows you to schedule content, link to analytics and sync with multiple accounts, so you can ensure your posts are coordinated. Buffer can be used for all social media platforms.

Grum

Grum is a scheduling tool used specifically for Instagram. It allows you to switch between multiple Instagram accounts and schedule posts and captions.

These tools and many like them help to organize and align your social media plan. They give you a tangible way to control the timing and consistency of posts. They also give you insight on optimal posting times.

2. Adopt A Theme For Your Social Media Accounts

The highest ranking social accounts in marketing these days all have a certain theme. This theme accurately represents the brand and the content they want to be associated with.

Look at RedBull for example – the energy drink is associated with more than simply staying awake. They sponsor athletes and extreme sports competitions around the world. This commitment to action is reflected in their social accounts. They display the idea that drinking RedBull does more than energizing, it promotes individuals to go that extra mile and live an active life. Their social accounts attract younger target audiences with photos that all follow the brands’ theme. The social accounts play a large role in creating this consistent image for the company.

Just like this example, it is very important to have a specific audience that you tailor your content towards. This helps you determine what themes you would like to use. Arrange your posts in a theme that accurately reflects your brand. You can analyze your target market to gain insight on what they like to see. You can also do competitor research in order to set your brand apart.

Helpful Tools For Social Themes

Some great editing and planning tools that help to quickly and visually improve your social accounts include:

Canva

Canva is a very straightforward design app. It lets you quickly create beautiful images and promotions. You can also pick from pre-made templates and stock images for inspiration and practical use.

VSCO

VSCO is a mobile photography app that lets you design custom filters for your images. It is an interactive platform where you also have the opportunity to share a gallery and interact with a community of photographers. This app is useful if you are looking to create a unique or signature filter for your images across social media platforms.

Unum

Unum is one of the most straightforward planning tools for Instagram. It allows users to upload images to a mock gallery to see how they fit with your Instagram’s theme. The app connects to your account and displays your existing gallery, as well as blank spaces where you can upload images to see how they fit with your gallery visually. Unum also has a scheduling feature, so you can plan and schedule your gallery to post consistently.

A themed social media account is becoming less of a stylistic preference and more of a necessity. You want your accounts to reflect your professional abilities and your brand. You need to tailor your accounts and adopt a theme that’s consistent throughout for easy brand recognition and association.

If you are not sure what type of theme to adopt, check your competitor’s accounts. Look at other successful pages and draw inspiration from that. Chances are, you have a similar buyer persona, that will be attracted to the same style. Pay attention to what your followers post, and post things that would be relevant, attractive, and useful to them.

3. Be Consistent – Manage Brand Reputation

In the vein of creating a consistent image, ensuring external factors don’t negatively affect that image is also important. Have your brand guidelines in mind when you create social posts. Use specific colors or logos so that your viewers are able to associate your posts with your brand easily.

Manage your digital reputation carefully. Unfollow or block unsavory accounts. You want your followers to be organic and interested in your profile because they are interested in your brand.

Delete unwanted comments and block spam users. No matter what kind of business you are, there will always be a time when you encounter negative feedback. Take the time to create a plan for reputation management on all social accounts.

Clearly outline content that you want to be posting, sharing and associated with, as well as users and content that you want to stay away from. It is also important to note that you should have complex passwords for all of your company social accounts and change them frequently.

The biggest part of social media brand reputation management is ensuring your image stays far away from negative associations. You want to connect with buyer persona’s, people interested in your brand and filter out internet trolls and spam accounts.

These accounts can tarnish your online image. You can add a watermark to your content or your logo, to ensure it isn’t being used by others on the web. Having a clean and positive digital image promotes credibility towards your brand, and builds trust in your potential clients and customers.

4. Be Interactive Online

One of social media’s core benefits is that it’s inherently interactive. It is easy to connect with people when they have inviting images and a theme that projects your interests. Be approachable online, and know that social is a great place to generate leads. People connect with your image and message you.

Use Automated Messages

It is very common, especially if a user really likes one of your social accounts, for them to message you as a business. This is done directly through social channels via comments or private messages. If you notice this happening frequently, and you have a lot of private messages on multiple social media accounts, it is a good idea to employ an automated system.

This automatic reply can be pre-written and it assures the person interested in your brand that their message has been received and they will have a chance to connect with a human soon. This saves you time so you can prioritize responses for those who are messaging. Facebook has this feature built in and you can choose to enable it in your messaging system.

Facebook has an automated reply option on the platform, but you can also generate your own through external apps.

Hold Contests and Secret Sales

A great way to reward your dedicated followers on social accounts is by hosting secret sales, only accessible by social media. It is also a great way to get noticed and get your name shared with others.

Depending on what you are looking for, you can have followers share a photo and tag your company, or use a company hashtag to indicate everyone participating in the secret sale or benefits. Contests create a sense of community while promoting interest and excitement about your brand.

Run Polls

Polls allow you to gain greater insight into what your users like. They are also much more direct than simply observing user behavior. With polls you can ask your users what they like, fun questions to get them involved, or simply inspire conversation amongst your followers.

Respond And Interact With Your Users

Interact with your users directly on social media platforms. Test your knowledge of your buyer personas and use what your followers are posting and saying to help add insight into what they like and what they are interested in.

Your followers will identify with you more as a brand if you are always on their minds (or phones). When you personally reach out to connect, be it through liking other photos, commenting or responding to comments, you promote direct interaction with your brand. You make your followers feel welcome and heard, they will look at you more as a friend than as a brand.

5. Track Change And Monitor What Does Well

It can be difficult to know exactly how to manage your social accounts right off the bat. It is best to monitor your progress over time.

Base new posts on posts that have done well in the past. Use the process of trial and error to experiment with your posts, theme and subject matter and see what content does well. Get feedback from your viewers both directly and indirectly.

Hold a poll to determine a new online theme, or simply observe which posts perform best and why. Perform competitor research and look at what is trending, as well as ways to stand out.

The best way to perform well online is to be observant. If a particular one of your posts is doing well consider investing in ads and promoted posts. These boost your reach to viewers who may be interested in your business.

Social media mastery isn’t learned overnight. Due to its ever-evolving nature, some might argue that constant change and experimentation is the key to getting ahead with social media marketing. Use the platforms to your advantage and get your brand involved in social media.

5 Tips To Navigate Instagram Stories

girl using cell phone

Ever since the rise of Snapchat, social media outlets have been pining to capture the addictive pull that the ghost created.

There is something infectious about sharing live updates of your day-to-day life. Blame narcissism, but this interactive form of sharing is only becoming increasing popular.

Instagram is a popular app with young users. Yet, it decided that its most recent update would introduce an interface that challenged the Snapchat rise to fame.

If they say imitation is flattery, that may be the case with this battle of the giants: Instagram vs. Snapchat.

Welcome To Instagram Stories

Instagram introduced “Instagram Stories” in August 2016. It has been improving the feature with every following update. There are many appealing benefits to the launch of stories.

As with all app updates, this came quickly and without much instruction. It left many users thinking, “how on earth do I use this new component?”

Stories had opened up a new, more immediate way of sharing, outside of posting in your image gallery. The disappearing photos create a sense of immediacy. They enable viewers to keep up with their friends lives in real time.

Influencers especially have a greater reach when sharing stories with their Instagram followers. The Instagram Live feature allows for live, direct access for your followers. Celebrities gain a cult following of people, striving to keep up with the live documentation of their days.

Instagram Stories are here to stay. So for those of you struggling to keep up with these ever-changing apps, learn how to navigate the basics of this new and exciting feature.

1) The Basics

On Instagram stories, you have lots of different options to share with your followers. You can take a photo, video or boomerang clip. Reverse the image, go hands-free or go live.

The content that you post to your story will last for 24h and will appear at the top of your followers’ feeds.

Once you have a photo or video ready to post, there are options to personalize and edit it.

You can add your location to the story, as well as tag others in the image.

You can even use this feature for Instagram shoutouts. Or to notify your following of upcoming events or posts in your feed.

2) Uploading Existing Photos Or Videos

What if you have an old photo or video that your audience really needs to see? Have no fear, you can upload existing photos or videos from your camera roll as well.

Tap the stories icon and drag your finger up on the camera screen. It’s so straightforward yet so well hidden!

This should prompt Instagram to request access to your phone’s photos. Once granted, you will be able to scroll through your camera roll. This is a useful feature and it is often used to notify followers that you have recently posted a photo in your feed.

Take a screenshot of what you posted and add it to your story as well. You can’t always be sure that your followers will see your post if they’re scrolling through their feed.

This way, your photo at the top of their screen. You are the first thing they see. They can easily view your story and click to get to your gallery.

If you take a photo and want to save it to your phone as well as post it to your story, there is a save button at the bottom of the stories screen.

3) Make It Pretty

Instagram is a very visually focused app. It only makes sense that they allow you to filter your stories as well.

You can draw and write on the images and videos once they’re in your editing bar. There are a variety of different pen sizes and colours that you can choose from. As well as a host of images and banners to add to your visual display.

You can give your friends shoutouts or tag your location by typing the “@” sign, followed by your friends’ username.

You currently cannot add links to external web pages on Instagram Stories. But it is something that is in testing.

Instagram recently added facial filters for their stories feature. This is another nudge to Snapchat and their famous filters.

4) Who Can See My Instagram Stories?

If you don’t edit the viewers, everyone in your follower base will be able to view your story. If you don’t have a private account, anyone can see your Instagram Story.

Other users simply click on your profile image to see your story. You can limit who sees what you post on stories by going to the “Hide Story From” icon. This will let you select people to omit from your story.

Instagram Stories are an excellent asset to the app from a digital marketing perspective. It gives your followers direct access to your lifestyle, products and brand aesthetics.

5) What Is Instagram Live?

Instagram Live allows you to broadcast what you are doing in real-time and share it with your followers.

You can view how many followers are watching your live feed video and they can comment while you are hosting the video.

You are able to see the extent of your reach and interact with followers. You stay top of mind as your profile image is at the top of their feed every day.

You are able to save live videos. But the comments that people post on the video will not be.

Try It Out!

Instagram has successfully created a popular feature that is challenging Snapchat for users. The two apps are distinctly different. Yet the introduction of stories opened up many new sharing options for Instagram users.

There is a greater reach with Instagram Stories and it gives you the ability to interact live with your followers.

You can tag friends and add different locations. As well as keep your feed updated with aspects of your life that you may not otherwise post to your Instagram gallery.

The feature can be used for marketing and promotions, and you can use it to quickly notify followers of specials, deals or exclusive offers. Right in the top of their Instagram feed.

For more help on the basics of navigating Instagram stories, visit Instagram’s help center which discusses the stories feature in depth.

You can also follow @elementiq on Instagram to watch the masters of Instagram stories at work!

How To Leverage Instagram’s Rising Popularity For Your Business

instagram for business

Young, old; rich, poor; English speaking, non-English speaking. People are all over social networks.

They spend copious amounts of time being “social.” When at home, at the beach, on the bus, on vacation or at work, people are constantly connected.

One visual social media app is has been taking off like a rocket, and you need to know about it.

Instagram has steadily risen in popularity amongst individual users and advertisers – business owners and marketing managers.

It’s been a year since Instagram opened itself up to advertising and the app recently announced it had reached 500,000 business accounts which actively buy ads on the platform.

What You Probably Know About Instagram

But here’s what you might not know…

[ctt template=”11″ link=”NjOJE” via=”yes” ]As of February 2016, Instagram had 200,000 active advertisers. @Element_IQ[/ctt]

This was more than Twitter’s last announced total of advertisers of 130,000 back in the fourth quarter of 2015. So in comparison, this new total is enormous.

Before we delve into what this might mean for all you business owners and marketing managers out there, let’s just go through what the possibilities are for advertisers.

picture of pancakes on instagramI mean, after all, you’re curious about this app because you’re a business that wants to reach new customers or build brand awareness, right? Keep reading.

Instagram Accounts For Business

In July, Instagram rolled out business-specific accounts for businesses to sign up with or convert to for the purpose of in-app advertising.

These accounts also allow advertisers to examine the organic reach of their posts. Since then, 1.5 million businesses have signed up as or converted to business accounts.

As for Instagram users for businesses to connect with – well, there are a growing number of them. In fact, according to Instagram as of June 2016, it had reached 500 million users.

Enhanced Advertising Capabilities On Instagram

Internally, Instagram credits its success to its enhanced advertising capabilities, a lot of which are eerily similar to those of its parent company, Facebook.

Businesses on Instagram can use the self-serve ad system to produce ads without having to call an Instagram sales rep.

Brands can also use third-party apps to automate ads and can utilize a multi-photo carousel for advertising.

In August 2016, Instagram launched “ Instagram Stories”, it’s version of Snapchat in a very bold move. The app has also fairly recently made video a priority and allows brands to run video ads.

What This Means For Businesses Like Yours

It’s a sign that you should consider Instagram as part of your social media marketing mix. But it’s not for everyone. It could be tough for a B2B company unless you know that the decision-makers at companies you target are continually using Instagram.

So if your company markets to startup companies and you know decision-makers at these companies are young, intrepid entrepreneurs, give it a try.

It might not be for all B2C companies. If your ideal buyers are older in age, this might not be the marketing opportunity for you. In this instance, I’m thinking of companies that sell walk-in bathtubs, for example.

However, for numerous businesses out there, this could be your opportunity.

What You Need To Know Before Getting Your Business On Instagram

Consider these important factors:

  • This is a VISUAL app. End of story.
  • The people who use Instagram. Just like I mentioned above, you must know whether your ideal customers frequent Instagram or not. Otherwise, this will be a waste of your time and money. Know your buyer persona.
  • Know the user experience of the app. Due to Instagram’s fast-scrolling nature, it’s easy for users to go through several images in a few seconds. Which brings us to the next point.
  • What content gets them to pause. You better have great stuff on your Instagram account.
  • Your competitors. Are other companies in your space on Instagram? What do they post? Are they getting engagement from people?

Be Cautious When Using Instagram For Business

Remember that even before you engage in the advertising side of Instagram, it’s important to post great content. This blog post has been about getting on Instagram and leveraging its rising popularity – in the context of both its organic and paid fields.

Before advertising, make sure your account is stocked well in good content that your audience would be eager to engage with. It’ll make building your follower base much easier.

So To Summarize…

  • [ctt template=”11″ link=”Rd4Sg” via=”yes” ]Know your buyer personas. @Element_IQ[/ctt]
  • [ctt template=”11″ link=”QGZkb” via=”yes” ]Inform yourself on whether they (the ideal buyers of what you offer) use Instagram or not. @Element_IQ[/ctt]
  • [ctt template=”11″ link=”_b8Xc” via=”yes” ]Identify if you can create great content on Instagram that will make people eager to engage with it @Element_IQ[/ctt]

Keep in mind, we haven’t even addressed all the tactical items, like hashtags, tools to create your content, leveraging your competitors and so much more.

On the whole, Instagram has grown up very quickly in a short period of time. Much of this began when they sold their 13-person startup to Facebook in April 2012 for $1 billion. Needless to say, we’re all curious about what comes next for the mobile photo-sharing and video-sharing app.

Got a question? Leave a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

5 Lessons We Can Learn From Donald Trump’s Social Media Presence

donald trump for president

I’d like to make it clear that our office is a Trump-Free zone…most of the time.

donald trump in hollywood with shrek
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – MARCH 2006: Donald Trump kicks off the sixth season casting call search for The Apprentice held in the Universal Studios Hollywood, USA on March 10, 2006.

What I mean is that a good part of our daily office banter is usually directed towards making fun of Trump’s latest tweet or inflammatory rhetoric. It’s perfect ‘watercooler’ talk.

Although we’re terrified at the thought of him becoming President of the United States, there’s one department in which I have to hand it to the guy—his social media game is on point (with some exceptions)!

Before we continue, I should mention that we do not condone Donald Trump’s scapegoating, race-baiting remarks over the course of the last few years. This post solely looks at how he’s been utilizing social media.

In taking a gander through some of his latest tweets and social media tactics, I’ve come up with an (albeit embarrassing) list of lessons that we can learn from Donald Trump’s social media accounts.

I’ve even got some tips for you on how to be better at social, learning from what The Donald has done.

1. Authenticity ‘Trumps’ All

While it’s been reported that Donald Trump has had a few Digital Strategy advisors and social media employees, word is that HE is the sole person behind most of his own tweets (why am I not surprised?).

His lead Digital Strategist Justin McConney says Trump usually exercises his Twitter fingers in the evening, when most of his staff has left for the day. He knows his followers want pure, unadulterated Donald—and that’s what he gives them.

Consider this eye-opening detail spotted by Todd Vaziri:

You can tell who is tweeting based on trends of the device used! Trump’s hyperbolic tweets come from The Donald via his Android. His more ‘PC’ tweets come from his staff via an iPhone. This is an incredible trend to pick up on.

Authenticity is great for brands on social media. How one is perceived is a huge motivating factor for the public. Many people now base their buying decision on their relationship with the brand, rather than their need for a specific product.

Let’s Dissect Trump’s Content

Even from within his tweets, you can see the true authenticity of Trump. He LOVES using exclamation marks. In the 10 tweets prior to August 16, 2016, 6 of them concluded with an exclamation mark. That actually reminded the ElementIQ team of this:

He loves ending his tweets with a one-word adjective like “Sad”.

Sometimes he concludes his tweets with a multiple word reaction of what he says prior to it. Here’s an example using ‘Very dangerous!’:

That said, even the most authentic and big brands should be consulting with experts to make sure their messaging is strategic and well thought-out. While Trump’s after-hours rants make for great headline-news stories the next day, heated Twitter rants likely won’t get you the type of publicity you’ll want.

In this regard, Trump is in a league of his own. Anything he does makes headlines thus getting him media coverage for free. Some would argue that this is a good thing for him, whether the headlines are positive or not.

2. Know Your Buyer Persona – Enraged Conservative Republicans

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. In order to get the most out of your marketing dollars, you’ll want to know figure out who that customer base is and what they want.

In marketing, we talk about these buyer personas all the time. They form the basis of who you want to target with your strategy. For his presidential run, Donald Trump’s henchmen did the same.

Trump’s advisors reported listening to thousands of hours of conservative talk radio to learn about the kinds of issues conservative voters were most worried about.

Trump has since been using this information about his buyer personas to inform his presidential campaign strategy. He capitalizes on their fears, aspirations and pain points by speaking directly to them. He amplifies the ‘dire consequences’ of these issues not being solved or dealt with.

Here is an example:

Having this kind of intel on your target market can be a tremendous benefit to your brand if you use the information the right way. In Trump’s case, we like how he acknowledges pain points such as fear of terrorism and his solutions (“I would hit them so hard…”)

Here’s the thing, though. If you’re going to be making promises you should make sure that you’re able to deliver or else you’re in for a big public relations nightmare.

For the sake of our southern neighbours, we hope we never have to find out if Trump is able to deliver all the things he’s promised so far during his presidential campaign.

3. Make Use Of A Variety Of Social Media Networks

Trump already had an online following before he joined the presidential election and is relatively popular on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. With his presidential campaign now in full-swing, you can now see Trump on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope—he used the latter to announce his candidacy for president!

Pushing his content out on so many different platforms not only reaps tremendous engagement, but it helps with brand recognition.

Here’s his popular, yet controversial Facebook post on Cinco De Mayo:donald trump on cinco de mayo

Certain social media profiles resonate better with specific demographic groups. Okay, maybe not with Latino and Latina-Americans! Yet, Trump is not only hitting specific demographics within the conservative base but hitting them all at the right time. He’s doing this by experimenting with a wide range of social networks during real-time events.

Here’s where he falls short though—he doesn’t stay active on all of these platforms.

Being active and posting relevant content on a variety of social media platforms generally result in better rankings, brand awareness, and more website traffic.

Now, Trump’s celebrity and the fact that he’s the Republican nominee for President will ensure that he achieves these things anyways.

However, for the up-and-coming marketer or entrepreneur, allowing your social pages to go stale after your initial update definitely won’t do you any favors.

4. Keep A Pulse On What’s Trending

Donald Trump has admitted that he is not a politician…as if we needed any convincing! Now that he is playing the role of one, however, part of his social strategy has been to comment and live-tweet events.

Trump doesn’t just live-tweet political events like President Obama’s State of the Union speech, as you can see from above. He also shares his minute-by-minute thoughts on awards shows and television events like the Oscars, Celebrity Apprentice and an episode of Saturday Night Live that he was featured in.

We acknowledge Trump’s enthusiasm in being involved in these public events. While he certainly “shows up”, his commentary is often void of real facts. It’s riddled with crass and hatred-filled rhetoric and this is definitely not an ideal or useful tactic for regular people.

So, we say go ahead and participate in public conversations about world events. It gives you a chance to reach many people at once. In some cases, it can make you become a thought leader on trending conversations.

Just remember to keep your comments factual! Plus, avoid being a bigoted, racist bully and you should be fine!

5. Eye On The Competition – ‘Crooked Hillary’ And ‘Lyin’ Ted’

‘The Donald’ is in the loop with what his political opponents are doing and he uses this information to hit them where it hurts.

He gives them unappealing nicknames based on their personalities, media stories and political agendas.

“Crooked” Hillary Clinton got her moniker as a result of the FBI probe into her emails and questions about donors to her foundation.

Trump bestowed the nickname “Little” Marco Rubio upon Rubio in an attempt to, obviously, belittle him and Ted Cruz was given the name “Lyin” Ted Cruz during an argument at the Republican debate because Ted Cruz was allegedly untruthful.

While having competition intelligence can do you wonders for your own brand, we don’t condone bullying or mocking your competitors.

Recently, Michelle Obama delivered a very powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention in which she said:
“The issues a president faces are not black and white, and cannot be boiled down into 140 characters.”

While Obama never mentions his name, we know that this is a criticism of Donald Trump and his use of social media, specifically his habit of tweeting his opinions about complex and delicate subject matter.

Given her eloquent and clever verbiage, we are able to determine exactly who and what it is she’s talking about without the use of any insults or low blows on her part.

What this took:

  • A good copywriter (or speechwriter)
  • Some creativity
  • A thorough review of your competition and the strategies they employ

This can help you identify and display your own opportunities. You can then share your unique selling points (USPs) without explicitly exploiting your competition’s weaknesses.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – Donald Trump Is Making An Impact, Good Or Bad

Trump’s social media follower count:

donald trump social media metricsAnd while we don’t mind giving this presidential hopeful some props, we wouldn’t advise anyone to mimic his actions completely!

Tempestuous tweets and outbursts work for “The Donald”, but like we said earlier, he’s a special case.

For the average marketer, a social media campaign’s end goal should not just be just the amount of social shares and press you garner.

If you execute your social campaign based on truthfulness and authenticity, you’ll connect well with the audience you desire to.

With a thorough analysis of the buyer persona you’re targeting, as Trump did so well, you’ll discover the social channels that evoke trust and resonate with the people who you’ve set out to engage with.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below! What’s your take on Donald Trump’s use of social media marketing?

How To Claim And Optimize A Yelp Business Page

When you think of Yelp, do you first think of foodies posting restaurant reviews? In my previous blog post on LinkedIn optimization, I talked about how LinkedIn is much more than a job seekers website. In this case, Yelp is much more than a website for people to rate their favourite meals.

In fact, according to Yelp’s statistics, only 20% of total reviews are for restaurants. Whether you’re a dentist or candy store owner, Yelp can help increase the web traffic of your site and the foot traffic at your door. With a quick look at the US demographics you can see how Yelp is used by a wide range of age and income groups.

In this blog post, I’m first going to make the case why your business should have a Yelp business page. I’ll share some impressive stats, and then show you how to optimize your yelp listing for maximum traffic.

Why Your Business Should Be On Yelp

When Yelp first started in 2004, it was an email service for exchanging local business recommendations in San Francisco.  It would evolve into a business review website with social networking features, discounts, and mobile applications being used by consumers throughout the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and parts of of Europe.

Yelp receives 120 million monthly visitors and has over 53 million user reviews. Judging by the curve of the graph below, this doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon…

The future of search is moving towards mobile screens and social networks. Just recently, a global survey reported that smartphones have surpassed tv’s in the amount of user viewing time per day. With this in mind, a well done Yelp page could improve your online marketing by leaps and bounds with very little time/money invested.

Creating A Yelp Business Page

An obvious first step to optimizing your Yelp page is to create one if you haven’t done so already.

To get started, go to the Yelp for Business Owners page and click “claim my business.” You will then be redirected to a page that asks you to find your business.

You will then have one of three cases occur…

  1. No Business Listed: Your business hasn’t been listed on the site, click “Add your business to Yelp” on the bottom of the page.
  2. Already Unlocked: If your business is already unlocked that means someone else has already claimed your business. Yelp has a review process, so it is unlikely that it was unlocked by someone outside your organization.
  3. Unlock Your Business: You can unlock your Yelp business page by clicking the “unlock” button and filling in the required information.

With your Yelp business page now created, the next step is to fill your business profile with useful and SEO friendly information.

Optimizing Your Yelp Business Page

Yelp will essentially guide you through this process once you have created a business page. They even have a friendly alert to remind you, in case you forget.

Do you want to lose out on potential business? Not many people do, so make sure your Yelp Business page has all of these things complete:

  • Business Information: Yelp allows you to write 3000 words about your business’s specialties, history, and owners. You can use this space to tell your business’s story with your most valuable keywords in mind.
  • Business address: Make sure it matches your location on Google Maps and your website.
  • Business phone number
  • Price range for your products/services
  • Business category
  • Photos of your business and staff

Quality Photos On Yelp Make A Huge Difference

According to Yelp, people stay two and a half times longer on a business page when it has photos. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but having high quality photos should be a priority.

With all of your business page information now complete, the next step is to promote engagement on your site to get more customer reviews.

Social Proofing Works

People trust Yelp because of the millions of customer reviews. There are many ways that you can promote these positive reviews reaching your business page, but be sure to never offer incentives. Yelp has a filter to block fake reviews and they can even penalize your listing for foul play. The best way to garner positive reviews is with the old fashioned way, excellent customer service, and a few of these tips.

  1. Have a Yelp Link on your website: The more exposure your Yelp business page gets the higher chance you will receive customer reviews.
  2. Including a Yelp Link in your email signature: For the same reason explained above.
  3. Reach out to existing customers: Ask your loyal customers if they would mind writing a review.
  4. Promoting deals on Yelp : Deals are a great way to grab attention and satisfy customers.

With the nature of business, sometimes you will receive negative reviews from a customer you weren’t able to satisfy. The best way to deal with these situations is to respond in a positive way.

Responding To Reviews

There are two ways to respond to user reviews on Yelp. The first way is to send a private message. This is much like sending the customer a direct email. The second method, is to post a public message below the consumer’s review for everyone to see.

The key to responding to negative reviews is to keep the BIG picture in mind. Don’t get defensive. Consumers are smart and know that an isolated bad review doesn’t mean much. A good way to respond to negative reviews is to acknowledge that you are concerned about the customers experience and then state your business’ policy on the discrepancy.

A Yelp Optimization Overview

Does your page have quality photos and a keyword rich summary of your business? Optimizing your Yelp business page Is about filing your page with useful information. It can be done in one sitting, but the key for a successful business page is responding to reviews to further engage with customers.

Keep the big picture in mind when responding to reviews, and continuously look for new ways to drive potential customers to your site. If you do all these things, while showcasing the personality behind your brand, you will be positioning your company for delicious online marketing success.

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