Category Archives for "Case Study"

Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?

After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”

Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?

Didn’t think so.  Neither am I.

So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.

Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business

In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a member is like.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page

For some people though, that’s not enough.

They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”

I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.


Did they complain?

Yes, some did.

Did I add more video to my free class?

No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.

They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.

Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling

Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that is a paid service.

I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.

When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership.  I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin

In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email

Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content

I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.

The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.


Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer

There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.

Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?

Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web.  They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.

I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.

Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:

How to avoid freebie seekers

Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for

Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?

Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client

Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?

Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.

Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.

What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.

Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.

  • Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
  • Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
  • If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”

Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:

Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window

I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.

Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”


You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost.  Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.

What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:

Nov 19

How a Boston Bike Frame Brand Uses Social Media as Their Sole Means of Marketing [CASE STUDY]

By Maria Peagler

In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a local handmade bike shop uses social media exclusively to market their business. You’ll discover how they invest just an eighth of their time to make personal connections with their audience.

Case Study: Firefly Bicycles

Founded in 2011, Firefly Bicycles is based in Boston, Mass., a city known nationwide for its handmade bikes, and is one of the most well-respected small businesses in the bike frame building industry. Jamie Medeiros, Tyler Evans and Kevin Wolfson make up the Firefly team and have over 38 years of combined experience designing, crafting and fitting bikes.

Firefly Bicycles recognized that, like any audience, the cycling community was hungry for content, and that’s exactly what they deliver. They developed a plan to generate lots of high-quality content and, as a result, they’ve not only succeeded at building a deep connection with their audience, they’ve gone on to influence the cycling industry and bike culture worldwide.



Firefly Bicycles By the Numbers

  • Facebook Fans:  6,460+
  • Instagram Followers:  9,700+
  • Twitter Followers:  3,280+
  • Time Spent Weekly on Social Media:  5-7 hours

Visual Storytelling Makes for Strong Social Media Marketing



The most unique thing about the Firefly Bicycles marketing campaign is that it is executed exclusively via social media. The Firefly team is comprised of creative people, and art and design has a strong impact on their work. Since their work and process are extremely visual, Firefly uses this to their advantage when producing content to share.

Here’s how Firefly Bicycles connects with their audience and makes their mark in the cycling industry:

  • Making use of several social networks to build a strong, widespread online presence
  • Sharing photos of their process and products keep people engaged
  • Producing lots of high-quality visual content
  • Sharing relevant stories that matter to their audience

By building a presence across multiple social networks, Firefly Bicycles keeps all their bases covered and is able to continuously generate sales. Their audience gets the inside scoop on what they’re doing and their frame-building process, and they can reach far beyond the local Boston community.


They also share highlights from the past and recognize others in the industry, showing the relationships they’ve established throughout the Boston and cycling communities:



How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business

Any local business or e-commerce company can learn from Firefly Bicycles’ social media strategy to build relationships with their target audience and drive sales:

  • Produce high-quality content and share it widely
  • Identify which social networks are most successful over time and focus on them
  • If your product has visual appeal, use that to your advantage
  • Use social media to communicate with your audience directly and transparently
  • Establish your reputation and become a recognized voice in your industry

Firefly Bicycles’ Engaging Social Media Strategy

Members – login to get the details on how Sweet Pete’s stays on top of their social media strategy in just a few hours a week: click here to login!

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more:

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.

Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

I have a confession to make  . . .

I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.

In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.

So where did I turn?

YouTube, of course.

And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.

1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators

The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content.  Here are some examples:

Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.


2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.

Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?

3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes

One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:

  • Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own.  Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
  • Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
  • Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
  • Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
  • Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague.  These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
  • How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.

Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels.  Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.

What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.

4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles

The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.

Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:



Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:



You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+.  You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.

Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.


5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails



6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility

I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.

Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.

Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:

sprinkle of glitter collab video


7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience

Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.

They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.

Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them.  In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all.  And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.

That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.


I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.

Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.

What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?

Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.

What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?

Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way.  I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.

Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it.  Here are visual content statistics:

  • Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
  • Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
  • Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
  • Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic

If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.

What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?

The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online.  While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.

Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.

Tell Your Story Using Simple Images

A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page.  They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics.  Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:

visual storytelling case study

Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.

Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.

Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.

missouri star quilt company tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials

Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.

Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.

Reach Business Clients Using Presentations

Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video


Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes

Here at we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.

Create Your Visual Roadmap

To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:

  • what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
  • what is your brand’s purpose?
  • what are your business goals for your marketing?
  • what are your customer’s pain points?
  • what marketing efforts are working now?

Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.

What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

Oct 08

How a Local Candy Store Uses Social Media to Generate Sales after TV Exposure [CASE STUDY]

By Maria Peagler

In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a local candy store’s appearance on national television doubled as an opportunity to learn how to make better use of social media. You’ll discover how they connect with their customers—near and far—in just a few hours a week.

Case Study: Sweet Pete’s

Based in Jacksonville, Fla., Sweet Pete’s is an all-natural confectionery founded by Pete Behringer. Pete’s mother opened a chocolate shop when he was 12, and he opened the doors to his own sweet shoppe in 2010. In addition to all-natural and organic goods, Sweet Pete’s caters to special diets with vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and other special options. They also offer classes and parties for those interested in making their own treats.

On April 1, 2014, Sweet Pete’s made an appearance on CNBC’s “The Profit” and made a deal with Marcus Lemonis to move from the Springfield neighborhood to a bigger space in downtown Jacksonville with a better kitchen and more foot traffic. The appearance generated sales and increased their following, and Sweet Pete’s maintains that momentum using social media to stay in touch with existing customers and attracting new ones.


Sweet Pete’s By the Numbers

  • Facebook Fans:  11,900+
  • Twitter Followers:  2,600+
  • Instagram Followers:  600
  • Time Spent Weekly on Social Media:  3 – 4 hours

Learn What Works and Stick with It


When they first started out with social media, Sweet Pete’s didn’t have a huge following and did their own thing when it came to social media. After their Marcus Lemonis deal, his team helped Sweet Pete’s improve their marketing efforts to their growing customer-base.

Here’s how Sweet Pete’s got their social media efforts to rake in customers:

  • Learned how to use social media from social media marketing experts
  • Computer-savvy staff who really understand social media management and execution strategy
  • Promoting parties, new deals, seasonal items and specials
  • Photos of products and the team in-action get people engaged
  • Short status posts that don’t demand too much time or attention

By learning from experts and paying attention to what their audience responds to, Sweet Pete’s only has to invest a few hours each week to see results. They see an increase in sales after sharing deals, parties and classes on their social networks, and giving their audience a behind-the-scenes look helps keep them engaged, especially with non-local customers who can’t visit them in-person.


They also use polls as a quick, fun way to get customer feedback and feature products in a non-pushy way:sweetpetescasestudy_03

How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business

Any small or local business can learn from Sweet Pete’s strategy to improve at social media marketing and engage better with customers:

  • Always be professional
  • Allow staff with the social media knowledge and expertise to take the lead
  • Know your audience and pay attention to what they want
  • Have fun! Don’t let social media become a burden

Sweet Pete’s Efficient Approach to Social Media Marketing

Members – login to get the details on how Sweet Pete’s stays on top of their social media strategy in just a few hours a week: click here to login!

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more:

Sep 18

How an SMOC Member Used Her Social Media Training to Rebrand and Launch a New Career [CASE STUDY]

By Maria Peagler

In this exclusive case study, you’ll learn how a SMOC member earned her LinkedIn certificate and leveraged it to launch a new career as a LinkedIn business coach.  You’ll discover the tactics she uses and those she says to avoid like the plague.

Case Study: Penny Pearl of Bear2Bull Coaching

Penny Pearl is a former SMOC member who rebranded herself on LinkedIn after earning her course certificate. She previously had a food business, developing the first baked products made with Truvia (and sold in Whole Foods!).

After earning her LinkedIn 101 certificate, Penny launched her new business, Bear2Bull Coaching, focusing on LinkedIn coaching that helps others develop and improve their professional relationships to grow their businesses. She focuses on LinkedIn for lead generation and online sales, and also provides sales and business coaching, unique promotions and marketing campaigns. By being able to teach clients the value of LinkedIn and how to use it to generate leads, Penny has been able to both help her clients and boost her own bottom line.

pennyli5 copyb2b logo copy

Bear2Bull By the Numbers

  • LinkedIn Connections:  500+
  • Time Spent Weekly on Social Media:  40 hours

FOCUS is KEY: How Penny Finds Clients on LinkedIn


Penny admits that perfecting her system took time— about a year of trying things and refining her strategy to really get things working. She quickly realized that you can keep busy with social media without seeing much in the way of results if you’re not focused.

So how did she adapt her strategy?

Here’s what Penny did to make LinkedIn pay off:

  • Started paying attention to those tactics that lead to achieving her business goals
  • Ditched what wasn’t working and replaced those with new tactics
  • Uses her LinkedIn profile as a marketing tool: it demonstrates her LinkedIn expertise and allows others to easily vouch for her skills and knowledge.
  • Refined those efforts until she developed a repeatable system that worked for herself and her clients

While Penny uses LinkedIn full-time to generate leads for her LinkedIn coaching business, she realizes her clients don’t WANT to do that or CAN’T. So, she teaches them how to make every bit of time they spend using LinkedIn count, whether it’s 15 minutes or three hours.


She also offers free learning opportunities such as webinars, which she promotes on her other social networks as well:


How You Can Adapt This Case Study for Your Own Small Business

Regardless of what product or service your business offers, you can learn from Penny’s tactics to keep your own social media marketing efforts focused and productive:

  • Identify effective marketing tactics and replace those that aren’t working
  • Refine those tactics to develop a repeatable system
  • Embrace new technology that helps you provide value for your clients
  • Use social media to listen to client questions! Use them to develop your products and services.

Bear2Bull’s LinkedIn Lead Generation System

Members – login to get the details on how Penny has mastered lead generation using LinkedIn: click here to login!

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more:

Top 10 Articles from 2014
Aug 25

Top 10+ Social Media Articles from First Half of 2014


Top 10 Articles from 2014

Wow! Here’s your Best of the Best list of the most popular articles from the past six months of 2014 . Bookmark this post to stay on top of what’s current now (members — these are in addition to the classes you get at SMOC!).

Don’t forget to share with your colleagues & friends.  A great way to stay on top of the latest changes in social media marketing.

#1. Creating an Action Plan for Your SMART Social Media Goals: Your First 100 Days Challenge

In the words of Steven Covey, “start with the end in mind.”  Once you identify your SMART goal, you can break it down into specific tasks, with dates, and put actions behind each. . .

#2. Social Media for Local Business [Case Study]: Hair Salon on Facebook

How can local businesses capitalize on social media marketing to compete with chains and online competition? …

#3. Why Large-Brand Case Studies Don’t Work for Small Business

Large brand case studies rule the internet . . . . but where are case studies for small brands? Right here! We debut 13 original case studies showcasing how small to medium-sized businesses rocking social media marketing for greater profits . . .

#4. Facebook Marketing Infographic 2014

Quickly tap into 1 billion customers on the world’s largest social network. The infographic helps you get better results from Facebook in 2014. . .

#5. The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business? Find out here. . .

#6. The Ultimate Guide to Profitable LinkedIn Networking [Infographic]

Notice how much LinkedIn has changed this year?  It’s practically an entirely new social network. . .

#7. 9 Google+ Tactics to Increase Your Blog’s SEO and Traffic

Google+ is a hugely underestimated content marketing tool, which makes using it now a superlative way to increase your blog’s visibility across the web. . .

#8. Social Media Presentations, Templates, and Videos: Get My Best Resources without Leaving Home

I speak often at social media and business conferences, and my PowerPoint presentations are a staple of my lectures. They range from overall strategy to specific social networks, and are loaded with case studies. . .

#9. Instagram for Small Business: Three Master Marketers

Since its release in October 2010, Instagram has gained popularity around the world. As of March 2014, there were nearly 200 million monthly active users, and about 13 percent of all internet users around the world were on Instagram. . .

#10. What Facebook Isn’t Telling Businesses About It’s New Timeline Design

Why are they changing things just when you got used to them? That’s what you’ll learn in this week’s post:  the good, the bad, and the ugly that Facebook won’t tell you. . .

#11. Week 5: Case Studies of Small Businesses Getting 60% of Their Leads from Social Media

Welcome to Week 5!  This week you’ll take a deep look at two case studies of small businesses that use this system to get 60% of their leads from social media. . .

#12. The State of Social Media for Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

We posed questions to members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014. . .

#13. Marketing Infographics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare and Social Media Strategy

Infographics are hands-down the most popular tools I offer here at People love getting actionable tactics, organized and well-laid out for them. . .

#14. Content Marketing Made Simple

Content marketing is the foundation of any social media marketing or SEO plan.  But what if you’re not a writer? And it takes so much time!. . .

Aug 12

Social Media for Local Business [Case Study]: Local Neighborhood Meat Market on Facebook

By Maria Peagler

Editor’s Note:  Amanda Jensen is a summer intern at  She’s a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

How can local businesses capitalize on social media marketing to compete with Wal-Mart and Costco’s deep discounting? This week’s case study focuses on a local meat market that uses their small, local status as their greatest asset, successfully monetizing social media marketing in a mid-size midwestern city.

Case Study: Stittsworth Meats

Mychal Stittsworth is the owner of Stittsworth Meats in the town of Bemidji, Minnesota. Stittsworth Meats has been in Mychal’s family since his father purchased it as a grocery store back in 1993, in hopes of turning it into an “old-fashioned meat market”. The town of Bemidji has a population of around 13,000, but Stittsworth’s local business has over 20,000 likes on Facebook.  His ability to reach a fan base beyond the limits his northern-Minnesota town is more than noteworthy.

Michael includes his store location on all of his advertisements.

Michael includes his store location on all of his advertisements.

Stittsworth Meats By the Numbers

  • Facebook Fans:  20,322
  • Twitter Followers:  116
  • Instagram Followers: 136
  • Time Spent Weekly on Social Media:  7 hours

ALL Business is LOCAL

Local businesses often feel squeezed by increasing competition from large big-box stores and online competitors. Though they have become successful enough to open additional locations, Mychal and his staff have been able to maintain their “local business image” in each location.


By engaging with local businesses and consumers on a level no national supermarket chain can match.  Mychal devotes only an hour a day to his social media efforts, but he uses certain tactics such as contests, photos and promotions to get customers engaged.

Promotions are a fantastic way to bring in new and existing clients.

Promotions are a fantastic way to bring in new and existing clients. This simple 3-line post received 98 likes and 15 shares!

Stittsworth increased traffic through the door and product awareness by staying in touch with clients on Facebook. Michael stays in touch with  clients on Facebook by sharing funny photos, and reaching the “friends of friends” to increase his brand visibility far beyond the city of Bemidji and into the state.

On the Facebook page, Stittsworth does a lot of contests, where consumers only need to share their posts to enter. Whoever gets the most shares from their post wins!

Sophisticated Use of Social

While Stittsworth Meats is a small brand, they’ve mastered social media marketing and use it in a highly sophisticated way.  Stittsworth’s business has been featured on Facebook’s own blog as a small business success story. Their website is filled with fantastic product descriptions and tantalizing photos of their meat.

Michael uses attractive advertising to showcase his products.

Michael uses attractive advertising to showcase his products.

Despite their presence on Instagram and Twitter, Facebook is where Sittsworth truly shines:

Stittsworth has a fantastic Facebook page!

Stittsworth has a fantastic Facebook page!

Engagement Through Contests

In addition to their very professional website, Stittsworth Meats has mastered the art of engagement on Facebook. As mentioned before, Stittsworth uses contests to drive engagement, which he says brings people into his shops.

In an interview with IMPACT 20/20, Stittsworth talked about the effect that his contests have on his customers.

There were a lot of people coming through the door asking who was winning, Stittsworth said. “It created a buzz.”

Promotions are a great way to bring people to your business.

Promotions are a great way to get people to engage online and also bring them into your business.

In addition to offers from his own shop, Stittsworth also partners up with other businesses, such as Traeger Pellet Grills to give away other great prizes, which not only engages Stittsworth’s fans, but brings in fans of Traeger Grills as well.

Partnerships with other businesses are a great way to bring in new clients and expand your fan base.

Partnerships with other businesses are a great way to bring in new clients and expand your fan base.

Humorous posts are also extremely effective for Stittsworth. While they aren’t all original content (this one is from Weber Grills), they keep Stittsworth’s Facebook page lighthearted and more personal.

Posting funny quotes and pictures can bring in a lot of likes and shares.

Posting funny quotes and pictures can bring in a lot of likes and shares.

Beneath It All, A Family

Stittsworth Meats is a family business, and Mychal wants to maintain that image. In his General Information and Description pages on Facebook, Mychal gives his fans a look into the story of his local business. He starts from the beginning and talks about his plans for the future, which include maintaining the small neighborhood feel of his shops.

Mychal also thanks his customers for their support, and puts a huge stress on sticking to the family business traditions. Mychal does a fantastic job of conveying his personality in an online medium, which is extremely important. It makes customers (and potential customers) feel more comfortable about the business and its intentions.How You Can Adapt Mychal’s Strategies For Your Business

How You Can Adapt Mychal’s Strategies For Your Business

Stittsworth Meats successfully monetizes their social media marketing by focusing on these tactics:

  • Embrace social media and all it can do for your business!
  • Post consistently throughout the week
  • Engage with fans and other local businesses (local-only)
  • Post lots of pictures, and don’t hesitate to use a little humor
  • Use incentives such as giveaways and contests to increase product awareness
  • Let your personality shine through (tell customers your story, they want to know!)

What have you done?

What sort of tactics do you use to market your local business? What do you think about Michael’s social media strategy? Comment below and share your thoughts with us, we’d love to see your input!

Jun 16

15+ Case Studies Prove Small Business ROCKS Social Media

By Maria Peagler

Editor’s Note:  Amanda Jensen is a summer intern at  She’s a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Photo by Amanda Jensen

Photo by Amanda Jensen

Dell, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to promote their brands, and expand knowledge of their products.

Small businesses are no different in this respect. Their owners see the benefit of a social media presence, and they want IN!

Small brands function differently from a large mega-corporation. This makes it difficult to take the strategies from Starbucks or Amazon and apply them to your small business.

You need different approach.

If Dell is looking for some new marketing ideas, they can look at case studies of other large brands and get inspiration from their marketing strategies. These case studies WON’T be applicable to a small business, regardless of what their authors say.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry! SMOC has a multitude of case studies for you to learn from, and apply to your business. The best part? They’re ALL about small businesses, and they are all proof that social media can help YOUR business can succeed!

Take a look at these success stories from small businesses who used a customized approach, and had HUGE success!

  1. 13 Small Business Case Studies
  2. Social Media for Local Business [Case Study]: Hair Salon on Facebook
  3. How To Make $100,000 in Real Estate from Social Media Alone [Case Study]
  4. How to to Generate 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad [CASE STUDY]
Apr 28

The State of Social Media for Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

We posed questions to members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014.  Some results were expected, while others were shocking.  All are shown in the infographic below.  (Following the infographic is a brief explanation of the finding for each question) state of social media for small business

Share this Image On Your Site

Majority of Small Business Owners Do Have a Website


Most small business owner do have their own website, which is big jump from 2011, when less than 50% did (according to the SBA).  That means more entrepreneurs sare making the transition from traditional marketing to digital.  It’s also a positive step in owning your space online: social networks may change, but you own your website and your domain, and can control its look, feel, and what you share on it.

More Business-to-Consumer Brands Use Social Media

b2c It’s no surprise that more business-to-consumer brands (B2C) use social media, as far more social networks exist for those channels.  Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are definitely stronger in the B2C market, while LinkedIn, Twitter, and Slideshare are focused more on the B2B space. Google, Google+, and YouTube cross both spectrums.

Are Your Clients Mostly Women?

pinterest The response to this question was surprising:  women are more active on social networks, and Pinterest is primarily a social network for women.  But a clear 63% of members said that women were not the majority of their clients.  Greater than half of small brands reach out to both men and women in their marketing.

Everyone Watches YouTube

youtube YouTube remains the biggest missed opportunity for small business, as over 98% of members have watched a video there, but fewer than 10% actually use video marketing.   Brands can learn to record and produce video quickly with smartphones, webcams, and even use YouTube’s built-in editing features to get started marketing their business with video.

Search Engine Rank is Essential

google Ranking highly in search engine results is critical to small brands for growing their business, as a clear 87% responded it was important. However, SEO services remain out of reach to small business budgets, with the average SEO project costing $4,000 (according to  Entrepreneurs can improve their own SEO rankings by focusing on their domain names, content marketing, and earning high quality links to their websites.

Few Brands Give Presentations, Workshops, or Lectures

slideshare Only 36% of small business owners give presentations, workshops or lectures.  Educational marketing offer a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach a wider audience, provide “infotainment,” and build their client list.

Both B2B and B2C brands can benefit:  Fun Finds and Designs, a retail consignment store in Canton, GA, gives monthly how-to workshops in their store.  Here at we repurpose many of our infographics and webinars into excerpts on – both are great marketing tools.

Small Business Needs Influencer Outreachtwitter

A little more than half — 57% — of small brands said they need to get the attention of influencers in their industry.  Twitter is an excellent, low-maintenance way to do influencer outreach, yet many entrepreneurs still see Twitter as a celebrity social network.

While the definition of an influencer will vary from one industry to another, you’re quite likely to find those key players on Twitter engaging in multiple conversations daily.  Brands should be on Twitter, focusing on their industry influencers, and engaging in those conversations.

Tip: a great way to group conversations by industry in both Twitter and Hootsuite is to use a list.  You can have separate lists for the media, vendors, potential joint venture (JV) partners, and more.

Biggest Challenge Facing Small Brands: How to Start with Social Media?


The top challenge facing small brands is this: they’re overwhelmed, with 48% responding they don’t where to start.  Almost every brand assumes they need Facebook: in reality, only those B2C businesses or those using Facebook regularly will benefit.

Few brands have a clear strategy, and usually don’t know the questions to ask to develop one.  (Register for the free Social Media Strategy class on the Home page to build your own strategy.)

A close second is being faced with far too many social networks, and not knowing which one holds the best potential for their business.  Too many brands feel the need to be everywhere, and end up burned out and frustrated over a watered-down presence not generating results.

The third challenge facing small brands is not seeing a return on their investment (ROI).  Not surprisingly, if brands are unsure where to start or which online platform will perform best for them, their ROI will suffer.  It’s critical to develop a strategy, identify your highest potential social network (take the quiz from our Home page), and measure results over time.

Action Steps: How to Capitalize on These Results

What can you take away from these results to improve your own marketing?

  • If you don’t already have a website, you need to get one
  • No matter who your audience is, there’s a social network for you
  • Every business should start video marketing in 2014. You’ll see improved search engine rank and increased traffic to your website.
  • Educational marketing offers major opportunities to build your brand
  • Search Engine Optimization is important, and small brands can do basic SEO themselves
  • Influencer outreach can be simple & low-maintenance on Twitter
  • Develop and clarify your marketing strategy and your highest potential social network
Quarterly Top 30 Social Media Articles
Apr 08

Quarterly Top 30+ Social Media Articles



Top 30Wow! Here’s your mega-resource list of the past 30+ (ok – 45) articles from 1st quarter 2014. Bookmark this post to stay on top of what’s current now (these are in addition to the classes you get at SMOC).

And don’t forget to share with your colleagues & friends.  Enjoy!

#1. The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business

Keeping with the local theme this month is one of my twice-annual Ultimate Guides. This time it’s for Local Business only, and you get an infographic with 64 local-only marketing tactics and a brief explanation of each. You’re gonna want to share & bookmark this one . . . .

#2. LinkedIn Master Tactic: Search a Colleague’s Contact List*

What if you could search a super-connector’s contact list on their smartphone to find the best new hires, JV partners, mentors, and more? I show you how I’m finding a new affiliate manager by tapping into a colleague’s network in this master tactic video . . . .

#3. How Can I Rebrand My Business?*

This member wanted to know how she could rebrand her business after her company placed a major restriction on social media use. Find out my surprising answer here . . . .

#4. Facebook Like Box – Forum Q&A*

This member is getting a Facebook Like box on her website this week. But what exactly are people Liking when they click that button? Find out here . . . . .

#5. How to Boost a Post, Create an Ad Using FB Ad Manager*

How can you advertise your business on Facebook? Which method should you be using for your goals? Find out here in Facebook 103 all new lessons . . . .

#6. The Most Successful Small Business Advertiser on FB*

I was shocked when I found out how this tiny business earns $23 for every $1 on Facebook ads. Yes, you can generate business from a FB ad, and this case study shows you how . . . . .

#7. How to Allow Visitors to Submit Blog Posts & Images to your Blog*

This SMOC member & author wants to encourage readers to submit their own photos & images to her blog. How can she do it? It’s easier than you think . . . .

#8. How to Add a Pin It Button to Blog Images*

This SMOC member wants to make it easy for readers to pin her blog images to Pinterest. How can she add the Pin It button? Find out here . . . . .

#9. How a #1 Local Business Monetizes Social Media Marketing [CASE STUDY]

This local hair salon is #1 in their mid-size city, and social media marketing is a big reason why. Learn what they do differently to make their marketing pay off big . . . .

#10. Facebook’s Changes to Business Page Timelines & NewsFeeds*

Yep, Facebook is changing business pages again. What it means for your business and what you can do now to prepare . . . .

#11. New Facebook 101 Lesson: How to Stay on Top of Facebook’s Latest Changes*

Feel like you’re always behind the latest social media changes and can’t keep up? I’ve made it simple to know what’s important and what you can ignore in this new lesson . . . .

#12. Facebook Changes 2014 Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

One-page cheat sheet to make it dead-simple to know what to do to keep your business page relevant and visible on Facebook . . . .

#13. What’s a Good Click-Through Percentage?*

This member want to know what to expect as a good click-through percentage on Google. Find out what affects your CTR and what you can do about it here . . . . .

#14. Five New Videos in Facebook 101*

How do you measure your Facebook marketing results? These 5-minute videos tell you how to identify your most popular posts, see what your fans look at on your page, how to get more engagement, find fan demographics, and much more . . . .

#15. Small Business Websites Live or Die by These Reviews*

This new member is launching an international tour company and wants advice on how to be effective in social media. This review site is a must . . . .

#16. How Can I Ensure My Facebook Posts Are Seen by the Public?*

This member wants to know how she can go beyond just her fans seeing her posts: how does she make them visible to the public? . . . .

#17. How to Make Photos from Followers are Visible on Instagram*

When a follower posts a video of your work, how can you ensure it’s visible on your account? Find out here . . . . .

#18. Content Marketing Made Simple Webinar Replay*

This webinar was so popular it broke records for most attendance! Get the webinar replay, slide deck, mp3 audio file, checklist, and a BIG bonus here:

#19. How to Make a Pinterest Pin Go Viral Even before Your Website Launches*

This SMOC member did it with help from a members-only video in the Community, and you can too. Learn her “secret sauce” for a viral pin here:

#20. Private Coaching Now Available for SMOC Members*

When you can’t wait to take an entire class and need results sooner, turn to private coaching. I’m debuting three levels of coaching for individuals, small business and marketing pro’s here:

#21. How Do I Ask My FB Friends to Like My Page?*

Unsure of how to approach friends and ask for them to Like your business page? This member wanted guidance, and Maria offered a great post you can actually “cut and paste” for your own use here:

#22. Member Website & Social Media Critique [VIDEO]*

Watch as Maria makes over a member’s website & Facebook page, offering advice on quick improvements and deeper enhancements you can apply to your own business here:

#23. Contests & Fundraising on Facebook: New Facebook 103 Lessons*

Updated with the latest case studies and rules for 2014. Great for both private business and non-profits:

#24. Advice on Starting a Local Social Media Marketing Business*

This member had questions about starting a local marketing business with a specific industry focus. Find out Maria’s advice here:

#25. How to Brand & Watermark Your Images [VIDEO]*

How can you brand your images so people know they came from your website (no matter where they end up)? Watch this video to learn how to brand & watermark your images . . . .

#26. Most Effective Way to Pitch a Guest Post to Top Bloggers*

A-list bloggers are bombarded by people asking to guest post. Find out their favorite way to be contacted and how to do it right . . . .

#27. Facebook Doesn’t Offer a Category for My Business? What to Do?*

A new member has a unique business with star-studded Hollywood props that defies categorization. Which Facebook category should they choose? . . . . .

#28. Unified Social Media Strategy: Content+Website+Social+SEO+Email

How can you get more mileage out of your marketing? Find out in the new Lesson 6 of the Social Media Strategy class here . . . .

#29. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget Webinar Replay & Resources*

Webinar replay, audio, slide deck and infographic that teach you how to get 900X Reach, 1,200% ROI, and 200X engagement all with a simple Facebook ad. Get it here . . . .

#30. Facebook 103 is Entirely New for 2014*

Our Advanced Facebook class – 103 – is brand new for 2014. New lessons, new case studies, all in the 10-minute a day format. Start your lessons here . . .

#31. LinkedIn Quietly Removes Activity Feed from Profiles*

LinkedIn never officially announced this move, but I’ve gotten confirmation they removed the ability to see your own updates and those of your connections. What does this mean? Find out here . . . .

#32. Help! How Do I Market a Painful Business (Literally!)?*

Great Q&A in the Forum from a dentistry practice that specializes in gentle, pain-relieving procedures. What attracts fans to a business page no one wants to think about? Find out here . . . . .

#33. How to Identify Your Most Profitable Keywords for SEO*

This member has a new product that few people are searching for. How can he get traffic to his website? See the solution here . . . . .

#34. How to Generate 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad

Case Study of an SMOC member who admits he “didn’t know what he was doing” when he ran his first Facebook and got a 1,200% ROI on his $50 investment. Was it beginner’s luck? Find out here . . . .

#35. Redesigned Social Media Strategy Class: 2014 Edition

Fall 2013 brought major changes to social, SEO, and content marketing, so I’ve redesigned the strategy class to get results faster in a more unified way. Find out if your marketing has what it takes for 2014 . . . . .

#36. Forum Q&A: Multiple Businesses Need Multiple YouTube Channels?*

This SMOC member wants to know: “if i I have multiple businesses, do I need more than one YouTube Channel?” Weigh in here . . . .

#37. Forum Q&A: In Between Jobs & Learning WordPress?*

Another SMOC member is between jobs and using this time to learn WordPress. She wants to know: which should she focus on: or .org? Find out here . . . .

#38. It’s 2014: Have You Updated Your Marketing Strategy Yet?

2014 is bringing major changes to the way you need to market your business online. Relying on what worked in the past will generate lackluster results. Learn 4 vital changes to make to your 2014 marketing strategy here . . . .

#39. Members-Only Infographic: Facebook Primer for Small Business*

Wondering who sees your activity on Facebook? What’s the best type of engagement for your business? This infographic gives clear explanations of how to use your personal profile & your business page and who sees your activity from each . . .

#40. Should You Use Google+ for Business, Personal, or Both?*

A member wonders: “should I post from my personal Google+ page, my business page, or both? And do my contacts from my personal page automatically get added to my business page?” Inquiring minds want to know . . . .

#41. New Look for the My Classes Page*

Your My Classes page has gotten a makeover, and members love it! More graphical and easier on the eyes. Take a look here . . . .

#42. How to Use Infographics to Increase Your Search Engine Rank*

Insightful Forum Q&A reveals how to create an infographic that stands out, attracts backlinks, and increases your site’s search engine rankings . . .

#43. Online Marketing Multi-Tool: Member Bonus ($597 value)*

The first member bonus of 2014 is a simple solution to generating content for all your online marketing platforms, eliminating “what will I post today?” block . . . .

#44. 2014 Edition: Facebook Marketing Infographic*

The most famous & shared infographic at SMOC reflects the latest Facebook changes for 2014, and includes a section on monetization & ads. Get it here . . .

#45. Instagram 101 Debuts This Month!*

Get a sneak peek of the course outline & lessons here . . . .

*Identifies members-only content

social media for local business webinar excerpt
Apr 07

Social Media for Local Business Webinar Sneak Peek

By Maria Peagler

Members had so many questions during the Social Media for Local Business webinar they stayed for an additional 30 minutes with loads of questions!

The best member takeways were:

  • how to get a steady stream of new customers
  • which local resources were best for their business type
  • how to optimize social resources to help local consumers find your brand
  • and much more!

Webinar Sneak Peek

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from the webinar:

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more:

Mar 27

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler


Click to download the infographic

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.

How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business?

So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business?

Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic.  It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.

Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you. Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the social buttons at the top & bottom of this post.


local google+

1. Get a local business page

Getting found on search engines is crucial for any local business, and the #1 step you can take to appear on page one of Google search results for your area is to get a Google+ local business page. It six weeks for Google to verify your address, but once they do, you get a free listing worth thousands in advertising.

ultimate guide to local business Socialmediaonlineclasses 1

The simplest way to get a local business page on Google is to use Google+

2. Add photos of your business’ exterior

Give people a snapshot of what your brick & mortar location looks like. While a professional image would be great, one you take yourself will do nicely.

3.  Add photos of your business’ interior

Do you invest a lot of time making your store an inviting place to stop in and browse? Show it off with photos of the interior, including your products, inventory, and what makes your business unique.

4.  Offer the ability to add reviews

People trust reviews from real consumers and businesses, so allow the public to review your brand. Don’t worry about negative reviews: studies show they actually increase overall review credibility. Just ensure they don’t outweigh the positive ones.

5.  Post hours of operation

Add your location’s hours and Google will let people know if you’re open at the EXACT moment they’re searching. Google is relieving your staff workload by avoiding that phone call of “are you open today?”

6.  Includes a map and directions

Google+ provides a map to your location, making it easy for visitors to get directions from Google Maps both on desktop and mobile.  Again, a phone call saved asking “how do I get to your office?”

7.  Add local area code and telephone number

Adding your local telephone number makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you and call your store by pressing just one “Call” button. Even better?  Adding your local area code also boosts your local search engine rankings.

8.  Use local hashtags

People do a lot of searching on Google+, and using hashtags relevant to your area will help you get found more often. A local insurance office would do well to use the hashtags such as #insurance, #atlanta, and #allstate (substitute your brand name here).


local youtube

9. Record a brief intro video

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so you’ve got to show up there with a video. Record a brief video introducing your business, what you do, and your location. Think of it as your own YouTube commercial.

10. Video title should include your city, business type, name of business

It may sound dull and uninspired, but including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on YouTube.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your video is the one they’re looking for:

youtube for local business

Notice the location and type of business in the YouTube video title?

11. Website hyperlink is first item in description

What’s the next thing you want viewers to do after watching the video? Visit your website? Then put the website hyperlink as the first element in the video description.  That ensures viewers will see it even if they don’t click on See More to view the full description.  Want viewers to call you? Then use your telephone number as the first item in the description.

12.  Use city and zip code as tags

Tags are categories you can use to further describe your video, and they help YouTube determine which are the most relevant videos to your search.  By using your city name and local zip code as tags, you’re telling YouTube to serve up your video as local results when people are searching for videos in your area.

13.  Keep video short, less than three minutes

Make your video easy on you to record AND easy on viewers to watch by keeping it short, under three minutes.  Remember, television commercials are 30 seconds: watch them closely to see what they include and emulate the ones you like.

14.  Give viewers a virtual tour

You’ve likely invested heavily in your office or store’s interior, so show it off to viewers.  Give them an idea of what it will look and feel like when they visit your location. Be sure to point out what differentiates your brand from others in the area.

15.  Invite viewers to visit

Lastly, extend an invitation to viewers to visit your location, and offer something special to them when they do. Give away a freebie when people tell you they saw your video on YouTube.

16.  Mine Analytics for a gold mine of viewer data

YouTube offers excellent analytics about how many people watched your videos, for how long, and how they found them.  If people are watching only the first 10 seconds, take another look at your video. What’s your most popular video? Your least?


local facebook

17. Select local business as your business page category

Facebook offers local businesses valuable features on their pages not available to others, including a map, your hours, and reviews.  All these items make it simple for people to find out about your brand directly within Facebook.

facebook local business page

Facebook’s local business pages display your hours, customer reviews, and a map to your location

18. Local business pages offer a map

When you add your physical address to your local business page, Facebook displays a map to your location.  This is particularly helpful to mobile users, who can click on the map and get directions from their current location.

19.  Local business pages offer reviews

Reviews from real consumers are one of the best ways to boost your brand’s credibility.  Yes, you risk getting a negative review or two, but studies show those bad apples actually increase the authenticity of all the reviews.  No need for people to go to Yelp — you’re letting your best customers say how much they love you and why!

20.  Are you open today?

Facebook actually saves your staff from endless calls about “are you open today” and “how late are you open” with real-time status: Open 11:00 – 3:00 or Closed Today. Helpful for both your team and consumers.

21.  Use local hashtags in posts

Hashtags are a great way to get found in Facebook GraphSearch, and local hashtags give you an intimate connection with your community.  The more you use hashtags, the greater the opportunity for people to find your business on Facebook. G. Michael Salon, the #1 hair salon in Indianapolis, uses up to 13 hashtags on a single post.

22.  Motivate fans to tag your business

Tagging allows a fan to mention your business in a post or a photo, resulting in it appearing on your NewsFeed.  Can you say “free public relations?” Give fans a reason to tag your business: motivate them with a freebie or an opportunity for an experience no one else gets.

23.  Check-ins from fans appear in their NewsFeeds

When your fans visit your location and check-in, their status appears in their NewsFeed along with a link to your business page.  Another fantastic opportunity for free publicity. Capitalize on your local status and encourage fan check-ins with photo opportunities, cool displays, or other unique experiences.

24.  Local businesses appear in GraphSearch first

If I’m looking for an insurance agency in my city, Facebook GraphSearch serves up those I’m fans with first, then  local matches.  Grow a targeted, local fan base and you’ll see improved search results.  Also check your Insights to see where new fans are coming from.


local slideshare

25. Gives local business a huge SEO boost

Few business owners understand the impact Slideshare can have on your search engine rankings.  After all, it’s where you share PowerPoints, right? Yes, but Slideshare transcribes the text of your slides, search engines (Google, Bing, & Yahoo) read that text, and if they like what they see, your search engine rankings improve.

slideshare for local business

Slideshare offers local businesses a HUGE SEO boost IF you use it correctly

26. Presentation title should include your city, business type, name of business

Similar to #10 for YouTube, including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on Slideshare and in Google search.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your business is the one they’re looking for.

27.  Use SEO keywords in title text

Your SEO keywords are those search terms people use in Google to find what they’re looking for.  Someone from Atlanta searching would likely search for “Georgia Ford Dealerships” if they want that cool new Shelby Mustang. If those keywords are in your presentation title, your business has a much greater chance of appearing before searchers on Google and in Slideshare.

28.  Slideshare transcribes slide text for SEO

A perk of uploading a presentation to Slideshare is that it transcribes the slide text for you.  Search engines LOVE that. Aim for a balance of text on your slide that is enough to help you rank in search, but not so much you crowd the slide.

29.  Add a location slide with a photo

Help people visualize where your business is located by dedicated one slide to how to find you.  Give your address, nearby landmarks, and a nice photo of your building.

30.  Differentiate your business

What’s unique about your business? Hair salons are plentiful in most cities, but not all have Redken-trained colorists and carry Aveda products. A small one-person barber shop is an entirely different experience than a full-service barber who offers hot shaves, mustache trims, and a large collection of American Crew styling products.  You know what your customers want:  tell them you offer it in your presentation.

31.  Use a variety of images

Please don’t resort to the snooze-fest that is the text-only slide, or Death-by-PowerPoint. Make your slide presentation visually engaging by using a variety of relevant images, great slide design, and easily read fonts.

32.  Few local businesses use Slideshare

If you’re a local business reading this blog post, you’re in the minority.  Most small brands don’t use Slideshare, so simply uploading a presentation there puts you in the place of most potential. Try it – and let me know how it works for you.

Review Sites

local review sites

33. Yelp is important for local restaurants

If you own a restaurant, people are already reviewing it on Yelp. It’s become the go-to source for finding a great place to eat in any town. Especially critical if you’re located in a tourist town. A Yelp listing offer your address, telephone, hours, a map, photos of dishes you offer, and reviews.

34. Kudzu is great for local service businesses

Kudzu offers reviews for automotive, legal, health, financial and residential construction service businesses in major cities in the U.S. However, reviews are a small part of a large, detailed description and list of services you can display on Kudzu for free. Kudzu should be high on your list if you’re in a service-based business.

35.  TripAdvisor is a must for travel businesses

TripAdvisor is the first place travelers look when they’re planning a visit to a major city around the world. I personally booked a bicycle tour in Paris from reviews on TripAdvisor, and during the tour, the business owner told me TripAdvisor is a major source of new business for them. They key to credible reviews on TripAdvisor:  photos.

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business - TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business – TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

36.  Review sites can be an ongoing source of new customers

While many local business owners fear negative or fake reviews on these sites, it makes sense to embrace these websites and make full use of the wealth of free resources they offer you. Instead of waiting for your clients to come to your website, go to where they are: the review sites.  From there you can link to your website, offer inviting photos, and make your listing so inviting they can’t wait to visit.

37. Ask clients to use photos when they review your business

Much has been published about fake reviews (and people even sued over them); the best way to add credibility to any review is to add a relevant photo to it.  A photo of a clean body shop in an auto dealership can say far more than the review content, plus it shows the reviewer was really at your location. Ask your best clients for reviews and encourage them to snap a photo with their smartphone.

38.  Pay attention to review content

Make it a habit to read the reviews of your business and those of your competition.  While it’s impossible to please everyone, you’re likely to see a trend in what people rave about and what needs improvement. When reviewers complain about your competitors, identify how you can capitalize on their weaknesses or suggest a collaboration: you offer what they can’t, and vice-versa.  I know of a local quilt shop owner who formed a friendship with the local Wal-Mart manager, and they agreed to refer customers to each other when shoppers couldn’t find what they needed.

39.  Increases SEO results for your website

Review sites get massive traffic everyday, so a link on Yelp, Kudzu, TripAdvisor or other credible review site will help your website rank higher in search engines.  Don’t stop with just one review site: if your industry has multiple review sites consumers use, create listings on each.

40.  Add menus, photos, and details to your listings

Give visitors a multi-sensory experience when they look at your review site listing: can they see your restaurant’s inviting decor? Can they taste your tiramisu? Smell the Columbian coffee? Give viewers as much detail as possible in the form of photos, descriptions of products/services, directions, and other relevant information.


local instagram2

41. Follow local Instagrammers

Who are the local Instagram influencers in your area? Search for your local hashtag, ask at your next chamber of commerce meeting, and start following those colleagues.  Also identify who the influential Instagram consumers are in your area and follow them as well.

42. Use a variety of images

Mix up the image types you share: staff photos, new products, inspirational quotes, your team at local charity events, before & after transformation photos, in-process photos and more. Keep your image feed interesting:  too much of the same type of image gets repetitive.

43.  Offer behind-the-scenes pictures

Some of the most fascinating images come from places consumers can never go: your kitchen, your body shop, stockroom, etc. Example? A local auto body shop shares fascinating before & after images of wrecked vehicles and the step-by-step process. I’d take my car there!

44.  Before & after transformation images are popular

Want to show off the impact your brand can have? Share before & after images of your clients! Great for hair salons, med spas, auto body shops, remodeling contractors, insurance agencies (before/after a home fire or other disaster) or any brand that has a visual impact.

45.  Share product photos with advice on how to use them

One of my favorite consignment stores posts photos of the new inventory they get weekly. I’d love to get a few of their tips on how to style or use the pieces they get.  Their vision of how to use their products is priceless beyond the piece itself.

An insurance company could share tips on what to do after hail damage to a car. Getting ideas for your brand now?

46.  Add location to images

Sharing those fascinating images is the first step to gaining followers.  Adding your location to those images makes it easy for those followers to find you when they’re ready to visit.

47.  Use local hashtags

Hashtags are crucial to getting found on Instagram, so what are the ones for your area? Indianapolis uses #indy, atlanta is known as #atl.  How about your town?

48. Use city, business type, business name, zip code and area code

If this image is the first time a follower has seen your brand, don’t make them guess at your details. Use hashtags to identify what you do: #atl, #barber, #barkerjackson, #30305, and #770 tells locals everything they need to know about your business at a glance.



local pinterest

49. Use place pins to offer a map to your location

Pinterest now offers “place pins,” which allow you to enter your address and it displays a map of your location. Great for both desktop and mobile users, no one has to guess where you are.

50. Add city and zip code in your board/pin titles and descriptions

Pinterest offers strong SEO results both internally and in Google, so using your city and zip code will help people find their local results.  Do you need them in both the pin and board descriptions? Yes. Why? Boards show up more often in Google, while inside Pinterest you’ll easily find both boards and pins.

51.  Pinterest provides your brand with an easy SEO boost

Not an internet geek? Awesome! You don’t have to be, nor do you have to pay an SEO consultant $5,000 to “optimize” your site.  Just add relevant local details to your boards and pins, and it will definitely help people to find you – both inside Pinterest and in Google search.

52.  Create local theme boards

The sky is the limit here: create “themed” boards around an experience: Date Night board could include dinner at your restaurant with live music. Spa Day board could be your hair salon “makeover” package with cut, color, facial and mani/pedi. Service-based businesses can do this too:  Insurance agencies can do boards around the dream cars, homes, and vehicles they insure. Financial services firms can showcase Saving for College or Retirement boards.

53.  Follow local pinners

Pinterest allows you to easily integrate your Facebook friends into your account, so you can connect with them. This is a great way to find local pinners.  Also search by hashtag to find pinners in your area.

54.  Offer contests to encourage visibility

While Pinterest may not be the first social network to come to mind for contests, brands like Amazon Fashion, LandsEnd, and Lily Pulitzer rock their contests, generating huge follower interest. How? Ask pinners to create boards with their brand favorites, and use the contest hashtag in the board description.

55.  Create a staff board

You’ve invested in a top-notch staff, so let pinners get to know them. Feature a staff board with a pin for each staff member, and a short bio. Want more? Include links to each staff members product recommendations and advice, as described in #56.

56.  Offer staff “picks” and advice

Let each staff member curate their own boards with their favorite products, advice, local hangouts and styles. It’s a great way to let local pinners get to know the faces behind your brand, what their strengths are, and who they identify with.

Mobile Marketing

local mobile

57. A mobile website is CRUCIAL for local businesses

People no longer rely on the Yellow Pages, and they use Siri and Android apps to find the closest business to them. Yesterday I was car shopping and asked Siri “where’s the closest BMW auto dealership?” I immediately looked at the most relevant results (my son was driving!). If your website is responsive or has a mobile version, you’ll get far better click-through rates and more people coming into your location.

58. Make your website responsive

A responsive website is one that automatically detects what device visitors are coming from and optimizes its display for the best viewing experience. Talk to your web developer about the simplest and most elegant way accomplish this: it’s an investment, but one that you need to do sooner than later.

59.  WordPress plugins provide a simple responsive solution

If you have a WordPress website, several plugins turn your website into a mobile version when visitors come from a smartphone or tablet.  These plugins are a smart solution for testing the response you get when you offer an optimized viewing experience for mobile users.  WP Touch and WP Mobile Detector are both highly rated and simple to install.

60.  Design emails for mobile reading

Most of us check our email on our mobile phones at least part of the time, so make your email newsletters mobile-friendly.  Use a mobile-friendly theme or just simple text in one column.  It’s not fancy, but it’s easily read and looks more like the emails readers get from friends and family (they don’t feel like they’re being sold to).

61.  Look at your website and emails on a tablet and smartphone

Great! You’ve got a mobile version of your website and your email newsletter! Have you looked at them yourself — as a consumer? Sure, you’re developer says they look great, but how readable are they to you? Ask staff members and friends to view them from their devices and different browsers to see how they look across the board.

62.  Use a large font size for easier mobile view

One simple tweak you can make to both your website and your email newsletters is to use a larger font size. That automatically reduces eye strain, especially on a tiny smartphone screen.

63.  One column layout is easier to read

Studies prove that a one column layout is both easier to scan and read, and gets higher click-through rates. Consider updating your website and your email newsletters to a simple one column layout. At least test a simplified version of each and see how the response rates change.

64.  44% of website traffic is mobile (and growing)

What adult (or teen) do you see without a smartphone in their hands? Mobile visitors are increasingly becoming a majority of traffic to your website, and local businesses likely get far more than 44% from it.  Check your Google Analytics (or ask your developer to) and see how many of your brand’s website traffic comes from mobile.

Where is Your Business Online? Can Your Customers Find It?

Local businesses are increasingly transitioning print, radio, and television advertising budgets to online marketing. Have you?

Identify your staff member who loves social and can represent your brand well, and give them the opportunity to build or improve your online marketing.  Give them this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most traffic — both online and in your brick and mortar location.

Mar 11

Social Media for Local Business [Case Study]: Hair Salon on Facebook

By Maria Peagler

How can local businesses capitalize on social media marketing to compete with chains and online competition?

This week’s case study focuses on a local hair salon that uses their small, local status as their greatest asset, successfully monetizing social media marketing in a mid-size midwestern city.

Case Study: G. Michael Hair Salon

Greg Lee is the owner of G. Michael Salon in Indianapolis, voted the #1 salon in the city. While you may not think of Indianapolis as a hotbed of social media, Greg and his staff are savvy marketers that use multiple social networks to connect with a fan base far beyond their city.

G. Michael Salon's Facebook Page

Social Network










Hours Invested in Social Weekly


ALL Business is LOCAL

Local businesses often feel squeezed by increasing competition from large big-box stores and online competitors.

Greg and his staff have turned the challenge of being a small, local business into their greatest opportunity.


hair salon instagram case study

G. Michael's fans love their Before/After transformation photos

By engaging with local businesses and consumers on a level no national salon chain can match.

They devote 33 hours each week to their social media efforts: three hours each week planning on what to post, and 30 hours executing their plan.

Sophisticated Use of Social

While G. Michael is a small brand, they’ve mastered social media marketing and use it in a highly sophisticated way. Their Pinterest boards feature staff photos and bios. Click on the Staff board and you’ll get a map to their salon and you can see their large use of hashtags to help their SEO on Pinterest:

hair salon case study pinterest

G. Michael Salon's Pinterest boards

Staff bios, a map, and lots of #hashtags!

Engage Where Your Clients Are

G. Michael has beautiful and vibrant social media presences on multiple social networks, includingFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. They upload before and after hairstyle makeovers, run contests, and support local charities. Combine that with their hashtag use, maps, and reviews on Facebook, and they are a formidable brand to reckon with.

G. Michael salon runs contests regularly

The salon engages on those social networks where their clients hang out, like Instagram.

G. Michael keeps their branding consistent across social networks, and their engagement levels set them apart from other salons in the area, helping to differentiate their brand.

Turning Social into an Over-the-Top Experience in the Salon

Greg credits his team for keeping their clients happy once they’ve engaged on social media and visit the salon, saying:

Once a guest chooses to visit your business after finding you through all of your hard work, it’s time to deliver! Deliver above and beyond what the guest expects each and every time. Consistency is always key. Offer your new guest an excellent experience/service each and every time and they will now become another part of your thriving business

How you can adapt this case study for your own small business

G. Michael Salon successfully monetizes their social media marketing by focusing on these tactics:

    • Weekly planning session for their social media marketing
    • Post consistently throughout the week
    • Engage with fans and other local businesses (local-only)
    • Deep use of hashtags for SEO (local-only)
    • Take advantage of maps on both Facebook and Pinterest (local-only)