Posted by & in category Internet Marketing.

If you are a small business owner, chances are you have no idea if your business is listed correctly in most of the online directories available. In a recent survey from SinglePlatform, a division of Constant Contact®, Inc., 49 percent of local businesses admitted having never updated their online listings, whether on a search engine, review site, or mobile app.

If you are a brick and mortar store, equate that to operating your business without any signage and hoping people will find you. It is just as crucial for small businesses to list their information, products, services, menus and payment methods online as more consumers use these directories and mobile apps to make purchase decisions. Like most small business owners, keeping your online information up to date is difficult due to time and resource constraints, however, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your listings properly reflect vital information such as your address, phone number, business hours and special promotions.

The first step is to assess how people are finding your business online by analyzing referrals in your site analytics. If you don’t have an analytics program, visit analytics.google.com and sign up for free. As soon as you create your business account, you can request the analytics code from Google and forward to your site administrator to place on your site. By looking at the referral sources to your site, you can see the driving sources where visitors have found you.

Next, review the top five to ten sources to see how your current listing appears. You’ll also be able to see if your business has been reviewed and what customers and visitors are saying about your business. Take the time to make any necessary updates and familiarize yourself with the process and time it takes to make the updates.

The third step is deciding who will continue to update your business listings. If you are not comfortable in doing this yourself because of time or technology restraints, consider other options including employees, an outside digital firm or freelancer or third-party paid provider such as SinglePlatform or yext that enable businesses to update listings from one place. Whatever you decide in either terms of time or investment, keeping your business listing up to date will pay off in terms of visibility and added marketing exposure.
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Posted by & in category Social Media.

When I first saw this story on Inside Edition, my first thought was “this is ridiculous”. I even commented to my husband that had this board not had a white background it would probably have gone unnoticed. And now, a copywriter who publishes the VerdantMug Tumblr noticed that within the billboard’s copy, Hitler’s name — in order — is spelled out. I’m positive that Michael Graves had no intention of ever designing a kettle that looked like Hitler, but thanks to social media, his cool creation is now off the shelves at JCPenney. Like they needed any more bad publicity as well!

Had this appeared in Grand Rapids, Michigan versus Culver City, California, would it have caused such a ruckus? Whether or not a disgruntled creative director/art director intentionally created the board, we’ll never know. The most telling outcome of this graphic fiasco is the power of social media.

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Posted by & in category Social Media.

The 2013 seasons opens to ‘in with the old and in with the new’ as Grand Rapids now boasts two outstanding farm markets. The Fulton Street Farmers Market, established in 1922, is the oldest, and the new Downtown Market, currently in its first phase, is slated to include an indoor food emporium, a sit-down restaurant, a brew-pub, demonstration and educational kitchens, a banquet facility.

If you’re a Grand Rapids foodie curious to find out what each market has to offer, you no longer have to wait for market days to show up. All you have to do now is go online.

When a new vendor recently came aboard, the Downtown Market announced their addition with a fun announcement video on their Facebook page. Mimi Fritz, Executive Director of the Downtown Market, states, “We see social media as part of our community building process. Social media platforms allow us to engage directly with the people who will be our patrons and create long-term relationships with them.” With the Downtown Market being new to Grand Rapids, Fritz sees the need to create as many ‘ambassadors’ and local enthusiasts as possible. States Fritz, “Posting images, news items and updates brings people along in the development, makes them stakeholders and allows them to take ownership of this addition to the community.”

Melissa Harrington, Market Manager for the Fulton Street Farmers Market says that their Facebook presence is invaluable. “As a non-profit, we don’t really have the funds for traditional advertising and we have to be very frugal. Facebook is a great cost-effective vehicle that helps us keep things up in real time and receive instant feedback,” states Harrington. After a recent cold snap, one fan posted there wasn’t any asparagus that particular day. Harrington made sure the post didn’t go unheeded and responded within minutes, “We anticipated more vegetables today. Asparagus took a bit of a hit with the freeze we had the other night, but vendors have assured me they will have it back at the market as soon as they can.” She hasn’t seen a lot of action on Twitter, primarily due to the imposed tweet limitation. “It’s hard to get a recipe in under 140 characters,” says Harrington.

Another major advantage in utilizing Facebook is the online presence it provides for the farmers and seasonal vendors. Harrington says most of their farmers don’t have time to dedicate to social media and some do not even have websites, so Facebook allows them to showcase their products and farm photos and they can communicate weekly offerings to fans. The Fulton Street Farmers Market also uses a community-driven website, TheRapidian.org, to publish a list of goods to its followers each Tuesday.

As the farm-to-table movement continues to surge, social media will make the farm-to-tablet trend beneficial for farmers, vendors and consumers. For more tasty tweets, follow the markets at @dtmarketgr and @fultonstmarket .