Get Answers to Your Burning Questions

It used to be that all the answers to your questions could be found in online article directories. Then, when they became overrun with junk and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too arcane, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions:

  1. Opinions. Heading to San Antonio and want to know where to find authentic Tex-Mex? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your friends will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.
  2. When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your social media network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.
  3. New technology questions. Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could Google the problem, but all the answers you get are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the “Twitter-verse”, and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as a site to go to for expert help.
  4. Search engines may not help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or there are too many conflicting answers – and you’re not sure who to trust.  Sometimes, the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a small fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your network first.
  5. References and Referrals. Looking for a great handyman in Nashville can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of social media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

The post Get Answers to Your Burning Questions appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Is Social Media a Time Suck?

When many people think “social media,” the automatic response is “waste of time.” Facebook is the place you go to play Farmville while your boss isn’t looking. YouTube is where you head when you have five minutes to spare and you need a good laugh so you watch the “Jackass” video a few more times. Twitter is where you end up when you want to commiserate about the Titans latest trade decisions, or to catch up on Real Housewives of New Jersey gossip.

Is it possible that these sinkholes of productivity could actually save you time? Yes, and in this article series I’m going to show you ten ways to leverage social media to make your life better, complete your tasks more quickly, and have more time for the things that matter (like a Plants vs. Zombies marathon – just kidding!).

Read on for ways to use social media for good, not just for gossip.

#1: Connect with Customers

These days, business is all about the relationships. We buy a car from the guy our neighbor’s brother recommended. We hire the contractor our mother’s accountant used. We go see the movies that everyone on Twitter talks about. So finding ways to take business relationships beyond transactional is a sure-fire way to cement yourself in the minds of your customers.

Social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the like – are all ways to connect with people. And if you can use these tools to establish and enhance your relationships with your audience, you’ve got a leg up on your competition. Here are a few examples:

  • The yarn store owner who tweets her new customer to ask how the new sweater is coming along…
  • The car salesman who leaves a link for $10 off an oil change on a customer’s Facebook wall…
  • The homeschool curriculum vendor who records a short video showing how to set up a classroom in the home in a back bedroom…
  • The golf instructor who holds a Skype party during the Masters…

The possibilities are as vast as the world of Internet business. You will notice some similarities between the ideas above:

  1. They’re relevant. They are directly applicable to the niche or industry you’re in (the golf instructor, for instance, isn’t sending out oil change coupons; the yarn store owner isn’t hosting a Masters chat).
  2. They’re personal. Each interaction connects with the audience in a manner beyond a simple “buy my stuff” way.
  3. They’re useful. Each interaction provides value to the recipient. In some cases, it’s a dollar savings (the coupon); in others, it’s informational (the video and the sweater inquiry). And even the Skype party is useful in terms of entertainment. The recipient is better off for having taken part in the interaction.
  4. They’re free. They don’t cost anything on the part of the person reaching out.
  5. They’re relatively low on the time-investment scale. A tweet or Facebook post takes seconds; the video, a bit longer, but actually saves time in the long run as the vendor is answering a question she receives over and over again. The Skype party takes place during an event the golf instructor was going to watch anyway.

In short, social media provides ways to reach your customers on an intimate level, quickly and inexpensively. People want to be treated as individuals, not as numbers. And social media provides a way to do that without spending your life on the phone.

The post Is Social Media a Time Suck? appeared first on Ken Ivey.

How to Set Up a Google Plus Local Review in 5 Easy Steps

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google Plus

Worried about the sudden changes Google has made to Google Places?  Wondering how the new Google Plus Local format will affect those all-important business reviews?  Well, you can relax.  Google Plus Local is actually a great change – and one that will enable customers to leave even more comprehensive, detailed, and accurate reviews than before.  What’s more is that Google has made the whole process super simple, even for those completely unfamiliar with the Google Plus user interface.  Want the details?  Here are instructions for how to set up a Google Plus Local review in five easy steps:

Create a Google Plus account.  You must have your own Google Plus account in order to leave reviews.  However, you can now leave reviews from either a personal Google Plus profile or a business Google Plus page account.

Visit the Google Plus Local page of the business you want to review.  This is simple: log in to your Google Plus account and search the left hand side of the screen for a vertical tab menu.  See the “Local” tab?  Click on that to access the Google Plus Local search.  Once you are on the appropriate page, you click on the “Write a Review” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Rate the business.  The new Google Plus Local rating system – called the Zagat scale – will ask that you rate the business from 0 to 3 on a number of different aspects related to the particular business you are reviewing (food and service categories when grading restaurants, for example).  The numbers you enter are then calculated according to the Zagat scale formula in order to deliver an overall rating of 0 to 30.  This score is also broken down into specific categories so that page visitors can accurately assess different aspects of the business – including its strengths and weaknesses.

Write a review.  Underneath the Zagat scale rating section is a text box in which you can write your business review.  Take your time and be sure to provide plenty of detail, as well as specific tips and suggestions you would recommend potential customers follow when dealing with the business.  Also, be sure to go over your review once you’ve finished it, in order to add any missed information and edit mistakes.

Publish your review.  Once you are sure that you have rated and reviewed the business to your satisfaction, it is time to publish the review.  Click on the “Publish” button underneath the review text box to publish it to the business’ Google Plus Local page.  The review will be listed under your profile, and anyone who sees the review, including the business itself, will be able to check out your profile page.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post How to Set Up a Google Plus Local Review in 5 Easy Steps appeared first on Ken Ivey.

How to Set Up a Google Plus Local Review in 5 Easy Steps

[box color=”green-mute” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Google Plus

Worried about the sudden changes Google has made to Google Places?  Wondering how the new Google Plus Local format will affect those all-important business reviews?  Well, you can relax.  Google Plus Local is actually a great change – and one that will enable customers to leave even more comprehensive, detailed, and accurate reviews than before.  What’s more is that Google has made the whole process super simple, even for those completely unfamiliar with the Google Plus user interface.  Want the details?  Here are instructions for how to set up a Google Plus Local review in five easy steps:

Create a Google Plus account.  You must have your own Google Plus account in order to leave reviews.  However, you can now leave reviews from either a personal Google Plus profile or a business Google Plus page account.

Visit the Google Plus Local page of the business you want to review.  This is simple: log in to your Google Plus account and search the left hand side of the screen for a vertical tab menu.  See the “Local” tab?  Click on that to access the Google Plus Local search.  Once you are on the appropriate page, you click on the “Write a Review” button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Rate the business.  The new Google Plus Local rating system – called the Zagat scale – will ask that you rate the business from 0 to 3 on a number of different aspects related to the particular business you are reviewing (food and service categories when grading restaurants, for example).  The numbers you enter are then calculated according to the Zagat scale formula in order to deliver an overall rating of 0 to 30.  This score is also broken down into specific categories so that page visitors can accurately assess different aspects of the business – including its strengths and weaknesses.

Write a review.  Underneath the Zagat scale rating section is a text box in which you can write your business review.  Take your time and be sure to provide plenty of detail, as well as specific tips and suggestions you would recommend potential customers follow when dealing with the business.  Also, be sure to go over your review once you’ve finished it, in order to add any missed information and edit mistakes.

Publish your review.  Once you are sure that you have rated and reviewed the business to your satisfaction, it is time to publish the review.  Click on the “Publish” button underneath the review text box to publish it to the business’ Google Plus Local page.  The review will be listed under your profile, and anyone who sees the review, including the business itself, will be able to check out your profile page.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit https://kenivey.com for details.

The post How to Set Up a Google Plus Local Review in 5 Easy Steps appeared first on Ken Ivey.

The 5 Most Asked Questions about Google Places

[box color=”green-vibrant” type=”round” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Google Places Business Listing

Lately, there is a lot of talk about Google Places – Google’s newest web offering that seems to be revolutionizing the way businesses reach customers and market online.  If you are responsible for marketing for a business, then you simply cannot afford to miss out on all the talk.  That is because Google Places can be one of the most powerful tools you have when it comes to establishing a strong business presence on the Internet.  Interested in knowing more, but not even sure where to start?  Check out these five most asked questions about Google Places:

How does Google Places help people find my business?  Google is the number one search engine in the entire world-wide web, encompassing a network of web-based applications (like Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Voice, and Google Directory Search) and other partner websites.  When you set up your Google Places listing, your business becomes a part of that network.  That means that any time someone uses Google to search for either your specific business name/location, or even for a business category related to yours in your area, your business listing is likely to appear in the return results across the entire Google network.

How can I make the most of my Google Places listing?  First of all, make sure that it has a score of 100 percent (based partly on completeness).  Also, upload as many photos/videos as Google will allow, encourage customers to post reviews, and employ search engine optimization (SEO) strategies when writing your Places page content.

How do I get a Google Places listing?  Start by creating a (free!) Google account.  Then visit the Google Places homepage and click on the “add business” option to claim your business location.  Once you have submitted all of your information, you will have to verify your business by providing a valid telephone number or document, and then wait for Google to publish your listing.

What will it cost to use Google Places?  Google Places listings, and every feature that comes with your Google Places pages, are absolutely free.

Is it possible to advertise my Google Places page on Google?  Yes, Google has made it simple and easy to advertise for Google Places using Google Adwords Express.  Access Adwords Express through your Google Places account page.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit https://kenivey.com for details.

The post The 5 Most Asked Questions about Google Places appeared first on Ken Ivey.

The 5 Most Asked Questions about Google Places

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Google Places Business Listing

Lately, there is a lot of talk about Google Places – Google’s newest web offering that seems to be revolutionizing the way businesses reach customers and market online.  If you are responsible for marketing for a business, then you simply cannot afford to miss out on all the talk.  That is because Google Places can be one of the most powerful tools you have when it comes to establishing a strong business presence on the Internet.  Interested in knowing more, but not even sure where to start?  Check out these five most asked questions about Google Places:

How does Google Places help people find my business?  Google is the number one search engine in the entire world-wide web, encompassing a network of web-based applications (like Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Voice, and Google Directory Search) and other partner websites.  When you set up your Google Places listing, your business becomes a part of that network.  That means that any time someone uses Google to search for either your specific business name/location, or even for a business category related to yours in your area, your business listing is likely to appear in the return results across the entire Google network.

How can I make the most of my Google Places listing?  First of all, make sure that it has a score of 100 percent (based partly on completeness).  Also, upload as many photos/videos as Google will allow, encourage customers to post reviews, and employ search engine optimization (SEO) strategies when writing your Places page content.

How do I get a Google Places listing?  Start by creating a (free!) Google account.  Then visit the Google Places homepage and click on the “add business” option to claim your business location.  Once you have submitted all of your information, you will have to verify your business by providing a valid telephone number or document, and then wait for Google to publish your listing.

What will it cost to use Google Places?  Google Places listings, and every feature that comes with your Google Places pages, are absolutely free.

Is it possible to advertise my Google Places page on Google?  Yes, Google has made it simple and easy to advertise for Google Places using Google Adwords Express.  Access Adwords Express through your Google Places account page.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post The 5 Most Asked Questions about Google Places appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Why Having Your Business on Google Places is So Important

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

Yellow Pages Dead

Does your business have a Google Places listing?  If you answered “no,” then you need to get on the task of setting up your Google Places listing, and right now.  There are a number of very compelling reasons to include Google Places as an integral part of your business marketing plan.  If you need some convincing, then you should look over this list of reasons for why having your business on Google Places is so important:

The Yellow Pages is obsolete.  Studies show that 97 percent of all consumers use the Internet to search for and choose local businesses.  Most of those people haven’t touched a Yellow Pages book for years.  Look at it this way: if 97 percent of your potential customers are searching the web for businesses just like yours and you are not there, you are missing out – plain and simple.

Your Places listing will work for you, even when you are sleeping.  The Internet never sleeps, and your page is always accessible to potential customers, even long after you shut-down your shop.  You can even link your Google Places page to your website, so that customers can make transactions while you catch your Z’s.

Branding.  Google Places is especially effective when it comes to your business branding (which, in today’s market, is essential to your business’ success).  By uploading photos and videos, and customizing your content to speak for your unique niche, you can go a long way in strengthening your brand.

Reaching your target market.  You can create content for your Google Places listing that speaks specifically to your target market, and then count on the Google search engine to deliver targeted traffic straight to your virtual-reality door.  There are very few types of advertising that enable you to reach exactly who you want to by means that are within your control, and Google Places is one of them.

Google Places is free advertising.  Regardless of how successful your business is, you have a business budget . . . and you simply cannot argue that many of your business choices come down to the bottom line.  Unless you have a limitless marketing budget (and who does?!), you need all the free help you can get.  It just doesn’t make any sense not to take advantage of such a powerful marketing tool when it won’t cost you a single cent to get involved.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post Why Having Your Business on Google Places is So Important appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Why Having Your Business on Google Places is So Important

[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”square” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

Yellow Pages Dead

Does your business have a Google Places listing?  If you answered “no,” then you need to get on the task of setting up your Google Places listing, and right now.  There are a number of very compelling reasons to include Google Places as an integral part of your business marketing plan.  If you need some convincing, then you should look over this list of reasons for why having your business on Google Places is so important:

The Yellow Pages is obsolete.  Studies show that 97 percent of all consumers use the Internet to search for and choose local businesses.  Most of those people haven’t touched a Yellow Pages book for years.  Look at it this way: if 97 percent of your potential customers are searching the web for businesses just like yours and you are not there, you are missing out – plain and simple.

Your Places listing will work for you, even when you are sleeping.  The Internet never sleeps, and your page is always accessible to potential customers, even long after you shut-down your shop.  You can even link your Google Places page to your website, so that customers can make transactions while you catch your Z’s.

Branding.  Google Places is especially effective when it comes to your business branding (which, in today’s market, is essential to your business’ success).  By uploading photos and videos, and customizing your content to speak for your unique niche, you can go a long way in strengthening your brand.

Reaching your target market.  You can create content for your Google Places listing that speaks specifically to your target market, and then count on the Google search engine to deliver targeted traffic straight to your virtual-reality door.  There are very few types of advertising that enable you to reach exactly who you want to by means that are within your control, and Google Places is one of them.

Google Places is free advertising.  Regardless of how successful your business is, you have a business budget . . . and you simply cannot argue that many of your business choices come down to the bottom line.  Unless you have a limitless marketing budget (and who does?!), you need all the free help you can get.  It just doesn’t make any sense not to take advantage of such a powerful marketing tool when it won’t cost you a single cent to get involved.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit https://kenivey.com for details.

The post Why Having Your Business on Google Places is So Important appeared first on Ken Ivey.

5 Essential Components of a Good Google Places Listing

UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.

internet marketing

Google Places can be an invaluable marketing tool for your business, no matter how big or small it is.  As a matter of fact, studies show that over 97 percent of all consumers looking for a local business use a search engine like Google to find it.  If you want to take advantage of this massive market, then you need to have a Google Places listing.  However, it is also important that you optimize your listing in order to reap the full array of benefits offered by Google Places.  How do you do this?  You start with a complete and detailed listing.  Here are five essential components of a good Google Places listing:

Your Google Places score.  Google scores your Places listing – up to a 100 percent – based on how complete your listing is.  Ensure yourself a top spot in the Google rankings by scoring a 100 percent on your Google Places listing.  This means putting information about your business in every single blank in your listing information.

Photos and videos.  Google Places allows you to upload images and videos to your listing.  You should upload as many as Google will allow for, as studies show that Internet users are more responsive to images and videos than they are to textual content.

Positive business reviews.  Encourage your satisfied customers to write reviews for your Google Places listing, so that people evaluating your business for the first time – going solely on your Google places listing – will be more likely to choose you over the competition.

Keywords.  Using keyword-rich content in the body of your business listing information will improve your listing’s SEO and ultimately get it ranked higher in the search engine results.  Take some time to research strong keyword phrases, and be careful not to overuse them.  Consult with an SEO professional if you need help in this regard, as using keywords appropriately can be a bit tricky.

Third-party directory listings.  If you are not taking advantage of third-party directories, you should be.  Sites like Bing, Yelp, Yahoo! Local Business, and Foursquare actually link back to your Google Places listing and can therefore get it ranked considerably higher on Google search engine results.  These business directories are free to use, and are an integral part of the overall success of your business’ Google Places listing.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit http://kenivey.com for details.

The post 5 Essential Components of a Good Google Places Listing appeared first on Ken Ivey.

5 Essential Components of a Good Google Places Listing

[box color=”blue-vibrant” type=”square” icon=”caution”]UPDATE: Google is now merging Maps, Places and Google+ into what they’re calling “Google+ Local”, so all features can be found in one place.[/box]

internet marketing

Google Places can be an invaluable marketing tool for your business, no matter how big or small it is.  As a matter of fact, studies show that over 97 percent of all consumers looking for a local business use a search engine like Google to find it.  If you want to take advantage of this massive market, then you need to have a Google Places listing.  However, it is also important that you optimize your listing in order to reap the full array of benefits offered by Google Places.  How do you do this?  You start with a complete and detailed listing.  Here are five essential components of a good Google Places listing:

Your Google Places score.  Google scores your Places listing – up to a 100 percent – based on how complete your listing is.  Ensure yourself a top spot in the Google rankings by scoring a 100 percent on your Google Places listing.  This means putting information about your business in every single blank in your listing information.

Photos and videos.  Google Places allows you to upload images and videos to your listing.  You should upload as many as Google will allow for, as studies show that Internet users are more responsive to images and videos than they are to textual content.

Positive business reviews.  Encourage your satisfied customers to write reviews for your Google Places listing, so that people evaluating your business for the first time – going solely on your Google places listing – will be more likely to choose you over the competition.

Keywords.  Using keyword-rich content in the body of your business listing information will improve your listing’s SEO and ultimately get it ranked higher in the search engine results.  Take some time to research strong keyword phrases, and be careful not to overuse them.  Consult with an SEO professional if you need help in this regard, as using keywords appropriately can be a bit tricky.

Third-party directory listings.  If you are not taking advantage of third-party directories, you should be.  Sites like Bing, Yelp, Yahoo! Local Business, and Foursquare actually link back to your Google Places listing and can therefore get it ranked considerably higher on Google search engine results.  These business directories are free to use, and are an integral part of the overall success of your business’ Google Places listing.

Take advantage of everything Google+ Local has to offer! Visit https://kenivey.com for details.

The post 5 Essential Components of a Good Google Places Listing appeared first on Ken Ivey.

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Client Love

"As a small business owner, I knew how critical visibility on the web was, but didn't know where to start. Ken Ivey at MidTN Technology worked with me to upgrade my website... and taught me many ways I could get my business noticed on the internet - that I didn't know existed. I fully recommend MidTN Technology for not only the expertise, but also for the personal service and professionalism."

Kathy Fix, President, Staging Dreams, Murfreesboro, TN