Which Social Media Should I Put My Efforts into for My Business?

Due to issues with privacy and security, Google+ is shutting down in April of 2019.

On November 6, 2018, Google+ users were faced with the exposure of their private profile content. Alphabet Inc, Google’s mother company, revealed that a bug allowed 52 million users’ private information to be compromised and given to outside app developers without the users’ consent.

“Protecting the privacy and security of our users has long been an essential part of our mission,” says Google, Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai. Yet, in October of 2018, there was a similar breach of privacy which also provided outside app developers with Google+ users’ private information, including full names, email addresses, genders, birthdays, photos, places lived, relationship statuses, and occupations. It was after this glitch that Google initially announced the demise of Google+, which was to be terminated in August of 2019. Considering the second privacy violation, the date of termination was moved up four months to April 2019.

So, with all these major changes from Google, which platform(s) are most practical and provide the most security for your company?

Google My Business (GMB) is presumed to be the platform of choice for business owners. GMB is a free tool for businesses to supervise their online presence throughout Google, including Google Search and Google Maps. This platform allows customers to find your business’ location as well as inform them about your business, its hours, and contact information.

Within your GMB account, there is a section called Insights which offers new analytic features. Among these are queries used to find your business, customer actions like visiting your website, making phone calls, and direction requests. The platform also allows business owners to place ads, write posts, upload pictures, and update company information. Another aspect beneficial to business owners is that GMB allows for customers to leave a review of the company and compiles them in an easy-to-read list. These reviews can be responded to by the business owners.

Other Social Media You Should Use for Your Business

Social media is the basis of which most customers are going to learn more about your business. Many companies use various social media platforms to not only connect with their customers but to gain visibility throughout the internet as well. It is most beneficial to your company if you utilize multiple social media outlets to market your business. But which ones are worth it?

LinkedIn is the most professional social media platform and allows businesses to network with other people or companies and draw potential customers or clients to your business. On your company profile, you can share any awards bestowed, your accomplishments, and post in detail about current and past projects. In addition to these features, you can post and share articles, videos, and photos on your newsfeed with your network of connections and followers. You can even develop your own articles using LinkedIn Publishing. Another great aspect of LinkedIn that is ideal for business owners is the ability to list job openings and review applications from potential employees. LinkedIn is a one-stop-shop for all your social media, marketing, and business development needs.

Facebook has specific pages and profiles for companies and business professionals. These provide the business with analytics, ad opportunities, and the ability to post events and updates along with photos and videos. Keeping your clients and customers up to date on all that’s happening with your business has never been easier or more condensed into one outlet. Facebook Messenger also provides more interaction with customers. Messenger allows customers to directly message a business and discuss any questions or concerns they may have.

Instagram is perfect for sharing photos and videos from company events and posting promotional graphics to market your products or services. There is a business profile option which will allow you to connect your email address, phone number and website at the top of your Instagram page. Interaction with customers and clients is extremely simple with Instagram’s comments which, depending on your privacy settings, give anyone the ability to write a comment on a post.

Twitter is another great social media platform for businesses to post last minute updates to their followers about promotions, events, or cancelations due to weather. In addition to these updates, Twitter is also a great source to repost from Facebook and Instagram.

Not sure which social media platform is best for your business? Focus on what your company is providing to the public. If you have a lot of photographs to share with your customers, Instagram is a great option to allow your pictures to highlight your business. If your business hosts a lot of events, consider utilizing Facebook to create ads and invite customers to these events. Additionally, Twitter is great for making quick updates to schedules and keeping in contact with clients. If you still aren’t positive about what platform to use, start with one you are personally using. This way, you already have some experience with the platform and can utilize your prior knowledge to increase your business’ exposure.

You may find that you want to have presence on more than one social media network. Being present in multiple areas will increase your company’s visibility and help you reach more potential customers.

Managing Multiple Social Media Accounts

It may seem as if managing multiple social media accounts can become overwhelming. However, there is no need to fret. There are terrific software programs that help consolidate all your social media accounts in one space. Among these are Hootsuite and Buffer.

Hootsuite integrates multiple types of social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter into one interface. Other sites such as YouTube, LinkedIn, and WordPress blogs can be incorporated. If you have multiple businesses or organizations you manage, you may add these organizations along with all their respective social media accounts. Buffer is very similar. You can include multiple organizations as well, and each may have multiple social media accounts. Among those covered are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

These integrations are wonderful because they provide you with the ability to create a singular post and share it on all your social media platforms with just a few clicks. You can also schedule your posts to go out at a later date or time, even months in advance! Both Hootsuite and Buffer provide analytics and the ability to respond to all your comments within the same window.

When it comes to choosing which social media management software is best for your business, it is best to research each software to find one that fits your needs and budget. For further information please contact us at 1-855-PRMG-123 or email us at info@theprmg.com.

Client Breakdown: The Types of Clients We Serve

The Public Relations and Marketing Group (PRMG) is a full-service public relations and marketing firm based in New York. Our company was founded in 2002 by John C. Zaher, who at that point, already had over 10 years of experience in the PR and marketing fields. Fully equipped with an expert staff, PRMG has the tools to successfully meet our clients’ needs.

PRMG provides a full evaluation of your current marketing strategies and develops a customized plan that matches your needs, budget, and target audiences. So, who are the types of clients we serve?

Our Clients

We service professionals, corporations, non-profit organizations and government entities, as well as tourism and entertainment clients. Some of our clients include Gershow Recycling, the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc., The Long Island Game Farm, Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen, the Village of Islandia, and McPeak’s Assisted Living, just to name a few. Along with these clients, our subsidiary company, PR4Laywers, services law firms such as Tully Law, P.C., Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP, Mart Grossbach P.C., amongst others.

Additionally, we work with public sector entities such as town villages, school and library districts, as well as fire districts. One of the great aspects of PRMG is that while we also have multiple clients in the tri-state area, many of our clients are located in Long Island. This allows us to understand the typical Long Island customer from multiple areas of concentration and local demographics.

Our Services

We work with clients on specific projects such as branding, TV and video production, web development, advertising, and more. However, we also work with clients on retainer to continue meeting their social media management, website hosting, SEO, public relations, newsletter, and direct mail needs, among others.

Here’s what some of our clients have said about the quality of our services:

“PRMG has an excellent handle on all marketing aspects for our non-profit organization. From garnering continued media coverage of our top-tier robotics events, to growing our social media presence, PRMG helps us reach the audiences we need to expand our presence across Long Island.” – Bertram Dittmar, executive director of School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc.

“John is excellent at implementation and execution of marketing plans and ideas. PRMG is ‘quick on the draw’ when timing is of the essence. John’s long-term approach is what separates him and his company from other agencies.” – James P. McPeak, Owner, McPeak’s Assisted Living

“John is an experienced manager and result oriented. His vision and ideas are right on target and his results prove that. His attention to detail and his knowledge of business do help in reaching his goals.” – Allan Dorman, Mayor of Village of Islandia

How can we help your business grow? Visit our website or contact us at 631-207-2057 or send an email to johnzaher@theprmg.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Instagram’s New Logo Shows Importance of Social Media Branding

A sample of Instagram's new look

(image from Instagram’s blog)

In our evolving digital age, organizations must recognize the importance of online presence in marketing and reputation management. Even a seemingly simple branding change can have a significant impact on the public’s opinion of a product. Take a trending topic from two weeks ago, for instance: Instagram, one of the world’s most popular social media/photo-sharing platforms, generated a firestorm of criticism for its recently-redesigned logo. The new image inspired snide memes, critical tweets and New York Times coverage headlined “The Great Instagram Logo Freakout of 2016.” While such a strong reaction to something as simple as a logo change may seem incredible, the story goes to show that social media users care deeply about the platforms they use. In this case, a simple marketing choice had a major effect on popular opinions of Instagram.

More importantly, however, this month’s Instagram drama is a reminder of just how big a part social media platforms play in today’s digitally-connected environment. Since its launch in October 2010, Instagram has grown from a simple photo-sharing service with one million users into a global platform on which more than 80 million photos and videos are shared every day. Today it’s one of the most popular websites in the world.

Like many other popular networking platforms, Instagram has expanded from a purely personal network to an important presence for businesses and organizations. According to one report, almost 40% of marketers used Instagram to promote their products in 2015. But it isn’t just the number of Instagram users that stands out, it’s also the level of interactivity the platform allows between businesses and their target audiences. Social media sites like Instagram allow customers to invite their favorite corporations and causes into the stream of their everyday lives. Organizations need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by these platforms to interact with their target audiences frequently and consistently.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) can help your organization successfully navigate today’s complex media environment. As a full-service public relations, marketing and digital advertising agency, we have extensive experience in increasing individuals’ and corporations’ visibility across all major social media platforms. If you have any questions about our social media or other marketing services, please contact us at (631) 207-1057 or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.

5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media

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Growing your presence on social media can be tricky, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some tips on how you can make minimal changes to your social media platform, and quickly receive an increased number of followers. Continue reading “5 Quick Tips to Grow Your Followers on Social Media”

Top Five LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

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LinkedIn is the world’s largest business-oriented service and allows users to network and keep in touch with business contacts and potential clients. When used properly, LinkedIn can help members build stronger personal relationships to facilitate more direct contact and business opportunities. This article will explain several common mistakes that can impact the effectiveness of your LinkedIn marketing strategy. Those who are new to LinkedIn can first read our article, “Making the Right Connections with LinkedIn.”

  1. Having an Incomplete Profile — Having a LinkedIn profile that is 100 percent complete with an accurate description of your professional experience, skills and qualifications will help to optimize your LinkedIn profile and establish your professional identity online. In today’s technological world, a LinkedIn profile is becoming the new resume. To complete your profile, add a photo, list your professional work experience with accurate dates and responsibilities, include skills and expertise keywords in each section and request professional recommendations from your connections.
  1. Not Participating in LinkedIn Groups — There are no benefits to joining dozens of groups on LinkedIn and then not participating in group discussions. LinkedIn Groups are powerful online networking tools for business professionals. We recommend searching for groups that are related to your industry or groups that your potential customers and clients are likely to be active in. Once you’ve requested to join, start participating in discussions and sharing your professional expertise. Users can also participate in the LinkedIn Answers section, when appropriate. By answering other users’ questions in this section, you can boost your authority, online reputation and exposure.
  1. Not Requesting or Giving Recommendations — To build authority on your profile, always request professional recommendations from your contacts and return the favor. These can greatly enhance your profile by giving potential clients and business contacts a clear indication of the quality of your company’s work.
  1. Not Having a Custom URL — One of the most overlooked yet valuable features of LinkedIn is that users can create a customized URL for their profile in place of the default URL. By creating a customized URL with either your full name or your business’ name, prospective clients or customers will have a better chance of finding and recognizing your account. To customize your URL on LinkedIn, click here and then “Customize Your Public Profile URL.”
  1. Requesting to Connect with People You Don’t Know — We don’t recommend sending emails to users who you have never met or spoken to. In some cases, this can get you banned from LinkedIn if enough people report “I don’t know this person.” If you want to connect with someone who you don’t know personally, see if there are any shared connections who may be able to introduce you. You can also develop relationships with users through the LinkedIn Groups’ discussion boards and then send an invitation to connect once you are comfortable enough to do so.

Most of all, it’s important to stay as active as possible on LinkedIn. At a minimum, users should make sure that their profile is 100% complete and use about a half hour per week to browse through LinkedIn Groups and join in the conversation. By consistently updating your LinkedIn profile, maintaining your company page and participating in group discussions, you’ll find that this social networking site is essential when it comes to online marketing, especially for B2B professionals.

For more information about how to avoid LinkedIn mistakes, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Social Media Publishing 101

Social Media Publishing

An Overview of HootSuite, Tweetdeck and Social Oomph

Social publishing programs are essential for managing a business’ social media presence, especially for those who maintain multiple accounts. The primary function of these programs is to allow users to organize and schedule posts in advance on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. By using these programs to schedule posts and space out your content, businesses can ensure that they have a consistent presence on social media. This article will provide an overview of the three major social media publishing platforms: HootSuite,TweetDeck and Social Oomph.

While all of these programs are free to join, provide helpful URL shorteners and allow for multiple social networking accounts, each of the three has certain benefits, disadvantages and unique capabilities. Depending on your organization and personal preferences, one of these platforms may be better suited for your needs than the others.

HootSuite

HootSuite, which many consider to be the leading social media dashboard, allows users to manage multiple networks, schedule updates and create custom analytics reports to monitor your success. Using HootSuite’s unique social networking dashboard, users can connect multiple social networks, such as TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and WordPress, in one place.

  • Advantages — HootSuite’s greatest strength is that it provides users with excellent custom analytics reports to share with clients or colleagues. Through these reports, users can track brand sentiment, follower growth and also incorporate Facebook Insights and Google Analytics right in their dashboard. Also, while Google+ is currently unavailable on these publishing tools, HootSuite will be given first access to Google+ business and brand pages. This is so important because, when this update is unveiled, users can update all of their social media pages, including Google+, in one place. Also, like Social Oomph, HootSuite users can schedule messages in bulk to save time by uploading a CSV file. HootSuite also has a mobile app so users can access their dashboard for free on iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys or Android mobile devices.
  • Disadvantages — The most notable disadvantage of HootSuite is that the free version only allows users to manage up to five accounts and there is a limit of 10 columns on your dashboard. This can be a major setback, especially for users who need to maintain multiple accounts on each social networking platform. To avoid this problem, users can upgrade to the premium version for $5 per month.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck also allows users to manage multiple social media accounts, schedule posts and organize social networking feeds. This real-time browser can connect you with contacts and information across TwitterFacebookLinkedInMySpaceFourSquare and more.

  • Advantages — One advantage is that all of the features on TweetDeck are free – there is no premium, paid membership like HootSuite and Social Oomph require for certain features. With a free membership, TweetDeck users can manage and post to an unlimited number of social media accounts, unlike HootSuite, where basic users are limited to only five. Also, many users agree that TweetDeck’s dashboard is the cleanest and most user-friendly of the three, although this depends on personal preference.
  • Disadvantages — On May 25, 2011, TweetDeck was bought by Twitter and since this acquisition, many users have complained about missing features, bugs and certain tools not working properly. Apart from these technical problems, there are two major setbacks with TweetDeck. Unlike HootSuite and Social Oomph, there are no analytics reports or bulk scheduling capabilities available. This is a huge disadvantage, especially for businesses, since they cannot monitor the effectiveness of their social media marketing strategies.

Social Oomph

Social Oomph performs the same functions as the previous two programs but unlike HootSuite or TweetDeck, users have the ability to “Auto-Follow” and “Auto-Direct Message” users. Depending on one’s personal preference, this feature could either be seen as an advantage or disadvantage, as further discussed below.

  • Advantages — The benefit of using Social Oomph is that this service has the most detailed and informative analytics reports, especially for those who are managing several social media accounts. Like HootSuite, you can also schedule posts in bulk but only Social Oomph makes this process simpler by allowing users to upload posts from a Word document. Social Oomph’s “Replies Digest” is another unique and useful feature, especially for businesses. This tool will send you a daily email with any @Mentions of Re-tweets your business has received. This email is extremely helpful for businesses to easily monitor interactions on Twitter and respond accordingly.
  • Disadvantages — Unlike TweetDeck and HootSuite, there is currently no smart phone app available for Social Oomph. As mentioned previously, Social Oomph is the only service that allows users to set up “Auto-Follows,” “Auto-Direct Messages” and “Auto-Responders,” but this tool is only unlocked when users upgrade to premium accounts. There is a biweekly cost of $3.97 for Social Oomph Premium. “Auto-follow” refers to being able to follow someone on Twitter automatically if they have followed you. “Auto-Direct Messages” and “Auto-Responding” refer to sending Twitter users automatic, prewritten responses. While some users may see this as an advantage, since this practice is only available on Social Oomph, it has its flaws and most social media users look down on auto-responses. It’s far more powerful to interact with users on a more personal level rather than just send them computer-generated responses.

For more information about social media publishing, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

What Businesses Should Know About Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline

Facebook has rolled out significant changes and improvements to how users view and interact with businesses with the new Facebook Timeline. With Facebook Timeline, Facebook pages have an entirely new design and businesses can enjoy more control over what content is front and center, and what content is hidden on their page. In this article, you’ll find an overview of brand new Timeline features such as the cover photo, apps, direct messaging, the activity log and more.

Choose a Cover — The most visible change in Facebook Timeline is the cover photo. The Timeline cover displays an 851×315-pixel banner across the top of the fan page, making multimedia a stronger element than ever before. Since the cover image is very large, it’s essential to choose a cover photo that is eye-catching and reflective of your organization. For example, a restaurant may want to display a popular menu item while a retail store may feature a popular product. It’s important to keep in mind that covers are not permitted to display any calls to action, references to pricing, contact information, a Web address or text such as “like this page” or “visit our website.” It’s essential to focus on the image and choose a photo that entices users to scroll down to learn more about your business. For details about cover photo guidelines and restrictions, please click here.

Complete Your About Section — Directly under your cover photo, two key metrics will be visible: your number of likes and the number of “people talking about this.” Under these metrics, you’ll find your About section. This section is where you can include a brief description of your business and contact information. To the right, you’ll see photos, pages that you have liked and any custom landing tabs. As the following paragraph will explain, any custom landing tabs that you have previously installed will be completely reformatted. Facebook has removed the ability to set one of these tabs up as the default image when a user arrives at your page.

Apps — Perhaps the biggest change to this new format is that default landing tabs, or customized tabs that non-fans would see first instead of the wall, are no longer allowed. With Timeline, users will always see the main page first and they will have to click through to view custom apps. In this section, you can add your custom pages, contests, promotions, coupons or media. However, these will not get the same amount of exposure as they did on traditional Facebook pages. Since these tabs will no longer be the first thing users see when they visit your page, they may not be as powerful or engaging.

Direct Messages with Fans — This new feature is a huge advantage for businesses. For the first time, Facebook users can send private messages to the owner, or Admins, of a business page. With the old layout, the only way fans could communicate with business pages was publicly, through the page’s wall. By making it possible to communicate with business owners through private messages, businesses can handle any complaints or personal matters out of the public eye, making this a better experience for both parties.

Share, Star and Hide Stories — One of the major features of Timeline is that businesses have more power than ever to share, “star” and hide stories surrounding their fan page. For example, by “starring” posts, you can choose which updates you want to drive the most traffic to and highlight historical or successful posts by you and your fans. On the other hand, you can hide or delete posts that are embarrassing, out of date or negative. Users can monitor all of these updates in Timeline’s new activity log.

Activity Log — Your activity log will be an organized list of your posts and activity, from the current date back to the very beginning of your page’s history. Through your activity log, you can control what information goes on your Timeline and what information you’d prefer to hide. You can also mark certain posts as spam and hide posts from appearing on your Timeline, but that you’d still like to store in your activity log. For more information about the features of Timeline’s activity log, click here.

How Should I Begin — To switch to Facebook Timeline, visit the Timeline for Pages preview manager, where you can walk yourself through the features discussed in this article. When you’re comfortable with how Timeline works, click the “Publish Now” button at the top of your page to show your new design to the public. If you prefer to wait until March 30th, Timeline will automatically become publicly visible and you will have to adjust your page at this time.

To find out more about Facebook Timeline, visit Facebook’s Timeline: A New Kind of Profile.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Is Traditional Networking a Waste of Time in 2012?

With the value of social media networking and other Web tools, businesses should develop a multifaceted strategy that places greater emphasis on online networking and business development over traditional in-person networking and trade shows.

Networking

Building and nourishing relationships with clients, customers and professionals is an essential component of promoting your business. While traditional networking events such as trade shows and other social events have long been a staple of the business world, I have become increasingly skeptical of their long-term effectiveness. I’ve found that these networking methods are costly, time-consuming and rarely offer any substantial results. As social networking sites secure a stronger influence on people’s day-to-day lives, I’ve found that my time is often better spent using online communication outlets. Web networking is cost-effective and doesn’t require any travel or huge time commitments. By first taking advantage of online networking techniques, and supplementing this effort with traditional networking, your business can strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. This article will explain the problem with traditional networking, why social media and Web-based networking provides a solution, how to make the most of in-person networking, which events to attend and which you should avoid and five ways you can network and develop your business without leaving your desk.

The Problem with Traditional Networking — I often feel guilty for not attending as many business networking events as I think I should. Then again, when I do attend a business trade show or a general networking event, I often come back to the office and say that it was a complete waste of time. Most of these events are filled with salespeople and barely any real decision makers. Between travel time and attendance fees, I’ve found that traditional networking events are also costly and extremely time-consuming. These events take a lot of valuable time away from being at the office and getting other things done, including marketing. I usually come back from these events bombarded with business cards, without any genuine connections or prospects. It’s really not surprising that most business cards handed out at networking events either end up gathering dust in the office or at the bottom of the trash can. So what’s the solution? In 2012, my goal is to focus 90% of my networking efforts on social media and Web-based networking.

The Alternative: Social Media and Web-based Networking — Especially for professionals who have a limited amount of time on their hands for networking, using social media sites such as LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Google+ can be convenient, less time-consuming and effective. For those predominantly in B2B fields, I recommend focusing onLinkedIn because this site places an emphasis on networking with other business professionals. Through social media, you can engage in quick and frequent conversations with your audience. You can also get introduced to people who you otherwise would have never had access to. For example, you can request introductions with personalized messages through LinkedIn and search for fellow professionals in your industry using theTwitter search engine. Professionals can also take advantage of the LinkedIn Groups andLinkedIn Answers sections to share their expertise, engage in conversations and strengthen their credibility by posting on these forums. Social networking is excellent for meeting other professionals, keeping in touch with existing contacts and making initial connections, but it can never be as personal as direct interaction. However, online communication shouldn’t be your sole business networking strategy because it is not nearly personal enough. I believe that there is still a place for traditional networking techniques to supplement and make the most of your online efforts. The key is to be focused and attend the right events for you.

Making the Most of In-person Networking — Businesses shouldn’t abandon traditional networking events altogether. I recommend attending networking events where you know you will be in front of your prospective customers or clients. The following are examples of which traditional networking events are still appropriate to attend and which ones you should avoid:

  • What to Attend:

    • Events where you know you’ll be in front of your prospective customers or clients.

    • Events where you know CEOs and decision makers will be in attendance, not just salespeople.

    • Events that you know will attract your specific, niche target audience.

  • What to Avoid:

    • Large, general trade shows

    • Speed networking events

    • General Chamber meetings

    • Lectures

      • If you do attend lectures, do so for educational purposes rather than networking. However, you may want to attend these events to meet the speaker or network before the program begins. If you accomplished your goals, politely exit.

Once you’ve made an initial connection at a networking event, it’s essential to encourage communication using social media. For example, if someone has their Twitter handle orFacebook page name printed on their business card, try connecting with them after the networking event has ended. You can also request an introduction on LinkedIn or Google+by searching for the person’s full name or company. After you’ve reached out to your connections using social media, you can send private messages, engage them in conversations and keep in touch. On Twitter, you can also send your connections personalized tweets such as, “I thought you would be interested in this article…” or “What is your opinion on this topic?” Also, don’t forget to add them to your e-newsletter list.

Just as you should follow up with those you’ve met through face-to-face networking events using social media, I would also encourage in-person meetings with those you’ve met on the Web. After you’ve made an initial connection with a potential customer, client or professional, you can invite them to meet face-to-face, talk over the phone or have a conversation through Skype.

Before you leave the office for your next networking meeting, try these business development techniques.

5 Ways You Can Network and Develop Business Without Leaving Your Desk:

  1. Monitor Craigslist — Use Craigslist to monitor and respond to business opportunities. By setting five minutes aside at the beginning every day, you can easily browse to see if anyone is searching for something that your business can provide. If you find a relevant post, simply send an introductory message to the posted email, describing your business and how you can help the user.
  1. Participate in LinkedIn Answers and Groups — By participating in LinkedIn Group discussions and responding to questions on LinkedIn Answers, people will begin to see you as a thought leader and trusted source in your field. LinkedIn Answers is so valuable because, at traditional networking events, you may need to meet dozens of people before you find a question that is relevant to your business. On LinkedIn Answers, you can simply browse through questions and respond to what you can answer best. Not only will having this visibility and recognition on LinkedIn help you make stronger connections, but users will look to your business first, should they require your products or services in the future.
  1. Request Introductions on LinkedIn — Requesting an introduction on LinkedIn is a useful way to create new connections within your LinkedIn network. You can easily send and respond to introductions to those who are connected to the users that you are connected to. To do this, click on one of your contacts, search through this person’s connections for someone you would like to be introduced to and then click the “Get Introduced” button. You will then be prompted to compose a simple message to the person you are requesting an introduction from. By upgrading to a paid LinkedIn account, you may send messages directly, without waiting for an introduction from one of your contacts.
  1. Follow Up with Social Media Connections — Each time someone follows you on Twitter, becomes a fan on Facebook or connects with you on LinkedIn, don’t just ignore them. A tip is to send direct messages, thanking the user for connecting with your business and perhaps leading them to either your website, blog or another Web page.
  1. Participate in the Blogosphere — Blogging can also be a strong business networking tool. While it is important to frequently update your own blog, it is just as helpful to leave thoughtful comments on other blogs. You should strive to connect with bloggers in your targeted business areas. By sharing your expertise or advice with relevant bloggers, or on blogs that you know your target audience will visit, you can build powerful connections and relationships.

Wait, everything we just talked about cost you $0. Compare that to gas and attendance fees, not to mention valuable time spent out of your office. After you’ve taken advantage of these free tools, you can generate more leads and continue to build your business by developing Web advertising campaigns. To learn more about Web advertising, landing pages and email advertising, download our free guide, “Five Steps to Generating New Business through Web Advertising, Landing Pages and Emails.”

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

Google+’s Advanced Technology Addresses Facebook’s Shortcomings

Google recently launched Google+, a new social media giant that has taken the Internet by storm. Although it is still in its field-testing phase and by invitation only, Google+ has reached 10 million users in just 16 days, from June 28 to July 14. This remarkable feat took Twitter a total of 780 days and Facebook 852 days to accomplish. According to the latest official estimate on July 18, Google+ now has over 18 million users.

google-plus-graph1

Google+ improves upon the features of existing social media outlets. Like Facebook, you can create a profile, complete with personal information and photo albums, comment on other users’ content and share posts. Like Twitter, anyone can follow you and you may follow any user by adding them to your “circles,” no matter who they may be. For example, you may choose to add Google+’s founder, Larry Page, to your circle and you will not need his approval to do so.

Although there is no functionality for business pages or advertisements at the moment, we would encourage you to seek invitations from those you already know on Google+ and create personal profiles. Google+ also automatically imports your Gmail contacts so it is simple to find people you know. The company plans to add a business feature within the next couple of months. Google+ is rapidly evolving, with more features soon to come.

This article will provide you with an overview of Google+ features such as the +1 button, Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and its unique mobile and privacy capabilities.

+1 Button — This button is very similar to the Facebook “like” button. To click +1 on a blog post, article, photo or any other content is to give it your stamp of approval. You can get the code to put the +1 button on your own website and blog here.

Circles — On Google+, you can group your contacts into circles. For example, you may have a separate circle for friends, co-workers, business contacts, family and so on. You can create as many circles as you like. To add a person into one of these groups, simply drag them into a circle. Your contacts can be added to multiple circles as well. When you post text, photos, videos, links and location to your Google+ stream, you can select which circles to share the information with. For example, you may want to share a photo only with your friends, or you may share an interesting industry-related article with your business contacts. The Circles feature helps to address one of the shortcomings of Facebook which will help fuel the popularity of Google+.

Hangouts — This unique feature allows users to engage in live, face-to-face chats involving multiple people at a time. You can notify friends of who you’re hanging out with and they can choose to drop into your chat.

Sparks — Sparks delivers popular content from across the Internet on any topic you choose, in over 40 languages. Add your interests to Sparks and the tool will provide you with the videos and articles that would be of the most interest to you.

Google+ Mobile — Cell phones have become the ideal outlet for sharing information with our contacts. They are always by our side, always connected to the Internet and simple to use. Even in its beginning stages, Google+ has superior mobile capabilities. Now available on Android Market, the mobile Web and the App Store, Google+ allows users to announce their location, upload multimedia and join in “Huddles.”

Location — With Google+, you may choose to add your location to every post. Like FourSquare, this is a good tool for letting your friends know what you’re up to and recommending places for them to visit.

Upload Multimedia — Google+ has made sharing videos and photos from your phone to the Web effortless. Using Google+’s mobile feature, your photos and videos are uploaded automatically from your phone to a private album on Google+ that you can then moderate. After they are uploaded, all you have to do is decide who to share them with.

Huddles — Huddles is a unique group messaging feature that allows multiple people to chat in one place. Think of it as a texting conversation involving as many of your friends as you like.

Privacy — For those who are concerned about their privacy on social media websites, Google+ is a breath of fresh air. Google+ allows you to share any information on your profile selectively. For example, you can choose to show your occupation to business contacts but not your relationship status. If you only want your friends to be able to see your phone number, simply set up this information in your “Friends” circle only. A tip is to create a circle specifically for people who you don’t personally know and set restrictions on what they can and cannot view on your profile.

Secrets to Twitter Marketing

Twitter has quickly become the most powerful microblogging tool on the Web and has gained a reputation for breaking news and providing information to millions of users worldwide. Businesses have discovered the immense exposure and resources that Twitter has to offer. Companies utilize Twitter to promote their brand, interact with their targeted audience, track what people are saying about them, promote their organization’s content and create buzz around upcoming events. Business-to-customer and business-to-business interaction are crucial to any organization’s success and Twitter makes both quick and easy. Here are some things you need to know about Twitter:

What is Twitter? — Short posts called “tweets” serve as effective vehicles of communicating what is happening in your organization to others. These updates of 140 characters or less make Twitter compatible with mobile phones and text messaging. While you only have only 140 characters to communicate your message, you can include a link to full articles, websites and more. One important thing to keep in mind about Twitter is that people don’t care about what you’re doing, but rather what you’re thinking, reading or how you can help them. Through your tweets, notify followers of company and industry news, interesting articles or other business highlights.

Twitter Terms — Like many social media sites, Twitter has its own language. Before you create an account, it is best to be familiar with this vocabulary. To “follow” someone is to subscribe to their updates. Likewise, a “follower” is a person who receives your updates. Your “Twitter Handle” is your username. On Twitter, usernames should be as close to your real name, or business name, as possible. Otherwise, your audience will have difficulty finding you. The hashtag (#) is a tool to compile all conversations surrounding an event or theme in one place. You may also use hashtags to indicate a category or something that other people may be tweeting about. For example, after your main content, add #attorney or #italianrestaurant. To send a public message to an individual person, begin your tweet with @USERNAME. For example, your customer’s username is “ChefJoe.” To publicly address him on Twitter, you would tweet, “@ChefJoe Thank you for stopping in our restaurant today! We look forward to seeing you again.” This message will be then sent to all of your followers, as well as ChefJoe, even if he is not a follower. If you want to send a private message to a Twitter user, use the private message option. You can private message any Twitter follower. You may also choose to quickly share what other users are tweeting. If you spot another user’s tweet that you would like to share with your followers, you may choose to “re-tweet” it. Re-tweet, or RT, is to repeat what someone else has already tweeted, allowing your own network to see their post as well.

Get started — Before jumping right in, make sure that you have a feel for how Twitter works. Browse through your competitors’ Twitter profiles and learn how to improve upon their approaches. Once you understand how to use Twitter and are familiar with what each term means, develop a strategy. Determine what you will be using the outlet for and what you would like to communicate to your audience. Once you have a plan in mind, create a primary account based on your name and then another for your business. You may choose to use your personal account to act as a liaison to the public for your company, share your personality and develop more personal relationships with your company’s network. Make sure to fill in all relevant information for your accounts – company website, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc. After you complete your profiles, seek out users that are relevant and share common interests. A tip is to start with your personal contacts and then build followers by promoting your new page. Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up on your newsfeed. Ideally, you want to be followed more than you follow others. While you are building a strong follower base, it is essential to begin tweeting.

Interact — Twitter offers more than a mere one-sided conversation. Although Twitter can be used as an effective public relations channel to share links, press releases and direct followers back to your company’s website, do not make this its sole purpose. Avoid having too many self-promotional tweets. Instead, interact with your audience. Interaction and communication shows your customers that you are interested in what they have to say. Businesses can re-tweet other users’ posts or links that they might find interesting and would like to share with their audience. Address any negative comments, give valuable feedback and help customers solve their problems by tweeting at someone or sending a direct message. Post questions to your audience such as “How can we improve this product?” or “What else would you like to see from our company?” Listen to customer feedback and adapt to their needs.

Link your Twitter and Facebook Fan Page — Linking your fan page and Twitter profile will save you time and effort by sharing status updates, photos or events on both social media outlets simultaneously. To have your fan page updates automatically linked to Twitter, download the Twitter application on Facebook, found here. Every time you publish on your Facebook fan page, the updates will be immediately tweeted. You may also update your Facebook status from Twitter using Selective Tweets, found here. Through Selective Tweets, you can choose which tweets you would like to share on Facebook by simply ending a tweet with #fb whenever you would like to post it as your status. This is a good way to integrate your social media sites and build your Web presence.

Download TweetDeck — Download TweetDeck. You can use this tool to manage your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google Buzz, Foursquare and LinkedIn accounts, all in one convenient place. One benefit of TweetDeck is that it allows you to converse more easily on Twitter. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, in organized columns — @replies, direct messages, friends, favorites and even customized columns.

Use Twitter Favorites — The Twitter Favorites feature is an excellent marketing tool for businesses. To the left of each tweet in your news stream, there is a star icon. By clicking this star, the tweet will be added to your Favorites tab. As a business, you should favorite all positive tweets or praise your organization has received. These testimonials are a valuable resource in improving your business’ public image. You may send your customers the link to your Favorites page (http://twitter.com/USERNAME/favorites) to display the positive feedback you have received.

Use Twitter Search Engines — Consistently monitor your business through the Twitter search engines, as well as through other monitoring software. This allows you to see what people are saying about you, your organization, products, services and competitors. Once you have spotted relevant tweets, address any praise or complaints by either tweeting at the user or sending them a direct message. Twitter Advanced Search is also a helpful monitoring tool. Once you set up your search, you can save the query as an RSS feed for you to easily monitor updates. You may want to keep track of a trending news story, monitor conversations surrounding your keywords or follow mentions of your business. TweetDeck is also a helpful tool to help you quickly search for what you want and filter out what you don’t.

Watch What You Tweet — Never tweet anything that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. Despite its casual feel, social networking should be taken seriously. Employees have lost their jobs for posting inappropriate content or photos on social media websites. Once you post something online, it is fair game for the public and damaging content can tarnish your company’s reputation. Remember, when you post on a social media site, you are speaking on your business’ behalf. All content should be positive, accurate and put both you and your organization in a good light.

Measure your progress — Measure your success using free Twitter monitoring websites. For example, TwitterGrader grades your profile based upon your number of followers, power of followers, updates, follower/following ratio and more. Similar sites include TwitterScore, TweetEffect, TwitChamp and Twitterholic. Grade your own profile on these sites and compare your score with that of your competitors’. These programs will provide you with valuable information about where you rank in comparison, where you are successful and what areas need improvement.

Promote Your Twitter Profile — Make it easy for your audience to find your business. The Twitter icon and link should be present on your business’ website, blog, email signature, business cards and in any correspondence with your clients.

Stay active — Constant activity is essential to Twitter. Tweet as much as possible – at least every day. If you don’t devote time to maintaining your business’ Twitter account, there is no point in creating one at all. As with all social media outlets, a fresh stream of strong content is vital to their success. You can update your Twitter feed from any Web browser, mobile phone or instant messaging service. Ideally, businesses should be tweeting at least several times a day. It is also important to have a wide range of tweets, re-tweets and direct conversations with other users.

Visit The Public Relations and Marketing Group’s website for examples of social media performed on behalf of its clients.