by Rob Zaleski
As more and more people use mobile devices to share their thoughts in the moment, local businesses should be monitoring social media for opportunities to connect with people who mention them. What is the easiest way to create real connections with these savvy social media users?
Show some gratitude.
It’s something that goes a long way, yet people so often forget to offer it online. Want to make your local business stand out from the crowd? Simply show your customers how much you appreciate them taking the time to mention you, and you’re one step ahead in the game. The best part is that it can also inspire further action and conversation, strengthening the relationship with that customer:
It’s entirely possible that Jason’s check-in could have been the end of his interaction with Fatty’s Burgers—but because they have our HubThanks technology working for them, it was only the beginning! Notice how we thanked him for checking in and sincerely asked about his visit? It’s genuine, interested, and most importantly, not solicitous or pushy.
There are two ways you can watch for opportunities like this on Twitter. Keep an eye on your mentions (by clicking the ‘@ Connect’ button in the top bar of your Twitter page). Any time someone sends a tweet that includes your Twitter handle, the tweet will show up here. You can also use Twitter’s search bar at the top of the page to search for your business’s name. You may be surprised how many mentions your business gets that you were never aware of! (Don’t forget to check common misspellings of your business’s name, too.)
Now back to Jason. After the friendly outreach, he provided a mini review right on Twitter, and was inspired to fully articulate his thoughts with a Yelp review. The full account of his visit wasn’t just any review, either. It was a glowing 5-star review!
As a business owner, you’d thank customers for coming by to visit in person without expecting much in return, wouldn’t you? This same small customer service step online can pay off immensely. Sounds like it’s time to put your ‘thanking cap’ on and make sure your customers know they’re appreciated, wouldn’t you say?
For another way you can use Twitter to increase business, check out Driving Social Media ROI All The Way Home.
Looking for other ways you can be doing social media right? Download our Social Media 101 ebook below!
by Rob Zaleski
Many healthcare professionals are having a tough time participating in social media. As a matter of fact, in a recent poll reported by Allied Health World, only 14% of doctors surveyed were active on social media daily. This leaves a massive gap of opportunity for healthcare professionals like you to be truly connecting with people online. Not only will this help retain current patients, but by exceeding the expectations, you’ll be standing out to potential patients looking for the services you offer. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider.
People are already taking to the web for healthcare information
Would you rather your current and potential patients be searching random web forums, or seeking your trusted advice? According to MediaBistro, more than 40% of consumers head online to look for information surrounding their health. Just about that same percent state that social media would affect their choice in a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
Turning yourself into a trusted and available source for information not only increases your reliability in the eyes of these online consumers, but also keeps you top of mind when people really need you. Want to stand out? It’s time to get yourself on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook allows you to post information your patients will find useful or interesting: articles that provide insight (perhaps with your own commentary added when you share), tidbits of trustworthy health information or how-tos, photos from around your office, etc. This can start conversations and help to spread word of mouth about your practice.
Twitter is a real-time social media site that lets you communicate online in 140 characters or less. It’s great for sharing quick tips or links to stories and articles. Because it runs in real-time, you can connect with people in their actual time of need. It’s also possible to have conversations with online users who you might not normally have reached thanks to the public search function that Twitter provides.
Post content like that mentioned above a few times per week, and don’t be afraid to show a little personality, too. That’s where the real connection comes from online. A major aspect of healthcare is building trust, and you can start earning it before a patient even walks in the building by establishing a professional but friendly presence online.
Your patients’ privacy is still important
Being there for patients with quick tips, useful information, and trustworthy resources can help you further develop your relationship with current patients, and show potential ones that you’re knowledgeable and available.
If your patients have very specific questions though, you can always ask them to contact you directly via email or phone to take the conversation offline. That way, you still maintain the conversation between the two of you.
You know what kind of information is and isn’t sensitive, so be sure to lay out guidelines for your staff when it comes to social media. If you’re clear about what’s acceptable to share, you’ll be able to start and participate in great conversations online with current and potential patients without worry.
Your reviews matter. A lot.
Whether you agree with review sites or not, potential patients are heading to pages like Yelp and Google+ to figure out where to go when they need your services. Did you know that a staggering 90% of respondents age 18-24 said they trust medical information shared by others in their social networks? That means if someone leaves a poor review (which over 40% of those in a 2012 PwC HRI Social Media Consumer survey say they’d share online), it’s going to strongly affect their friends’ likelihood to choose you.
Take the opportunity to respond to and address negative feedback, as well as thank the person for providing it. Not only can this completely turn a situation around, but it shows potential patients that you’re listening to and addressing feedback. People take note of that, and a genuine response can even diminish the negativity of the review in the eyes of the reader.
Conversely, consider the effect that a positive review or social media post can have. Given that 44% of people state that they’d be willing to share information online about a positive personal experience at a hospital or medical facility, taking the time to thank them for sharing it can turn them into loyal and continuing advocates. When their friends ask for a recommendation, who do you think will be top of mind? Now that’s making online word of mouth work for you.
People are discussing just about every aspect of their life online. When it comes to their health, they’re looking for answers. Be the one to provide those answers, and you could gain patients for life, and peace of mind that they found the trustworthy information you can offer as a healthcare professional.
Need help getting in on the conversation? Our Social Media 101 ebook will provide you with some of the information you need to get started.
by Rob Zaleski
‘Tis the season for using social media to direct holiday shoppers to your local business. We want to help you do just that.
In this post, every day from December 1st until December 20th, we’ll add a new tip to help you make the most of your social media pages during this most festive month.
Could you use some help making these happen, so your local business’s holiday season is cheery and bright? That’s what we’re here for! Sign up for a free social media assessment to find out what you can be doing better to bring in new customers with your social media presence.
by Rob Zaleski
Yelp has become a primary destination for consumers looking for a recommendation on places to go, whether in their hometown or while traveling. More than 47 million reviews have been submitted to Yelp for every type of business imaginable: auto shops, restaurants, retail stores, salons, spas, pet stores, you name it. These reviews, and the star ratings that accompany them, can make a major difference in whether someone chooses one business or another. Last year’s integration into Apple’s iPhone and Maps made the reviews platform even more important to business owners, and convenient to consumers on the go.
In a blog post Wednesday, Vince Sollitto, the VP of Communications and Public Affairs for Yelp, offered some insight into how their system works to provide the most reliable information to consumers.
A few points of note from the article:
It’s great to see Yelp work to break things down for people and make their system easier to understand. Good reviews or poor reviews, Yelp wants you to know they’re doing all they can to make sure you’re getting legitimate feedback.
Want a few tips on making the most of your Yelp presence when people visit your business’s page?
It can be a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. If you need help bringing it all together, we’re only a phone call away: (866) 252-5029
by Rob Zaleski
As a local business, you always want to have the upper hand on your competition. It takes time, however, and that’s something you have in short supply. Luckily, a recent addition to Facebook can help streamline this process.
If you haven’t already, follow Facebook’s prompt to upgrade to the New Insights. This provides you with loads of useful information about your fans, your posts, and your page. You’ll have graphs available to you, and you can even export information if you’re the data-driven type. Once you’ve upgraded, you may notice this little box in the Admin Panel of your page:
This nifty little box allows you to add up to 5 Facebook pages you want to keep tabs on, whether that’s competitors, pages you aspire to, or simply other local businesses in your area. Facebook will even recommend some that you may want to add, as well.
Once you’ve added pages, they’ll be listed in order of page ‘Likes’, yours included. It will show a green upward arrow or a red downward arrow, with the number of new ‘Likes’ or “Unlikes’. See the number jump up for another page? Maybe it’s time to see what they’re up to. Notice quite a bit of red for a page? Take whatever they’re doing as an example of what not to do.
A piece of advice: keep the scale realistic. If your page has 500 fans, comparing yourself to a page that has 10,000 can be a bit unrealistic. If you’re simply using this for inspiration, great, but avoid beating yourself up because a big brand picked up 1,000 new ‘Likes’ this week. That’s counterproductive.
The list is hyperlinked to each page, so you can quickly hop over to see what they’re up to without having to search for them. You can change the pages listed any time. Try it for yourself, and see what you can learn from it. For an easy way to use Facebook to find out more about your fans, click here.
How have you typically been keeping tabs on your competition? Any unique recommendations to add? Or are you using other social media sites in clever ways to monitor local competition? Share in the comments section below!
Want to learn more about what you can do to improve your local business’s social media presence? We’ll provide a free assessment for you, complete with recommendations:
by Rob Zaleski
One of the biggest concerns businesses face when it comes to social media is proving the ROI in taking the time to do it right. Those who deem social media as no more than a customer service channel simply don’t see where the dollars will come back in the door. Here at Main Street Hub, that’s a problem our clients don’t have.
Twitter offers a unique opportunity to start real-time conversations in your local area. These conversations have a high likelihood to show return on investment (ROI) because you can find a potential customer right at their time of need, especially when utilizing our HubTargeter technology. There are few better examples of the success you can find in Twitter outreach than the one below.
A friendly outreach, simply to start a conversation, turned into big win for Ancira Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. Without even responding, Denyse and her father visited that very same day. Not only did they visit, they found the perfect car for her, thanks to the friendly and knowledgeable staff at the dealership. Ancira’s main goal with Main Street Hub was to get the word out about their dealership. We’re making social media work for them.
Now let’s make it work for you:
by Rob Zaleski
It’s almost impossible not to feel inspired by the classic song from power-ballad band Journey. When it comes to social media though, there are a few things you do have to stop believing for your local business.
1. “My customers aren’t on social media.” According to Social Bakers, the number of questions asked on brand pages on Facebook alone has increased by 85% over the last year. 60% of people on Twitter follow a brand to get customer service support. Not only are your customers on social media, they’re on it to connect with you at times when they need your input most, rather than using traditional channels to reach out. 58% of those people expect a response from a business within no more than a few days. The rest expect it within the hour.
The latest Pew Research states that 74% of all adults 18 and older are online. [Tweet this stat!] The chances are very high that your customers fall into that category (even senior-age customers, who now rate higher than 50% using internet and email). There’s no doubt that you love connecting with your customers, and social media is the increasingly more popular way to do it, no matter who they are.
2. “I don’t have the time or money to put into social media.” Digital communication should be thought of as an extension of your storefront. Imagine an entire section of your business’s physical location where current and potential customers are standing around. Now imagine that no one on your staff is paying any attention to them. You’d never allow that to happen, right? Well, that’s exactly what is happening if you aren’t giving people your attention online. Now, we understand that you’re extremely busy as a business owner. That’s why Main Street Hub offers a “do-it-for-you” approach, so you can work on keeping your customers happy in person. Investing in your digital presence can also pay off in real ROI when you start to see new customers from engaging in the online conversation. As a matter of fact, 2/3 of businesses who are engaged online have seen new customers from social media!
3. “Social media isn’t right for my business.” While there may be a few instances where this holds true, for the vast majority of businesses, a strong digital presence will only help your brand. In a recent survey, 83.45% of businesses said they get their traffic from word of mouth. [Tweet this stat!] Word of mouth is online now because the people spreading it are online. Even before buying items at a brick and mortar location, people are doing the vast majority of their research online. If you’re not part of the conversation, encouraging people to choose you, one of your competitors may very well get those potential customers. Not every single social network that pops up may be right for your business, but having some established presence is just about mandatory for almost every business.
You can get involved, and we can help.
We’re busting myths for small business owners here at Main Street Hub. Check out 5 other Myths About Social Media by downloading our free ebook.
What are some of the hurdles you see in engaging online? If you’re already active, have you seen new customers from social media? Share some of your struggles or successes with us in the comments below!
by Rob Zaleski
Google+ has taken the number two spot among social networks for monthly active users, but Facebook doesn’t plan to give up the top spot without a fight. One way they seem to be planning this is to continue encroaching on some of the things Google already does best. One of those has been search, an area that Facebook has been consistently ramping up with Graph Search.) On a quieter note, Facebook reviews have taken a more and more prominent place on Facebook, with the recent addition of a ‘Review’ button right next to the ‘Like’ button on places pages.
The ability to review a business on Facebook isn’t new, but this prominence of the ‘Review’ button definitely indicates Facebook’s attempt to call more attention to the feature. Users can rate your business 1-5 stars, add their own commentary, and their review will show up just under the “Recent Posts by Others” section on your page. As of yet, we haven’t seen a quantitative star-rating showing up on the page, but they are shown when your page appears in search results on Facebook.
Facebook does not provide business owners the opportunity to respond to reviews just yet. We hope to see this functionality become available, as this is a customer service opportunity that businesses should not be prevented from addressing. Facebook also doesn’t provide any notification when a new review is posted, as it does for comments and posts to the page. You’ll likely just happen to notice them if you’re on your page.
With the increased focus on reviews by Facebook, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to consider having separate Facebook pages for businesses that have multiple locations. Like Yelp, Google+ Local, and TripAdvisor, the reviews posted should reflect the experience of visiting that specific location. It also will help you pinpoint opportunities to improve should your customers post poor reviews, especially since you can’t respond asking them more about their experience.
Have you already seen many reviews showing up on your Facebook page? What do you think of this addition to the Facebook platform? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
by Rob Zaleski
Update on this feature! It seems Twitter has removed the option for accounts to receive DMs from those who don’t follow each other after only a month.
Twitter has become one of the primary platforms for customers to effectively air their grievances or share their positive experiences with businesses. The easily sharable nature of Twitter has always allowed for this word of mouth to spread quickly. Twitter’s latest announcement is a potentially huge win for businesses using Twitter for customer service.
Why this is great:
By allowing the option to receive Direct Messages (DMs) from users you don’t already follow with your account, your business can allow people to easily contact you privately to resolve an issue. Rather than a public display of their concerns, which can be quickly shared and spread like wildfire, customers can reach out to you in 160 characters, out of view of everyone else. This provides you the opportunity to effectively solve their problem or address their grievances without the public eye watching over your every move.
How to set it up:
All you have to do is click the little gear icon at the top of your Twitter page. Select Settings, and scroll down to where you see Messages. Check the box to allow DMs from people you don’t follow, as you can see below.
A word of caution:
Just because these messages aren’t public, doesn’t mean you can hold out on responding to them. You need to address them with the same urgency you would with a public tweet, otherwise it could end becoming just that! Remember, 66% of people expect a response from a business they contact on social media within that same day. You need to make sure you’re keeping up with those expectations. Otherwise, you could end up with unhappy people on Twitter, who may then take their feedback to other outlets, like Yelp. Here’s how NOT to handle those reviews, should they come up.
Do you typically use Twitter for customer service? Will providing this private outlet encourage more people to DM businesses instead of publicly contacting them? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
by Rob Zaleski
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land tweeted an observation Monday that begs the question: Why don’t business owners respond to their Google+ reviews? From our experience working with thousands of local business owners, we’ve found the reasons to be some of what Danny listed, but also more.
From our many conversations with local business owners, we’ve found that a failure to respond to reviews is rarely a function of not caring about customers. More often than not, it’s simply a matter of awareness and limited resources that keeps them from doing it. Ultimately, the solution that works best for local business marketing is a combination of technology and hands on service. Without both, little will change with respect to responding to reviews and leveraging other new marketing and customer service opportunities.
What do you think? Have you ever written a review and received a response from a business owner? If you’re a business owner, do you find it difficult to manage your reviews? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.