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There are millions of small businesses in the United States. Do they need social media? Here are a few fun facts:

  • Social can definitely help SEO and is required in highly competitive niches, but otherwise, ranking in search has little or nothing to do with your social media presence. Almost every business can benefit from ranking in search.
  • Most business owners have no idea what they’re missing if they haven’t ranked on the front page of Google.
  • Larger brands can usually benefit from social for brand awareness.
  • What works for one company will not work for another. A Pizza shop can benefit from Twitter and one 15 minutes away may have a terrible experience with Twitter.
  • Facebook was an ideal platform for many companies, but reach has been drastically reduced. Now, even people who follow your business page aren’t seeing what you’re posting unless you boost your posts.
  • Google Plus is an excellent platform. Currently it has just a fraction of the active users that Facebook has.
  • Pinterest and other social media networks do drive traffic. This can help certain businesses.
  • Not everyone uses social media.

If you need help figuring out if you need social media or not, or which platform can help you, or ranking in search, feel free to contact us here.

Below is a video. This is a Google Hangout On Air with myself and Jesse Wojdylo. We discuss ways business owners can use social media, how it may help them, be useless to them, or even harm their business. Below the video is a video transcript if you would rather read.

Len:                 Again, no bell again. Darn it. My name’s Len. Today I’m here with Jesse, and we’re going to talk about how social media can help a business or how it could be useless to a business, or how it could actually hurt a business.

I’ve got this error that keeps showing up on my screen saying that the Hangout is not working, even though it works fine.

Jesse:               Oh, the joys of Google Plus.

Len:                 If you see me looking off into the corner over and over, that’s why.

Me and Jesse help businesses rank and search online, and more or less that usually helps them build out their social media profiles sometimes.

Jesse, why don’t you introduce yourself?

Jesse:               I am Jesse Wojdylo. I help businesses get more business. Heaven forbid that’s something people actually do these days, but my goal is to help businesses gain exposure online in whatever way that may be. That may be using social media. That may be reaching out as far as search. That may be just setting up a Google Plus local page, or maybe even just putting up a WordPress blog. I basically help businesses reach their target audience through the Internet.

Len:                 One thing a lot of businesses can take advantage of is to get their name in as many places as possible, so if your customers are looking for you on Pinterest or Twitter or Google Plus, they can actually find you.

Jesse:               Yes. That is something that I encourage businesses to do, but not go full steam with every social network. Something I discuss a lot is, is that not every social network has your target audience. If you are selling Mack trucks and you sell 18 wheelers and big Mack trucks … If you don’t know what a Mack truck is, it’s a big dump truck. You’re probably not going to hop on Pinterest and Instagram just promoting your business, because very few people on Pinterest and Instagram are going to purchase a $90,000 dump truck. They’re just college students and high school students who, they may purchase a toy truck for $1.50, but they’re not going to purchase a Mack truck.

Most people that are looking for that type of stuff would probably go to Google search and search 18 wheelers for sale, maybe even Craigslist. Know where your target audience is, and if a social media expert or guru tells you that you need to be on every single social network and active on social networks, you might want to run away from that guru, because that is simply not the case. I don’t discount the fact that you have a presence there, but you don’t need a large presence that’s updated hourly on every social network.

Len:                 Right. Right. Yeah, that’s one thing, a lot of the experts have an agenda in mind, and it’s to sell something to you.

Jesse:               Yeah, and that’s a problem I see a lot with some of the agencies or firms, per se, that have an entire staff on board, and they want to sell you on a product that is, honestly, more expensive. They’ll say, “Hey, we will update your Pinterest and we will update your Instagram, and we’ll make you a Twitter account. We’ll make a LinkedIn, and any other social network. We’ll even make you a Snapchat account. Do you necessarily need that? They’re going to charge you 500 to $1000 more for each bullet point on that proposal. Before you know it, this proposal’s $20,000 and all you really wanted was a Google Plus local page.

Are you going to pay $20,000 just to set up a Google Plus local page?

Len:                 Right. I guess that’s a bad way that a business can use social media. I talked to an optometrist a couple weeks ago. He didn’t even know what was being posted on his Facebook page. He just said, “I’ve got 17,000 followers. It’s so awesome.” I looked at it right in front of him, and there was … For every post, he’d get one or two likes, so not only were probably 16,000 of those followers fake accounts, but the stuff he was putting out was getting absolutely no engagement. It was mostly visual distractions, and in a way that can actually alienate customers. If I’m on Facebook, which neither one of us are, but say I was on Facebook and every day I see some square inside of a square or guess how many triangles are in this page kind of thing, it’s going to make me want to unfollow that optometrist.

Then he’s going to be out of my mind and the next time I need glasses or whatever, I might forget all about him.

Jesse:               Yeah, you bring up a good point that … I call the society that we live in as the like society. Ever since Facebook introduced that like button, most business owners and especially people on Facebook and Instagram, they are just enamored with getting as many likes as possible. Last night I, unfortunately, opened my Instagram app, which I do about once a month, and the first Instagram photo I saw was a young woman I know and the hashtags were, double tap for a like, like for like, would you like my photo, do you like me. That was the name of the photo. It did not say what she was doing. It literally was just begging for likes, and it had about 125 likes, but I will ask this of any business owner and anybody on social media, what does that matter to you? If you get 750 likes or 25 likes, is it helping you get more business?

I would argue, I would rather than have five likes from paying customers than 75,000 likes from spam accounts and high school students. I would. That’s just how I feel, and I think that business owners, much like the optometrist you mentioned, they get caught up in, oh, I have 17,000 fans. You’ve never had 17,000 customers in the history of your company, so how is it possible that you have 17,000 true fans?

Len:                 Right. Right. It was very unnatural, and I don’t think he’d like to hear that, but I had to mention it to him anyways. In the event they did want to put out something useful, like, “Hey, we’re going to have Oakley’s on sale next week or contact lenses are half or whatever.” He probably would not be able to get that message out at all, because of the spam that’s been put on his page.

Jesse:               That is correct, and I mean, something I will point out is there’s nothing wrong with using a social profile to illustrate what you do, as well as some things you enjoy. If you’re a optometrist and you enjoy photography or you enjoy fly fishing or you enjoy mountain biking or hiking, don’t think that the social media account should just be business. We’ve seen that that doesn’t work, as well. There should be a happy medium. Like Len said, it shouldn’t be triangles within triangles or chain mail or a baby is dying in Kenya, if you don’t like this the doctor won’t provide the surgery. That’s just all garbage. If your social media company’s doing that, fire them today.

That’s just not good for anybody.

Len:                 Right. Now, I guess another bad use of social media would be … I’ve seen some places will have like a intern or one of their employees that just doesn’t have that much stuff to do, and when they’re not mopping the floor, they go online and they’re just posting random stuff on their Twitter account. I guess, quite often the quality can be better than the quantity.

Jesse:               Yeah, so that’s something else I encourage every small business to think about, is to have a strategy in mind when starting the social media campaign, or any type of Internet campaign. If there’s no strategy, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Len said it. You’re going to get the intern or the secretary or someone on the payroll that’s not doing much to go out there and share pictures, and she’s going to share photos of her and her best friends, selfie, and she’s going to share pictures of somebody mopping the floor and you are an optometrist. You’re not a cleaning service. Unfortunately, it’s quality over quantity. I think that over time we’re going to see that the quality will rise to the top, whereas these accounts that are just sharing 30 and 40 pictures a day on every social network, are kind of, like Len said, you’re going to get unfollowed and you’re not going to be on the radar when that person is actually looking to buy.

Len:                 Right. Right. I’ve also seen, it seems like social media’s really failed some businesses, or at least it’s just not right for some businesses. I go to a farmer’s market and there’s a farmer nearby and I try to buy some locally sustainable food that’s produced right here in town and the farmer will put on their Facebook page, you know, today we’re going to be at the farmer’s market and we have fresh beef or they have a sausage special or something. They’ll post their specials on Facebook. I guess a lot of restaurants and people in the food industry just don’t seem to know that the Facebook reach has been drastically reduced.

Say they had 500 followers and they post their special of the day, only 50 people or 100 people at the most are going to see what they actually have. There’s a restaurant here in my town, and they post their lunch specials every day and they make really great lunches and they’re cheap and they’re fast, but there’s no way for me to actually find what they’re offering. Even their fans on Facebook can’t find what they’re offering because the reach has been so reduced.

Is there even a solution for them, just to get the word out on a daily basis? Other than a mailing list? If you’re like me, I don’t like mailing lists. I unsubscribe from all of them because the last thing I want is 400 e-mails every morning when I have paying customers to talk to.

Jesse:               That brings up an interesting point, and I’ve said this from day one with Google Plus. I’ve said this with Facebook. Part of the reason I do not own a Facebook account is that I don’t own that content. Any bit of content you post on Facebook, so if this local business, this local eatery, posts on Facebook, heaven forbid something happen and that Facebook account go down. If the Facebook account goes down, you know where all that data went? It’s gone. It’s not yours. You did all of that work for Facebook.

Something I encourage everybody to do is have a place where you host your own content. That’s not Facebook. That’s not Twitter. That’s not Google Plus. That’s Pinterest. That is your website. I mean, the best way to get interaction and for people to actually see what you offer is to own the website, because then you determine what goes on that website. Heaven forbid you determine what people see.

It’s very basic these days. You don’t have to pay $50,000 for a website. There are very affordable websites out there, and Len can make you a website if you need a basic WordPress website. That’s the first place I would start. I would start that each day you create a blog post or an update or have the same page every day, and just throw up the special. Every time somebody comes in for lunch, hand them a business card and say, “Hey, our website updates the special. We don’t want to use Facebook or Instagram or anywhere else like that, because we’re losing our reach, but you will always get our daily specials on our website.” Ultimately that will help tremendously build your presence through every other online presence, because people are actually coming to the website.

As far as understanding, you mentioned that some businesses don’t understand that they’re losing reach with Facebook. They don’t have a clue. They have no idea what those numbers mean. They farm that out to some social media company. Some social media company says, “Hey, you guys are doing a great job. You got 20 clicks yesterday” and what does that mean? They don’t know. They just keep paying the bill, unfortunately, and they don’t even own that content. The social media company owns that content.

First of all, create your own content and put it on a website you own.

Len:                 Right. Right. I think Google Plus would be the perfect platform for it, it’s just, in my town, nobody’s even heard of Google Plus, let alone use it. There’s just nobody from my area uses Google Plus, at all, not even the businesses. Most of them don’t even have their Google Plus local page claimed. They don’t even know it exists… That would be great if everybody used it, but they just don’t.

As for the farmer, I guess his solution would be a mailing list or website because they … What he currently does, and we talked about this earlier, is he uses a chalkboard. There’s a lot of people that frequent the market and they come in and they walk around to see who has what special and I guess social media just hasn’t worked out for him that well.

Jesse:               This is going to be hard for a lot of people watching this video to understand, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t use the computer. There are even more people out there that don’t use the computer for every single need. They still do take Sunday drives. People still do go to the market. People just drive around town seeing what is available. For that type of demographic, must like the farmer at the farmer’s market, maybe he goes to Kinko’s and he prints off a hundred flyers and he goes to local bulletin boards and he goes to local community centers. That would be a better form of marketing than him spending money on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, because like you said, when you’re marketing to someone who’s not there, you’re wasting money.

It’s pointless. You’re wasting your time and your energy when you could be doing it something better. There’s always a value in printing … Or, not always, but for him, there would be a value in printing off a sheet of paper that said, “These are the prices I’m offering today” and stapling … I mean, we still see it in downtown areas. Staple that thing to a light pole.

Len:                 Right. Right. Now, you said something interesting earlier, like over in Chapel Hill, there’s a lot of people using Twitter, a lot of younger demographic that uses Twitter and restaurants could benefit from using Twitter.

Jesse:               Absolutely. I think that, first of all, understand your audience, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a college town. There’s a major college in the town called the University of North Carolina, and probably 70% of the students have Twitter, and if they don’t have Twitter they hear about things from Twitter. The word of mouth marketing on Twitter is just tremendous on that campus. I don’t know if anybody knows about the game Flappy Bird, but heaven bird that Flappy Bird game has gone nuts because of Twitter. If you own a local restaurant on Franklin Street and you’re offering half priced pizza every time UNC wins, you don’t want to have to go to Facebook and fight that battle. You’re probably not going to put it on your website. You may or may not.

If you go on Twitter and you say, “Okay, the Tarheels won, everybody come to Johnny’s Pizza, you’re going to get half priced pizza.” A few people retweet that. A few little word of mouth here and there. I know personally, for myself, I know where things are happening in Chapel Hill, solely because of Twitter.

Len:                 I guess another good thing about social media would be the social signals and the incoming links. Any business that takes advantage to build out there Google Plus page and engage, they can … and their Twitter page … I’m sorry, their Pinterest page and their Google Plus page, those can especially help with the website’s ranking itself. That’s always a good thing.

Jesse:               Absolutely. Now, that’s something, once again, as a business, you need to understand, do you want to value from search? If search matters to you, then Google Plus and Pinterest are the two social networks you have got to be using. If you get clients or customers that type into the search engine Raleigh optometrist or Pittsboro dentistry, or need a cavity filled or something like that, social media is … should for you, would be Google Plus one, Pinterest two, everything else, that’s just if I have extra money. Those two should be one and two, and unfortunately, on most people’s list, it’s backwards. Those are numbers six and seven or five and six, instead of being number one and two.

What they do not realize, because 99% of people don’t understand true SEO, is that the links from Facebook, the links from Twitter, the links from Instagram, are worthless, zero, nadda, zilch. Google cannot crawl those links and those tweets and those updates, so they’re basically behind a firewall that google cannot assign a value to them, zero nadda. I mean, Reliant has websites, I have websites, I work with clients where our only marketing and our only SEO is through Google Plus, and we dominate search, just dominate. If you understood the value of a true social link back, you would be doing it, too. Unfortunately, like I said, 99% of the people are just clueless. They don’t even know.

Len:                 Right. Yeah, my previous company, we didn’t even use social… I sold it a few years ago, so it was before Google Plus and that, but yeah, just due to the content alone, it just dominated search and that generated millions and millions of dollars in sales. That was our only advertising.

Jesse:               Yeah, absolutely. If you can get to the top of search for the keyword phrase where people find you, then there’s no argument to be made that you can make lots and lots of money. It’s funny, because anybody who has had a business where they rank in search, they will die to get to the front of Google search because they know how valuable it is. I mean, they will pay thousands and thousands of dollars a month just for someone who has a clue as to do it.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand, because they’re stuck on page five or page six or page 50 of search, and they just think it’s invaluable. Oh, I’d rather go on Facebook. All my customers are on Facebook. You have no idea. You have no idea how much business … I have to turn away business on a daily basis because I rank so well in search. I do. I give it to other people. I mean, I can’t take it all on.

Len:                 Right. Right. They’ve got no idea. When I had the computer store there was a guy just 10 miles away from me, real great guy, I tried really hard, but he completely ignored his website. It’s just like a static GIF image. He actually died of a heart attack he was so stressed out from running the business. I’ve seen countless computer stores close all over the United States. I used to do business with hundreds of them. Over the years I’ve seen the majority of them shut down and go out of business just because they … It’s so odd. They were computer people and they ignored Google. It just shows, that’s exactly right. Unless somebody’s actually experienced the success of breaking, well, it’s just, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Jesse:               In conclusion, what I would suggest of any company, is first of all, understand where you want to get your customers. If you’re the local farmer, maybe you go to the farmer’s market. You have your dry erase board or your chalkboard and that’s how you get them. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising. Maybe even a phone book ad or a …

Len:                 A what ad?

Jesse:               … a magazine ad, because people still read those these days. But, if you’re someone who has a service where you want people to find you, and I think you should know that, if you own a business and you run that business, you should know if they’re going to use Google or somewhere to search for you. If you do, I would strongly suggest getting on Google Plus and Pinterest and working your way into learning it or hiring someone who does know it, and you will find that the benefits are truly amazing.

Len:                 Sounds good. Yeah, I think that could help anything from a photographer to an oil change company to a local dentist or any local business that people walk into that’s staffed. You know?

Jesse:               I agree.

Len:                 Well, sounds good. Well, thanks for coming on and we will talk at you some more later.

Jesse:               All right. Sounds good. Thanks, Len.

Len:                 All right. Bye.


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