Social media can sometimes feel like a necessary evil; a marketing tool that you need to use in this day and age, but also a bit confusing if you’re not already a moderate to heavy user in your personal time.
With the frustration of social media in mind, we created the following guide to help you sift through the craziness that is the interweb. In this guide, you will find:
We opted to make this guide FREE for you to say “Thank you!” for giving us the opportunity to help your business succeed using social media. We ask nothing in return, only hoping you find value in the information we have put together for you.
Now, let's get started...
Facebook is well known as the most popular social media network, and if you have any type of business you should have an active Facebook page. As of Q4 2019, they had 248 million monthly active users throughout the US and Canada, proving that it is still a top contender in the social media space, even with the popularity of its visual media-focused daughter platform, Instagram.
No matter your business, brand, or community, if you need to market yourself online you should be on Facebook. This free networking channel is appropriate for virtually every business. Adding to their value are Facebook groups, as well as their robust advertising options that can also transfer to Instagram ads at the click of a box.
HOW TO CREATE A FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE
Since Facebook Business Pages are run by administrators, you will need to first create or log into your personal Facebook account.
FACEBOOK DO’S AND DON’TS
DO set up a Business Page and post to it often, ideally more than once or twice per week. Many people use Facebook to look up a business and see if they are legitimate, or in the case of a local business to see when they are open. Make sure you are frequently active.
DON’T set up a regular Facebook profile and name it after your business. Doing this will take away so many of the business-only features that make Facebook such a great marketing tool, like engagement metrics and the ability to advertise on their platform.
DO engage with your followers, even if (read: especially if) comments or reviews on your page are negative in nature. Highlight how amazing your customer service is by interacting with anyone who sticks out a toe on your page. This can improve your reach on Facebook, snowballing into better leads, more sales, and boosting your algorithm ranking so that more non-followers will see your posts.
DON’T think Facebook is the be-all-end-all of social networks. Although it is incredibly valuable, using only one social media channel will stunt your growth by letting a small portion of your potential customers see your business on social.
Visual media is by far the most popular at this point in time, making YouTube one of the must-try social media channels for really any business. YouTube has captured 126 million active monthly users and is by far the most popular video-based platform. With 63% of their users logging in at least once per day, keeping an active presence on this marketing channel is a great way to keep your name in front of purchasers.
Really any business can find success with video marketing using YouTube, but the determining factor is if you can show something positive about your product or service in an entertaining way. The vast majority (82%) of YouTube users visit the channel for entertainment purposes, with only 18% of US users saying they follow brands or companies. Uploading how-to videos, humorous or captivating content, or even unboxing-style videos can make this free marketing platform work in your favor.
HOW TO CREATE A YOUTUBE BUSINESS CHANNEL
Since YouTube Business Channels are run by administrators, you will need to first create or log into your Google account.
YOUTUBE DO’S AND DON’TS
DO consider YouTube an important social media platform, even if video is uncomfortable for you. You do not have to be in front of the camera to create an appealing video. Instructional videos can show your hands or others on your team, or even use a voice-over with still images.
DON’T be afraid to get creative. Use humor. Enjoy this experience. The more for you have with it, the more likely you are to go “viral” and find free marketing success.
DO make sure you are only uploading high-quality videos. Use your camera in good lighting to avoid dark or pixelated video, and make sure you are using reliable editing software to improve the flow of your video, add music or voice-overs, or place text. There are some excellent free apps on both the computer and mobile devices.DON’T forget to plug your YouTube channel in all your other social media profiles and on your website. You are working hard to create these videos -- make sure you show them off! The best way to grow in this marketing climate is self-promotion using social media.
Instagram is a close second to Facebook as the most important social media network for any type of business. Why? In June 2018, they passed one billion active users and that number has held steady ever since. Their user base is primarily young, with more than half of their global users under 34 years old, so Instagram is absolutely essential if you are looking to appeal to millennials and younger.
The most successful brands marketing on Instagram are those that share beautiful or educational visuals of their product or service. Images are king on Instagram, but videos are becoming increasingly popular, especially if they are kept under one minute in length so they can post directly in a viewer’s feed, rather than uploading to IGTV. Instagram Stories are also a great way to keep your name in front of followers, as well as a fun place to upload “behind the scenes” type content.
HOW TO CREATE AN INSTAGRAM BUSINESS PROFILE
Instagram profiles are free-standing, meaning there are no administrators to run the page and each page has just one way to log in. There are two places you can create an Instagram profile -- in the mobile app or on a desktop -- the former being far more powerful and our recommended profile creation tool.
From the Instagram mobile phone app:
From a desktop browser:
INSTAGRAM DO’S AND DON’TS
DO switch your Instagram account to a professional account immediately upon creation by updating your settings in the mobile app. This is essential for tracking your followers, engagement, and if you want to advertise on the channel.
DON’T upload any and all photos to your page just to have content. Instagram users expect high-quality photos and videos, and more than likely won’t follow you if you aren’t delivering on that promise.
DO remember that curation is key. Keeping your page “shiny” with beautiful, original content is a must. Curating your feed with a color scheme or content theme can really help you stand out.DON’T overlook the power of Instagram contests and giveaways as a very low-cost marketing option. It could be as affordable as offering one of your products for free or giving away a small amount of your service. You can learn more about this in our Quick Guide to Growing Your Social Media.
HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN BUSINESS PROFILE
Since LinkedIn Business Profiles are run by administrators, you will need to first create or log into your personal LinkedIn account.
LINKEDIN DO’S AND DON’TS
DO consider setting up a LinkedIn Business Profile even if your business or niche don’t fit perfectly within the guidelines mentioned above. It is an excellent place to hire team members and network with other professionals in your arena.
DON’T overlook LinkedIn advertising if your business deals mostly in B2B. Because so many professionals use the channel, there is a good chance your ads will fall into the right hands. The network’s advertising feature is also far less saturated than Facebook, so your advertising budget will go much further.
DO set up and optimize your personal LinkedIn page as a business professional. Share the posts from your Business Page to your personal page for more traction.
DON’T forget to tell your employees about your page so they can interact as well. Have them link their experience to your business to help you look more legitimate and active. They can also “follow” your new page and encourage their connections to do the same.
You may have heard that “Twitter is dead”, but their 152 million daily active users say otherwise. While some business types won’t do well on Twitter, many will. A few of the most successful niches on Twitter are companies that can make their content funny or viral because of its voice, anything related to politics, and many businesses appealing to males aged 35-65, which is by far their largest demographic.
The easy share feature, called “retweet”, makes posts so easy to share with others that the virality potential of Twitter is evenly matched to Facebook and Pinterest. Many people also like the small bites of info -- only 280 characters per post -- that are easy to digest and then pass along or reply to. While Twitter may not be the best platform for your business, it is certainly worth exploring if your target demographic meets their statistics.
HOW TO CREATE A TWITTER PROFILE
Twitter pages are free-standing, meaning there are no administrators to run the page and each page has just one way to log in.
TWITTER DO’S AND DON’TS
DO change your username before posting to your page. Twitter no longer prompts you to choose a username, and many people overlook this important and identifying profile feature.
DON’T use underscores in your username if you can help it. Try to stick with alphanumeric characters if possible and get your username as close to your actual business name as you can. It is helpful if you can match your username to your Facebook, Instagram, and any other social networks you’re using.
DO use Twitter like you’re an actual person. Show your wit, don’t be afraid to be funny and “call people out” to make your posts go viral. The restaurant chain Wendy’s is a great example of this type of ideal Twitter marketing in action.
DON’T forget about the importance of interactions on Twitter. Users love to see “retweets” and will happily share your content if you start sharing theirs. This is free marketing at it’s finest.
Pinterest may not be on your radar as one of the most essential social networks, but if your target market is women aged 18-49 you should definitely consider using the channel. Pinterest is well known for it’s shoppable posts and Pins that let users easily share images and ideas. They also allow the creation of Boards to organize the Pins you save, making it a great place to store recipes, craft ideas, or even wish lists for wedding registries and the like.Create your Pinterest Business Profile here: https://business.pinterest.com/
Online directories are similar to the old phone books that landed on your door every month back when home phones were the norm. They provide a place for local customers to find your business with ease, increasing your leads and sales without much work on your end. Most of them even offer advertising options.
In this section, we will go over each of the most popular and widely used online directories, including four honorable mentions that you may also want to consider.
Google is hands down the most popular search engine, holding nearly 88% worldwide market share. They are so popular that the term “Google it” has replaced most other terms for searching the internet. Because of this, it is essential that every business – big or small, local or online – hold a Google My Business profile. This will guarantee your company pops up on the right side of a Google search window when someone looks for your business using the engine.
Not only does holding a My Business profile let you show up in search, but it more seamlessly incorporates your business into the Google world, meaning advertising is better and your analytics will improve. There are many Google services, many totally free, that can help your business succeed and grow. Even if you don’t use Google often, it pays to hold a My Business listing.
HOW TO CREATE A GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTING
All of Google’s services run through a Google account, so you will need to first create or log into the Google account you use for your business.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS DO’S AND DON’TS
DO point customers to your Google My Business page to leave reviews. Since your listing links with Google search, positive reviews will show to potential customers in search before they even click to your page.
DON’T skip verification by mail, even if you don’t have a business location. It will unlock all parts of your profile so that you look legitimate and customers can leave reviews.
DO claim your free $100 in advertising credit. It is absolutely worth it to advertise with Google.
DON’T forget to update your hours and add special hours for holidays. Because people use Google to search for business hours frequently, failing to do this may hurt your business.
Yelp is a major player for helping people find businesses to purchase from, especially from within the US. Each listing page contains information, links, photos, and reviews to give legitimacy to your business. As of Q3 2019, Yelp’s mobile website had more than 80 million unique visitors, plus more than 37 million people using their mobile app. That is a massive user base, and if you are anywhere near a major city it is in your benefit to claim a Yelp listing, especially if you are a local business.
Companies that do the best with Yelp tend to be servicing a specific location, as finding local spots is the main reason people use Yelp’s website and mobile app. Service and product-based businesses alike will benefit from creating a listing, as long as you are not web-based. Yelp’s algorithm rewards engagement, so encourage customers to leave reviews on your Yelp page to improve your reach in local searches for a specific type of business.
HOW TO CREATE A YELP LISTING
YELP DO’S AND DON’TS
DO point customers to your Yelp listing to leave reviews. Because Yelp is so popular for finding local businesses, showing positive reviews can win over tons of business when customers are searching for a specific type of business. This is especially true of restaurants and service businesses where the choices are seemingly endless.
DON’T forget to link your website, add your business hours, and upload a few photos – at minimum. It helps to make your business look more legitimate so locals will shop with you.
DO consider making a personal account and leaving reviews for local businesses you frequent in your area. There is nothing like supporting the locals so they will support you back. Plus, if you create a relationship with a local business owner, they will likely support you by leaving you a review and frequenting your business in return.
DON’T worry about negative reviews should one pop into your Yelp listing. This is a perfect time to show your awesome customer service by leaving a reply and either fixing the issue or wishing the customer well.
If you are a home services professional, you likely already know how valuable HomeAdvisor is for building your customer base. Located in virtually every major city across the US, many homeowners use HomeAdvisor to search for professionals that can help with home improvement projects. Just like Yelp, the HomeAdvisor site holds reviews from real people, making it easier than ever to find someone trustworthy.
If you are really anywhere in the home services niche, you will probably benefit from listing your business on HomeAdvisor. From plumbing and HVAC to landscaping and swimming pool maintenance, HomeAdvisor is an unmatched resource. It is even possible to search by price, making it an essential tool for many homeowners.
HOW TO CREATE A HOMEADVISOR LISTING
HomeAdvisor has a strict verification process for consumer protection and does not allow non-professionals to access their account area. Because of this, we are not able to walk you through the steps of filling out your profile, however we recommend doing two things:
HOMEADVISOR DO’S AND DON’TS
DO encourage customers to leave reviews about your business on HomeAdvisor. It can help you stand out from your competitors when a customer does a search for your type of service.
DON’T skimp on filling out your About section. During the initial vet of business, customers only have your About information and reviews to go off of.
DO consider hiring your own service professionals from HomeAdvisor to support the cause, then make sure you leave them an honest review. This is a great way to network with companies in different areas of service so that you can recommend them to homeowners, and in turn they will recommend you.
DON’T forget to check that the area you service is available in HomeAdvisor before creating an account.
Angie’s List is a great place for homeowners and business owners to find home services professionals. Similar to HomeAdvisor, a wide range of professionals are available for really any improvement project, however Angie’s List also includes highly specialized professionals, such as GE appliance repair, safe movers, and many more. Their website boasts that there are 720+ types of service professionals.
Members of Angie’s List submit more than 60,000 reviews every month, making them a valuable resource for people to find their perfect professional for their needs. Their website holds 5 million members and counting. If you are in the home services niche, make sure you list your business on Angie’s List.
HOW TO CREATE AN ANGIE’S LIST LISTING
Angie’s List has a strict verification process for consumer protection and does not allow non-professionals to access their account area. Because of this, we are not able to walk you through the steps of filling out your profile, however we recommend doing two things.
ANGIE’S LIST DO’S AND DON’TS
DO create a listing with Angie’s List. Their website is high in Google search rankings, making it that much easier for homeowners and business owners to find you.
DON’T be too vague about your service type when filling out their profile. They contain a very high number of professionals and the more specific you are, the more likely you will be to show up in a search for your area.
DO mention your listing on Angie’s List and encourage customers to leave reviews for you there. Letting others see how hard you work with a stellar review (or many) can help you stand out from your competitors.
DON’T forget to add a link to your listing on your website so that others can read your great reviews.
Houzz is yet another website for home services professionals, but with a twist. They also sell furniture and allow professionals to upload high-quality photos and videos of their work. This seemingly small added detail actually makes a huge difference in the appeal of the website, making it easy for customers to shop by look instead of only by price and review.
If you are in the home services business, Houzz is likely somewhere you will want to list your company, but with one catch. A listing on Houzz.com will cost you between $59-179 USD per month. While the cost might seem high to simply list your business, you will also gain access to tools like their lead management dashboard, project management tools, and design tools like their 3d Floor Planner.
HOW TO CREATE A HOUZZ LISTING
Navigate to https://www.houzz.com/pro to sign up and choose your plan or request a free demo.
HOUZZ DO’S AND DON’TS
DO check out the features for Houzz Pro and request a demo. Even if you don’t think a membership is in the budget right now, knowing what they offer may help guide you to your winning marketing strategy.
DON’T overlook a membership with Houzz as a possible way to consolidate the inner-workings of your business. With tools like their website designer and payment dashboard, their site may be able to help you get organized in a way that improves sales and output.
Although Bing may not be quite as popular as Google, their monthly search volume is upwards of 12 billion monthly requests worldwide. They also hold the third highest mobile market share, only behind Google and Yahoo!. Because the listing is free and easy to set up, you have nothing to lose by claiming your business listing on Bing.Claim your Bing Places listing here: https://www.bingplaces.com
Yellow Pages has been around since 1886 when they printed their very first paper directory. Since that time, we have seen them go from frequent doorstep deliveries to a powerful online directory that they boast sees “nearly 60 million consumers a month” and counting. If you haven’t already added your business to yellowpages.com, now is the time.Claim your Yellow Pages listing here: https://getstarted.thryv.com/free-listing-yp/
The Better Business Bureau has long been a trustworthy place where consumers and businesses can interact. Customers can leave reviews on the site, letting others know if the business is legitimate or worth skipping. Local and online businesses alike should be available on BBB to show consumers that your company is one to trust.Add your business to BBB here: https://www.bbb.org/
Yahoo! is still a trusted search engine and ranks third in market share, only behind Google and Bing. Their Localworks service works similar to Google My Business in that it helps people find your business using the Yahoo! search engine and across 70+ local listing sites. If you aren’t already using Yahoo! Localworks, make sure you check it out.Claim your Yahoo Local listing here: https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local
Our goal with this guide was to help you navigate the plethora of social media networks and online directories available to you, as well as offer a step-by-step action plan for creating each page or listing. The do’s and don’ts can be especially helpful if you are not familiar with a network but feel it’s a great fit for your business.
The companies that take advantage of free marketing using social media and online directories are the ones that grow their leads and sales at a much quicker rate.
We focused this quick guide on the three most important parts of building your networks and directories:
It is easy to skip social media altogether, however doing so can be a massive setback in helping your business growth in this internet-driven era. We urge you to set up at least one page or listing to get started and see how it goes. The first step is always the most difficult.
Thank you so much for reading this guide. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at [email protected] Happy socializing!