Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Comparison of Social Media, Part 4: Internet Directories

This the final part of our series comparing the different major social media sites. Today's blog post is about Internet Directories.

Internet Directories

Internet directories are searchable online collections of businesses, organized by industry and location. Usually these directories include a rating and review system where users can share their experience with a specific business. They are also location specific and provide maps of businesses. Many directories offer the ability to "check-in" at a location using GPS information on your mobile device, this will share with social networks that you are at their business and shows the popularity of the location.

 Yelp

  • Yelp is the largest, most widely used directory
  • Yelp is primarily used for their ratings (out of 5 stars) and reviews, so users can see if other people have had a positive or negative experience, before deciding to try out a business
  • Yelp applies a filter to their reviews to try and remove any reviews with bad information or are suspected of being falsified
    • How the filter works is a secret, so that no one can abuse the system, but active users that post a lot of strong reviews are unlikely to be filtered
  • Restaurants are probably the largest sector on Yelp, but they also have many other industries including Spas/Salons, Home Services, Health, Professional Services, etc.
  • Users can connect with friends on Yelp, with their Facebook accounts, and also check-in using Yelp
  • Yelp lists basic information for businesses, which anyone can request edits to and upload photos
    • Owners can also claim and verify their business page to get access to usage statistics and send direct messages to reviewers
    • Additional paid business solutions include ads which appear on Yelp search and competitors' pages, buttons that allow users to easily perform an action like making an appointment, coupons & gift certificates, and special deals for checking-in
  • Users will often complain about negative experiences on Yelp. If and how the business responds is huge in how the business' service is perceived.

 Foursquare

  • Foursquare is primarily focused on the mobile "check-in" feature
  • Foursquare has similarities to a game in that users try to reach goals for check-ins at different locations, types of locations, and number of check-ins
  • Business listings provide basic information, users can also add pictures, rate (on a scale of 10), and leave short comments
  • Users can connect with friends and share information from Foursquare on other social media
  • Solutions for claimed businesses include sharing news/updates and deals for checking-in




Google+ / Bing Places/ Yahoo Local

  • These are similar in that they are associated with the major search engines and your listings will appear specially in their searches and on their maps
  • They also offer similar features to other directories, such as reviews, ratings, pictures, business info, usage statistics, and connections to other social media and directories/ratings

 Angie's List

  • Angie's List is a directory for only service and health care industries that requires users to get a paid membership
    • Free for businesses to manage their listings
  • Subscriptions are for specific local areas only
  • Anyone can post a review, but reviewers are required to submit personal information to the website (which is not publicly displayed) so that Angie's List can verify to the business that the reviewer was a client and not an associate of the business
  • Businesses are rated on a letter grade scale, and only those with an A or B rating can post discount coupons
  • Because it is a paid service, Angie's List is primarily used for researching doctors or home improvement providers, services where clients really need to trust their providers


These are just some of the major Internet directories out there. There are many other listings and review sites. Some are industry specific, like UrbanSpoon (restaurants) and TripAdvisor (travel/hotels/restaurants). Your business information may already be listed on many directories. Which ones to use and how to use them will depend on your industry and your marketing strategy.

Thank you for reading this series! :) I had a lot of fun writing this basic intro and comparison of some of the social media tools available for businesses, and I am looking forward to writing about other Internet marketing solutions and strategies for small businesses!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Comparison of Social Media, Part 3: Media Sharing

Hello! :D Today is the third part of our series describing and comparing the major social media services. We will be talking about Media Sharing.

Media Sharing Sites

Media sharing sites are websites where users can upload images and videos to share with others, and where they can view content from other people. You can also connect and communicate with friends, like networking sites, and connect your media sharing accounts to your social network accounts. Additionally, networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ also allow you to upload pictures and videos. However, the primary purpose of the following sites is centered around the displaying and sharing of images and video.

 YouTube

  • The premiere and most popular by far video sharing and viewing site
  • Part of the Google network - video ads often play before the video you want to watch
  • Users will watch, share, and follow users and videos that are funny, interesting, or informative

 Instagram

  • The most popular photo sharing site
  • Requires a mobile phone with the app to take and share pictures
  • Also has new video recording and sharing capabilities
  • Very social - users follow one another to see pictures of their daily lives
  • Has some built-in photo editing tools

 Pinterest

  • Newer and very popular sharing site with a layout designed around pictures and videos
  • Users upload pictures or link to pictures from other websites (including blogs), these pictures are called "pins"
  • Users can then create "boards" which are collections of pins, these boards can be personal or by topic, and users can follow other boards
  • People can spend hours on Pinterest looking at pictures and following links to subjects they are personally interest in
  • Some popular topics on Pinterest are recipes, art displays, fashion trends, crafts ideas
  • Pins are often informative, as well as visually appealing
  • Pinterest is much more popular with women than men

 Vimeo

  • Vimeo is another video sharing site, like YouTube
  • Where as YouTube contains all kinds of content, Vimeo is geared toward high-quality, more professional videos, including many independent or "indie" filmmakers

 Flickr

  • Photo hosting and sharing site
  • Owned by Yahoo
  • Users can upload and display their personal photographs, and make them available for download
  • Photos are often "tagged," associating them with relevant keywords that describes the subject of the image
  • Users can then search Flickr's database for pictures relating to their search terms


These media sharing sites are great for small businesses to share beautiful creative content about their products and services.

Thank you for reading! Next time will be our final installment in this series, and we will be discussing Internet Directories. Stay tuned! :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Comparison of Social Media, Part 2: Blogging

Welcome to Part 2 of our series comparing the different types of social media and their leading sites. Today we will discuss blogs.

What is a blog?

The word 'blog' is a shortened form of the term 'web log,' so a blog is basically an online journal. Blogs are usually about specific topics, such as the daily events of the author's personal life, reviews of movies the author has seen, or updates about a business' operation. Blog entries are detailed, often including many pictures, lists, and graphics. For short news updates, it is better to use a 'microblogging' service like Twitter or Facebook status updates.

Blog readers look at blog entries to learn new information, and will use services to daily keep track of blogs that provide them with interesting articles. Popular blog entries also show up frequently in search engines when users are looking for information about a relevant subject.

Blogging Sites



 Word Press

  • Most popular blogging site
  • Very customizable - can easily produce great professional sites

 Blogger

  • A Google service, so it is easy to connect to Google+
  • Very straightforward, easy-to-use design

 Tumblr

  • More of a microblogging site, heavily graphics-based, entries usually have images and a small amount of text
  • Good for photo blogs - entries are pictures with captions

More Info About Blogs

  • Blog layouts are customizable and can include a variety of information and tools, including information about the author/company and links to other blogs/sites and to share entries on social media.
  • Apps like Feedly and Flipboard gather and organize new blog entries and news articles from subscribed sources into one easy-to-read location.
  • Some businesses even use blog as their websites, and most blogging services make it very easy to purchase a custom web address through their service.
  • Here is an example of a high-quality blog from one of our partners, Loebig Ink

Next time, Part 3: Media Sharing Sites...