5 things you didn't know about yelpEstablished in the year 2004, Yelp has grown to become one of the leading websites for customer reviews, and helps people to spot the best local businesses such as restaurants, hair stylists, dentists, mechanics, and much more. The review writers or Yelpers have offered over 36 million reviews so far. In addition to the reviews, lists and events are provided as well, and visitors are allowed to discuss with the Yelpers to get answers to their queries.

Despite the fact that Yelp is one of the most popular sites, there are certain things that many don’t know yet. Some of these include:

Sizeable traffic from the home page: Similar to other social media platforms, Yelp too favors mobile and enjoys about 78 million visitors to its home page each month. While the majority of the search results are from desktops, over 7 million people are mobile users, and the trend over the next few years is going to favor mobile and smartphone users.

Feedbacks and customer reviews: Yelp discourages businesses to coerce customers to post reviews. Rather, it emphasizes the importance of making the customers aware. In fact, according to a Yelp research, businesses that provide top-notch customer service stand the highest chance to acquire a 5 star rating. In general, a business review is more likely to get a 5 star review rather than just a single star. However, since customer service is of prime importance, more than 70% of businesses without proper customer services have been trashed by reviewers and received just a single star rating.

Free signage via Flickr: Despite discouraging businesses from coercing customers to write reviews, Yelp encourages more delicate means of persuasion. Many don’t know that Yelp provides downloadable signage via a Flickr stream. You can also leverage Yelp by using a Yelp link on your business cards and in your email signatures.

Boost revenues but not much effective for chains: Studies have shown that high Yelp rankings give a boost to revenues by as much as 5 to 9%. However, Yelp tends to support independent businesses, and has statistically insignificant effect on chains.

Disputing reviews on Yelp: Many business owners do nothing when a string of negative reviews trash their business on Yelp, as they believe that they can’t change the situation. But the reality is quite different. In fact, you can dispute such reviews on Yelp and if the need arises, the reviewers may be made answerable to you (the business owner).  However, Yelp cautions against businesses that plan to give legal threats and talk about filing lawsuits against such negative and unreasonable reviews as such actions would cost a lot of money, effort, and time, and may ultimately not help much. Yelp stresses the fact that its review filters are on the prowl and bogus reviews have a high chance of being taken down in the long run.

So, while formulating your Yelp strategy, keep these lesser known factors in mind to benefit from Yelp listings the most.

Comparing top social media sitesDid you know that over 900 million users around the world use Facebook, which is closely followed by Twitter (555 million) and YouTube with a viewer base of 490 million? Google+ ((170 million), LinkedIn (150 million), Pinterest (11.7 million), Tumblr and Digg come next in the list.

When you consider monthly visits on top social networking g sites, Facebook with 7012.9 million is the leader, followed by Twitter (182 million), Google+ ((61 million), LinkedIn (85.7 million), Pinterest (104.4 million).

When it comes to the male-female ratio, women are found to be more active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, where the ratio is pegged in their favor at 60% (against 40% of males), 57% (against 43% of males), and 68.2% (against 31.8% of males) respectively. 63% of males use Google+ against 37% of females, while for LinkedIn, the male-female ratio stands at 55%-45%. The sex ratio of users for Digg is 60-40 in favor of males. 

Comparison based on age demographics

Social networking sites

13-17 years

18-25 years

26-34 years

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While Tumblr is good for reaching out to people belonging to the 18-34 years’ age group, Digg users mostly belong to the age group of 21-34 years, with a few belonging to the age group of 14-21 years.

With such statistics, it is obvious that you ask questions regarding the disparity in user stats amongst these social media platforms. In order to understand why one particular social networking site is more popular than the other, it is important to understand the basic aspects of each site and compare it with the other. Here is a brief comparison of these social networking platforms that is aimed at giving you an idea of how things work with a hope that it helps you choose the best one for your needs.

Overview of top social media platforms

Before choosing a social media platform to meet your business needs, it is important to understand the different and popular platforms and how they differ. The most popular platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Digg, Tumblr and YouTube. Here is a brief overview of all the platforms.

Facebook: If you are looking for brand exposure and building customer relations, this the perfect social media platform. Here you can create your own profile, exchange messages and stay updated on the recent happenings. However, the only drawback is the fact that this site is not SEO friendly, largely because Google does not consider Facebook shares as a separate part of their ranking algorithm. However, this does not mean that you cannot make Facebook SEO friendly. Choosing an appropriate page name and using keyword rich content in your About Us and information sections, can definitely add SEO value to your page.

Twitter: If you are looking for ways to respond to your customers quickly, Twitter is your best friend. However, given that most people tend to abuse such instantaneous means of communication, there is a large follower drop out issue that comes hand in hand with this site. . This is largely because the website is extremely strict against spammers and data inconsistencies. 

Pinterest: This social photo sharing site has steadily gained followers and you too can use its virtual pinboard service to grab eyeballs on the World Wide Web. Some recent statistics have shown that 72% to an astounding 97% of its user base is female. So, businesses targeting females can definitely use this site to their advantage.

LinkedIn: This site displays an almost even ratio of female and male users, who use it to connect with peers and other business professionals. Many companies these days even use this site to hire new employees or do some research on their prospective candidates before offering them a position.

Google+: Although a recent addition, this is a great place to interact with your customers. However, the only drawback is that not many people are onto this networking platform, which could make it difficult for you to reach a wide clientele base.

YouTube: If you are seeking promotion through video blogs or tutorials etc, this is the perfect way to reach out to your customer base. However, you might find it difficult to direct traffic back to your website from this site. However, you can always use the annotation feature in YouTube to add a call for action button, directing your viewers to go to your website. Interlinking your videos on YouTube with some annotations is the only way you can easily direct traffic from your video to your site.

Tumblr: This is a great site if you are planning on reaching out to the 18 and 34 year old demographic. This site is even good if you wish to reach out to people under the age of 18. 

Digg: This is excellent for brand exposure but not so good for customer interaction.

How to begin

When comparing different social media platforms for your business, it is equally important to understand how to begin each journey. Given that each social media platform is different from the other, it is obvious that each website will have its own set of do’s and don'ts to follow.

Similarly, it is equally obvious that each site will have its own set of lingo and jargon that you need to know and understand before attempting any successful social media intervention. However, most sites have their own tutorials and guides that will help you in this regard.

Understanding the value of each social media platform is extremely essential before going onto using it for your business. This brief comparison is primarily aimed at helping you develop that basic understanding. Undoubtedly, identifying your needs, in terms of what social media intervention you require, is the basis to successful marketing campaigns.

content-marketing-strategyIf your existing content on your website isn’t bringing you the desired results, it’s time to overhaul it by considering the following tips:

Be present without being present: Many companies use every chance that an article, infographics, video, or other content gives them, to position their brand and drum up publicity for their offerings. If you too have been doing the same, it’s time to get out of the picture. Remember that your content needs to offer solutions to your customers’ problems and engage them by providing informative news and data to build trust and earn their respect. Since all your content will ultimately be found on your site and social spaces controlled by you, it’s assumed that people will identify them with your brand and products/services.

Give stuff away for free: Freebies are always lapped up by netizens. Why don’t you create an e-book, infographics, or organize a short webinar and let people on your subscriber’s list enjoy them for free? Just make sure to use interesting content for these to entice people into checking your website and offerings as you never know how and when a prospect can get converted into a customer.

Create podcasts: If you have been uploading videos on YouTube until now, it’s time to tread bigger grounds by creating your own podcasts, which you can distribute online. These podcasts could be about your product details, or tips and tricks to help customers’ solve everyday problems. You may even use them as a publicity tool for your upcoming training session/product launch/e-book. If you keep a balance between promotional and useful content, such podcasts can help you connect with your audience and win their trust.

Say it with pictures: If you know about Pinterest, perhaps you understand how effective pictures can be. Taking a cue from this site, you can use videos, images, infographics, slideshows, photo galleries etc along with your content to make the words and their impact more powerful.

Make your content smart-device friendly: As more and more people read content on their smartphones, it becomes important to make your site mobile-friendly and do away with heavy graphics that take a lot of time to load. After all, you don’t want to drive away your readers just because your site takes forever to display its contents.

Divide lengthy content into small chunks: If you plan to upload large chunks of information, articles etc, it would be better to divide them into smaller pieces and publish them over a period of time so that it becomes easy to access and read them on smartphones and other mobile devices. 

Give your old content a new twist: If you have old content that still holds true in today’s world and can do better with a fresh twist or tweak, don’t shy away from repackaging and republishing it. 

The key is offer your readers and site visitors something new, informative, and refreshing on a regular basis to make them come back for more. So, overhaul your content marketing campaign accordingly to reap the benefits.

Social Marketing for small businessesIf you want to create your business presence online, engage with existing and potential customers, enhance your reputation, and drive referrals via word of mouth publicity without spending a lot of money, social media marketing is your best bet. A careful study of the World Wide Web reveals that brands that target three strategies namely personality, passion, and transparency – either each as a separate entity, or in combination with the others, do great when it comes to making people sit up and take notice. Here’s an overview of how you too can benefit from them:

Personality: Your brand should have its own traits, which would help it to carve a niche of its own. Take the Skittles page on Facebook where you can find funny updates like ‘A world without Skittles would be like a circus without clowns if clowns fit in your hand, didn't squirm so much, and were delicious.' With such whimsical, and funny updates, this brand has already created a steady fan following and is working to bring all its social media marketing efforts (on other mediums like Twitter, Google+ etc) geared towards building a common brand personality.  

Passion: If you can link your business to something that your targeted clientele is passionate about, marketing on those lines will help you emerge as the favorite choice of your potential customers. A case study could be to consider how Red Bull markets itself on Facebook. Agreed that energy drinks are difficult to connect to a passion but this company, which boasts of the tagline - Red Bull gives wings to people who want to be mentally and physically active and have a zest for life, has done it successfully. In line with its functional beverage that is promoted to encourage daring feats, its Facebook page depicts a young person with a snowboard. The message that this is a drink for youngsters and people who love to enjoy extreme outdoor activities is loud and clear. Similarly, if you are into the food business, you can post recipes and food tidbits to encourage your novice fans to interact and check their own cooking skills, while posting some challenging tasks or food related contests for the seasoned ones.

Transparency: This is a stand taken by many major IT companies like Google, IBM, and Microsoft. You can also find some financial institutions and automotive companies using a transparent approach while sharing information and causes that they hold dear. Such strategy is likely to work best for categories and brands where the customers are serious about the information they yearn for, but are not necessarily enthusiastic about it. While deciding your company’s overall positioning strategy, you should remember that transparent brands are those that talk about the activities and other stuff they are doing in the real world. Thus, transparent brands actually perform the activities, unlike passion brands that associate themselves with certain activities.

So, decide which category your business belongs to, or what blend of the above will suit your business to plan your social marketing strategy accordingly.

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