Social Media: Where Are Your Customers Conversing?

Yosemite Valley


With the growth of social media, small business owners face new challenges in terms of locating their clients/customers.  Added to this is the fact that recent estimates show that 80% of people who have access to the Internet start their search via the Web, not via printed media (e.g. Yellow Pages or newspapers).

One of the key learnings for me in small business marketing was to learn to focus on my customers/clients.  This meant getting to know their demographic, their interests and needs and what appeals emotionally to them.

Now that social media has expanded rapidly, the nature of “word-of- mouth” recommendation has changed drastically also.  Are your products being recommended by others on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Squidoo or LinkedIn?

One of the keys to small business marketing online is getting to know where your customers are carrying on their conversations and joining them there.  For instance, since one of our client groups is professional public sector managers, we have found that they can be reached via LinkedIn.  The secret is to “get in front of the online conversation”.

One way to do this is to join social media sites and monitor what is going on in relation to your niche.  Another way is to use Google Alerts (via your Google account) to check on what is happening in relation to your niche and your business (name).   This will pick up who is saying “what” about you and your niche and where this is being said.   This is an aspect of reputation management as well as direct small business marketing online.

With your customers/clients spending so much time on social media, can you afford to ignore it?

Photo Source:



To learn to master social media, check out my Social Media Marketing Training:

Turn Photos into Video to Promote Your Small Business


One of the easiest ways to market your small business is to turn your photos into video.  You must have lots of photos lying around that you can use for this purpose.  However, if you want to make the most of this highly effective marketing option, you can be more deliberate about what photos you take and the videos you create.

The program I have used over the last few years for turning photos into video is called Animoto which is an online service that is spectacularly easy to use.

Animoto uses the very latest in cinematography to produce stunning videos that you can upload to your blog/website, YouTube or any other video hosting site.   You can use the video to promote your small business and/or your services and products.  The online program uses state-of-the-art cinematography to create a video from images, video clips and music.  So you end up with an animated musical video created from your photos.

The steps are quite simple to turn photos into video:

  1. upload images to Animoto
  2. identify the two or three images you want to highlight
  3. decide what music track you want (yours or theirs)
  4. press “create video”
  5. upload video to your computer and/or YouTube (press a button)
  6. press remix as often as you like to make alternative videos
  7. admire your handywork.


You can adopt a number of strategies for your small business video marketing.

1. Create an eye-catching video from your photos:

This is illustrated by the rainforest video at the end of this paragraph.  Here you are simply creating an attractive video that people like to watch (e.g. some holiday snaps).  Your aim is to redirect the traffic from the video site (e.g. YouTube, Facebook or Flickr) to your website or blog.  The rainforest video has attracted nearly 3,000 views on YouTube (and many more elsewhere).  A number of people have placed the video on their own websites as well:

2. Produce a video about your small business and your staff

Animoto is great for this because you can add text to the video that you create from your photos.  You can also splice in 30 second videos created elsewhere.  Here’s an illustration of what I have created to promote our own business, Merit Solutions Australia:

3. Promote your local area

There are stats that show most small businesses generate up to 80% of their business from their local area.  So a video highlighting your town or city can attract the attention of residents as well as potential tourists.  You are then able to reinforce the fact that your business is local.  The following video was taken during a holiday but it could be used to promote your local business if you lived in the beachside town of Mooloolaba:

Animoto offers both free and paid versions of their program.  The free version allows you to create as many 30 second videos as you want (for non-commercial use).  A very cheap option allows you make as many non-commercial videos as you want of any length (you are not restricted to 30 seconds).  The paid or business option includes unlimited videos of any length as well as the production of high definition versions of your videos.

This can be an exciting area of small business marketing because you can combine your love of photography with promoting your business.  I frequently take photos on my holidays and business trips to use in videos that I create to promote my small business.   Animoto opens up a whole creative world and makes it easy for you to turn photos into video.

Are Your Listings in Local Business Directories Accurate?

I was checking the search results for my business name, Merit Solutions Australia, in Google and was surprised with the results from local business directories.

A lot of the entries in the first two pages of Google results were listings from local business directories.

These directories create business listings (much like Google and Facebook have done recently) by scraping content from the Internet.  The only problem with the local business directories, as I found, is that a lot of the information is incorrect (because it is out of date).

So I noticed that while local business directories had eight (8) of the listings in the first two pages of Google results, most of them had inaccurate information – wrong address, phone numbers or business categories.

So I set about correcting these entries.  Most of the listings are free, so all you need to do is go to the site and claim your listing and update it.  Some allow you to add your logo and images, so it is well worth the effort to get accurate and comprehensive information about your business on the first two pages of Google results for searches on your business name.

Some of the local business directories also offer “premium” or paid listings – but you need to evaluate these offers in the light of the ranking of the site, the potential additional traffic and the added value in terms of potential increased sales.

An added benefit of listings in local business directories is that these sites often have high page rank – in other words, Google values their content and gives them high ranking in search results.  This means that your listings create quality backlinks to your site and thus add value to your own website/blog. One of the key local directories is which has a Page Rank of 6 and is ranked (in terms of traffic) in the top 6,000 sites in the world.

So whatever you do, make sure your listings in local business directories are accurate.

Small Business Marketing: A Personal Odyssey

Human Resource Consultancy

Our small business was created in 1996 and following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, we found that we had to become actively engaged in online small business marketing.

Up until the GFC, our gross income had been growing at around 20% per year and we did not have to actively market our small business.  Most business arrived by word of mouth through the professional services provided by our HR consultants.

However, with the GFC, our business income dropped by 50% in six months.  So we had to look at ways to improve the income from our small business.

We decided to do three core things:

  1. expand our service offerings (e.g. include training)
  2. broaden our client base
  3. actively engage in online marketing for our small business


In 2010, we engaged Anne Corcino to redesign our static website into a dynamic WordPress website.  Anne’s website services are offered through her small business, SEO Praxis.

The new website design became a real platform for our online small business marketing.  Our HR consultants were proud of our site and our clients were suitably impressed.  Because the site was built on a WordPress platform, it has SEO embedded and is easy to update and add value.  Our RSS feed from the blog is an important aspect of our marketing.

What I will report here is my own experiences and ideas in marketing our small business.  So this blog is very much my small business odyssey – my journey into the challenges of small business marketing.