Easy Trick for Getting More 5-Star Online Reviews

Are you interested in getting more online reviews for your business? Of course you are. Reviews not only help to improve your company’s ranking in search engines, they prove to others that you’re a credible and trustworthy business.

As a business owner, you already know that reviews are crucial. However, just because you know that they’re important doesn’t mean they’re easy to get. Even if the vast majority of your customers have nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings towards you, it can still be challenging to get them to write a review. The fact of the matter is, the people who’ve had negative experiences are far more likely to write a review in anger, than a happy customer who got what they paid for.

So what is a business owner to do?

Read on to learn a simple ‘hack’ you can do in your email(s) following a job to not only solicit reviews – but solicit positive ones, at that!

Step 1) After you complete a job, send out an email follow-up to your customer. (Tip: This is easy to do in ServiceMonster 6 using the Email Templates marketing feature. Build out a new email template with your company logo, website, social media links, and other contact information. Thank the customer for the opportunity to service them and mention that’d you appreciate a review of the services you provided.)

Step 2) In the email template, include the option for people to select a star rating for the services they received… 1 being the worst, and 5 being the best.

1  star-resized-small
2  star-resized-smallstar-resized-small
3  star-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-small
4  star-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-small
5  star-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-smallstar-resized-small

If a customer was for some reason unhappy with your services, you certainly wouldn’t want to encourage them to leave a review on your company’s Facebook Page, or on Google. You would, however, want them to feel heard, and you would want feedback as to what went wrong. How can you accomplish this? Here’s where the sneaky part comes in!

Step 3) Link the “5” star review (and the “4” too, if you’d like) to whatever review platform you’d like to gather reviews on – whether that be Facebook, Google, Yelp, Groupon, Angie’s List, or something else.

Step 4) Link the “1,” 2,” and “3” star reviews to a contact page on your website where they can privately vent (privately being the keyword, here). Be sure that responses from this form are going to a place where someone in your company will see them and be able to respond in a timely fashion.

By prominently displaying the star ratings in your email and strategically linking them, you not only give your number of reviews a boost, but you also control where the ratings are published – all while making your customers feel heard, regardless of if they had a positive or a negative experience.

We hope you try out this simple ‘hack,’ and that you find success with it!

stars

Are you interested in getting more online reviews for your business? Of course you are. Reviews not only help to improve your company’s ranking in search engines, they prove to others that you’re a credible and trustworthy business. As a business owner, you already know that reviews are crucial. However, just because you know that […]

Top 8 YouTube SEO Strategies

It takes planning and effort to make YouTube videos, so you want to do all you can to ensure that your videos get maximum exposure.

When it comes to YouTube, there are two main components to SEO optimization: video content and user engagement.

With that in mind, here are 8 techniques that we suggest you try out to grow your company’s presence on YouTube.

(Remember, search engine algorithms are always changing, and SEO is not a perfect science. Play around a bit to find out what works best for your company.)

1. Tagging:

Include brand keywords (your company name and any potential misspellings [e.g., our brand keywords are ServiceMonster and Service Monster]). Also, include other keywords that describe your video’s content and your company, such as your industry, and anything else that people might search for to find your content. Relevant tagging helps people find your videos, and the tags play a role in what videos are displayed in the sidebar. Put the most relevant keywords first.

*Bonus Tip: Set up default tags to be applied to all your uploads, which saves time and creates consistency across your videos.

2. Transcript / Closed-Captioning:

Transcribing and uploading closed-caption files for your videos is worth it for a number of reasons:

1) It opens up your content to a wider audience, including people who don’t want to or can’t listen to your video for whatever reason.

2) It can increase the search rank of videos and improve user engagement (views, likes, and comments), which in turn boosts the video’s search rank.

Remember: search engines crawl text, not video. Consider putting all or a portion of the transcription text in the video description, as well, which provides another opportunity for search engines to crawl and index the video.

*Bonus Tip: Upload your own caption files — don’t use YouTube’s auto-captioning feature. Automatic captions are often not accurate — in fact, they tend to be so inaccurate, they aren’t indexed by Google (your own captions files are, however!). Remember that even if auto-captioning saves time, inaccurate captions = spam = lost search rank for your YouTube channel.

3. Call-to-action:

There is no place for subtly when it comes to growing your business’ YouTube channel. Don’t be shy about asking viewers in a straight-forward way to visit your site, subscribe to your channel, like your videos, or take advantage of a special coupon or deal you’re offering. You can do this in the video description, via YouTube annotations (which come in many different formats), or via an end screen. A good call-to-action will be effective in driving traffic to the page of your choosing, or in keeping viewers on your channel, consuming your videos.

*Bonus Tip: Viewers can choose to turn off annotations. With that in mind, end screens are often more effective. In addition, end screens reach viewers on both desktop and mobile, whereas annotations are desktop-only. End screens display at the end of your video with a call-to-action, are a powerful tool for extending watch time on your channel by directing viewers to wherever you want them to go (other places on YouTube, your website, or another page entirely).

4. Channel trailer:

Show non-subscribers who land on your page a short “commercial” of sorts about what your YouTube page is all about. This video displays at the very top of your page, and is likely the first content viewers see if they land directly on your channel. It’s a good place to give an overview of what your company is about, and why viewers should subscribe and watch your videos.

*Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to include a call to action to encourage viewers to subscribe to see more of your company’s content!

5. Playlists:

Putting videos on a playlist can dramatically improve watch time. Why? Because as soon as the video ends, viewers are delivered the next video in the playlist, which hopefully captures their attention and extends their engagement.

6. Long Video Descriptions:

YouTube uses the content in your video descriptions to rank you for long-tail keywords, so make sure you’re making use of it! Try and write up at least 200 words, and pay extra attention to the first 25 words: that’s where you’ll want to include your most important keyword. Try and include your chosen keyword three or four times throughout the description.

*Bonus Tip: Put your business’ link at the top of the description. YouTube only displays the first couple lines of the description automatically (to continue reading, the viewer must click “show more”), so it’s essential that the most important, actionable information is included at the beginning.

7. Video Keywords:

Before finalizing your keyword choice, do a quick search on Google to see if there are video results on the first page. If there are, that’s a keyword you should strongly consider, because it means your video could potentially get ranked and get traffic from both Google and YouTube. How do you determine what keywords to check for? Try keywords in your industry niche (although make sure they’re not too specific — they have to be things you think your customers would be searching for). Once you’ve made a list of a few words, we recommend running them through the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to get an idea of the average monthly searches the keyword gets. This is helpful because there’s no sense optimizing your video around a keyword that is rarely to never searched!

8. Leveraging Online Communities:

Is your business on LinkedIn? If so, we recommend joining a few groups that are relevant to your business — specifically groups focused on the services you provide, the industry you’re in, and your local area. Scroll through the groups on occasion for questions that your videos could help answer. Be sure to type up a thoughtful response, and post the reply with a link to your video and a suggestion that they watch if they would like to see more. This works from an SEO standpoint because not only does it encourage video views, it encourages quality views — viewers who are more likely to watch the video for a longer period of time, engage with it, and share it (all metrics that YouTube tracks).

*Bonus Tip: Keep in mind that LinkedIn groups are primarily for discussion, not self-promotion. With that in mind, don’t spam-post your video links, and ensure that they add value to the overall conversation.

We hope you found these tips helpful, and that you’re excited to implement them in your next upload to YouTube!

seo-youtube

It takes planning and effort to make YouTube videos, so you want to do all you can to ensure that your videos get maximum exposure. When it comes to YouTube, there are two main components to SEO optimization: video content and user engagement. With that in mind, here are 8 techniques that we suggest you […]

FillMySchedule Focus: The Three-Month Reminder Card

FillMySchedule is our direct-mail marketing service. Lately I’ve been scratching my head wondering why there are some of our users who still haven’t signed up for the service, so I decided to publish the numbers for just ONE of our cards: the three-month reminder.

We are often told that sending a reminder card at three months seems like a waste because if you did a good job, a customer shouldn’t need to hire you for a repeat service that soon.

Well, the data speaks for itself. Here are the raw numbers for our three-month reminder card:

3monthnumbers

We sent out a total of 49,064 cards for our customers, which cost them a total of $62,312. This investment led to a total of 4397 confirmed jobs with an average fee of $279.71 per job. That means the gross income directly related to the three-month reminder cards comes to $1,229,874.

That’s right: the initial investment of $62,312 turned into OVER A MILLION DOLLARS, which means that FillMySchedule gave its users a 1,873.76% return on investment.

friendlyreminderpostcard

Think about it: with FMS it costs less than a cup of coffee to send a thank you card after you finish a job. For a $280 paycheck, that’s a minimal expense to create a bond of trust and respect between you and your client. Even better, all you have to do is CLICK A BUTTON and your card will be in the mail.

Three months later, we send your client a reminder card informing them of all the additional services you offer. They still remember how beautiful their carpet was the day that you cleaned it, and they think to themselves, “Wow, I didn’t know these guys did upholstery!” (or tile and grout – or pressure washing – you get the picture).

And just like that, your phone starts ringing. Believe it or not, the three-month reminder brings in business. A LOT of business.

The numbers don’t lie. If you’re ready for more work, we’re ready to fill your schedule.

Seriously… WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!??

Call us at (888) 901-3300 or email us at support@servicemonster.net, or visit http://www.servicemonster.net/fillmyschedule to sign up for FillMySchedule today!

friendlyreminderpostcard

FillMySchedule is our direct-mail marketing service. Lately I’ve been scratching my head wondering why there are some of our users who still haven’t signed up for the service, so I decided to publish the numbers for just ONE of our cards: the three-month reminder. We are often told that sending a reminder card at three […]

ServiceMonster’s Top 13 Posts of 2016

At the end of each year, we like to take a look back over our library of content and see what resonated with you throughout the year. Based on page views, here are our top 13 most-read posts of 2016:

Video
Spotlight: First-Ever Viral Cleaning Industry Video
Our Q&A with Gary Hite of The Dirt Army Carpet & Tile Cleaning Services about their viral grout cleaning video. (We never thought we’d hear ‘viral’ and ‘grout cleaning’ in the same sentence! Their video is currently sitting at 11 million views on Facebook, by the way.)

2014-2015 Data
State-by-State Cleaning Industry Statistics: Average Growth Rate for 2014-2015
We pulled gross revenue data and put together a country-wide map with each state’s average growth rate for 2014-2015.

2014
State-by-State Cleaning Industry Statistics
See how your business compared to other cleaning businesses around the country in 2014.

Facebook Professional Services
Facebook Testing New Business Recommendation Service
Facebook Professional Services is a new feature Facebook is testing that will allow users to search for the best local service providers in their area. (Note: As of publication of this post [Jan. 2017], the Facebook Professional Services link, www.facebook.com/services, results in an error message.)

Carpet Collage
Top 10 Ugliest Carpets in the World
A collection of the most awful carpets we’ve seen.

QuickBooks Online Integration
ServiceMonster Announces New QuickBooks Online Integration
QuickBooks Online customers rejoiced… we announced that ServiceMonster now integrates with QuickBooks, allowing ServiceMonster customers to export payments, invoices, and more to QuickBooks.

Premier Ad
How this Carpet Cleaner Won a Marketing Award
Rob Anspach, owner of Premiere Carpet Cleaners in Lancaster, PA was honored for a direct mail marketing campaign that he created. Here’s a Q&A we had with him a few years back.

Binoculars
9 Ways to Prospect Effectively
Without leads, your business can’t grow. Here are 9 tips for making prospecting a regular part of your marketing repertoire.

Infographic
Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Facebook Page?
Is your business’ Facebook Page selling your services well? Here are ’13 must-know tips for a successful Facebook business Page,’ in infographic form.

Spring FMS Card
Introducing: New FillMySchedule Spring Cleaning Card!
We introduced a new spring cleaning-themed FillMySchedule card, designed in-house by a ServiceMonster employee.

Top 10 2016 Trends
Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2016
Were the predictions accurate?

Pressure Washing
Before and After Spotlight: Rick’s Quality Pressure Washing
A collection of really impressive work done by a pressure washing company in Florida.

Facebook Page
Why You Should NEVER Use a Personal Profile for Your Business
Many cleaning business owners choose to use a personal profile for their business instead of setting up a Facebook Page. If you fall into that category, here are some reasons why you should consider making the switch!

top-13-posts

At the end of each year, we like to take a look back over our library of content and see what resonated with you throughout the year. Based on page views, here are our top 13 most-read posts of 2016: Spotlight: First-Ever Viral Cleaning Industry Video Our Q&A with Gary Hite of The Dirt Army […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (6) Case Studies

This is part 6 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Here are a few good examples of how we and others, have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.

Case Study – Getting Attention

In late 2012, ServiceMonster moved from a bare metal solution to a true virtual service. We adopted Microsoft Azure. That decision would haunt me for eight months. Four months in, I was in a state of panic. The technology was solid. It had to be the platform. But how to get Microsoft’s attention? They had no real support, and the level of support that I needed went way beyond a flow chart, so I created a marketing plan.

It was simple. Use Twitter and talk about my issues tagging Microsoft and Azure team members in every post, but first I had to get someone to listen. I needed to find some of their evangelists. Evangelists are people who are forward-facing about a product or service, but can stand up to technical scrutiny. From there I would find and follow the engineers that were working on Azure. My goal was to obtain email relations with someone that would listen. I figured it would take about 30 days.

I was totally wrong. In 14 days I was talking with an evangelist regularly. I was invited to Microsoft and had a personal eight-hour tour through the Microsoft campus. I talked to their top brass representing the Azure platform. It was pretty cool. I even blogged about it.

It really didn’t help. Four months later I switch to Amazon. The day we switched, ServiceMonster was at peace again, and I got the first night’s sleep I had in a very long time.

The whole experience really opened my eyes to how effective social media could be in so many more ways than as a very effective lead generator.

http://www.servicemonster.net/2013/01/12/mr-smith-goes-to-microsoft

Case Study – Gary Hite

In July of 2016, Gary Hite, a carpet cleaner in Temecula, California, published a video of a tile job. A few weeks later, he had over 12 million views. A month later, a separate company rented the rights to the video and created another 12 million views. We scooped the story as it was happening.

The main points are:
1. Have good stock video.
2. Learn how to produce original compelling content.
3. Do step one and two a lot.
4. Hope that a video gets picked up on an OCD subreddit.

I’m actually not joking. Be a student. Read the blog post. Watch the video. Gary didn’t know it would go viral, but he knows enough to put together some elements in his video that created interest and captured attention. That video has generated work for cleaners all over the United States, and Gary has taken that opportunity to expand several areas of his business.

http://www.servicemonster.net/2016/08/04/spotlight-first-ever-viral-cleaning-industry-video

Case Study – #entrejoe

On August 8th the marketing team and I decided to turn the Joe brand up to 11. We had not yet fully embraced the business persona of ServiceMonster. One mechanism we implemented was a daily entrepreneurial Facebook post, containing relevant content based on issues and hurdles I run into on a daily basis. I call it the Facebook long form. They are usually no more than a few paragraphs long but will often be longer than the fold. After a few weeks of posting, I started receiving encouragement to continue (love that). I even had requests to begin compiling these posts into a mini Art of War style publication. But this isn’t 3000 BC. What did I do? I went back and tagged all of my relevant posts. I needed a hashtag that no one was using. Something that would create a brand. We often trade on ‘Joe’ and my focus is entrepreneurs, so #entrejoe was born. How can you provide the same type of value to your prospects and clients? #entrejoe

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=%23entrejoe

This is part 6 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is: 1. Introduction 2. Concepts 3. Social Platforms Overview 4. 7 Social Strategies 5. Using Facebook 6. Case Studies Here are a few good examples of how we and others, have used social media to accomplish a goal or […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (5) Using Facebook

This is part 5 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Business Pages

STOP INVITING ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE! Seriously. It messes with the insights Facebook can give you. It also makes Facebook think you are a national company instead of a local service. Yes, you can target campaigns using geolocation, but it messes up some of the cooler features. Build your wall. Keep your likes relevant to your clients and prospects. Stop inviting cleaning friends and vendors. This can really wreak havoc if you hire a third-party to manage your Facebook advertising. They will make assumptions which will be incorrect, like that your page supports 35 to 55-year-old males, nationwide, who own a service business. Oh wait, that’s my demographic.

Make your Facebook Page beautiful. If your logo is still out of 90s clipart from MS Office, it might be time for an update. Learn the difference between 72 DPI, 150 DPI, and 300 DPI (dots per inch) and why that’s important to a Facebook Page and mobile technology.

Take some time to build your cover image. That’s your billboard. Make it compelling. Ideally your profile picture will be your logo. Only change it for the most extreme circumstances. Don’t make your alias’ Page profile picture your company’s logo. Maybe try a different, more amplified version of yourself.

Make sure your Page is filled out and complete. Make sure there’s a link to your website. Make sure your phone number is right. Share relevant content, post original content, run ads.

Facebook Pages give you some really cool tools in the Insights section to study the effectiveness of your content (not to mention you run all of your ads from your business Page).

Business Persona

If you’re looking to build a Warrior strategy, it is essential to have a personal alias page for your business. Use your real name and image. Don’t try to give your persona the business name or clever variation. Facebook will eventually close your account until you identify yourself and correct it (don’t ask me how I know).

Join local Facebook groups. Local business groups can be a good source as well. Look for community influencers with a strong Facebook presence and discover where they hang out, online. Send friend requests to people who have liked your Page, and especially ones that are already your clients. Be friends with them! Invest in their lives. Make witty comments on their posts you find entertaining. Share. It’s amazing how fast customers change from clients to individuals when you see their kid hit that home run.

Create a group (or twelve). Assuming you’re the constant student and after you have some attention on both your business and personal pages, you will start to identify additional ways to capture attention. Groups are a great way to communicate to a handful of people. Currently you can add a friend to a group, even without them accepting an invite. By default, they will get a notification whenever there is a post in that group. It’s a powerful feature and one I think we will lose long-term. Be careful with it. Some don’t appreciate being added to a group willy-nilly (sorry guys). The most obvious group for a service provider to create is a private group dedicated to your clients. You have to keep the content relevant to maintain attention and engagement though, so make sure your kung fu is strong.

Facebook Ads

Creating ads for Facebook can have some challenges if you’re just getting started. Start with a goal in mind. Do you want more likes or to drive traffic to your site? When using a picture, smiling faces are always the best performers. Facebook will reject your ad for a handful of things. You can’t run an ad with an image that has too much text. The numbers are changing all the time. Use Facebook’s image text check tool to be sure:
https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay

When running ads, be sure to narrow your focus as much as possible. You can target groups of users based on their location, interests, and age. You can even target users who have liked a Page of your competitors. The narrower your focus, the better your results.

Facebook ads are so inexpensive that you can run a few ads at the same time to see which one is more effective. Just like organic engagement, the more users interact with your content, the better it will perform and the lower it will cost.

Facebook has an entire online course for learning how to use Facebook ads:
https://facebook.exceedlms.com/student/catalog/list

Facebook Pixel

Use Facebook pixel to track traffic on your site. A pixel is a tiny bit of code you add to your web pages which will tell Facebook which Facebook users visited your site, and which page(s) they visited. You can use this for retargeting, or to figure out cost per conversion. Retargeting allows you to create a Facebook ad targeting people who have already visited your site. That can be very powerful when used correctly: You send a special offer targeting people who went to your webform and didn’t complete it the first time. You could even chain them together by giving them a better offer each time they visit.

Engagement

Facebook Page likes matter, but only for establishing a baseline of creditability. For services providers, a few hundred likes and a handful of good reviews is all you really need to accomplish that. What is more important than likes is engagement. When users like, share, and comment on your posts, ads, and boosts, they flag Facebook that the content is relevant. Facebook will then display your content to more feeds. Engagement is the real metric to attention, not likes. Facebook will display the engagement of each post on your business Page insights.

Conversions

OK. You have your business Page and business persona all ready to go. How do you get from there to a never-ending fountain of flowing leads? The process of capturing attention and turning that into a sale is called conversion. First, you capture attention. Then you offer value. Then you throw out an ‘ask.’ Perhaps the ‘ask’ invites them to fill out a webform. They complete the form and you now have a solid lead. Just be sure the transfer from your ad to the web page is cohesive or the user may get lost. As this series is about social marketing, my responsibility is to help you get people to the webform. From there you will need a sales pipeline and lead capture system, like oh, I don’t know, perhaps ServiceMonster…

Remember the PULL? The more engagement you get, the more Facebook will feed your content to our audience. Deliver content that has value and they will follow you. If all of your content is about you, your effectiveness will be minimal and [insert eye roll].

If you’re using Facebook Pixel with your webform and success page, then you will know what your conversion rates from Facebook actually are.

Continue on to part 6 in our series on social media for service businesses to read about a few good examples of how we and others have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.

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This is part 5 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is: 1. Introduction 2. Concepts 3. Social Platforms Overview 4. 7 Social Strategies 5. Using Facebook 6. Case Studies Business Pages STOP INVITING ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE! Seriously. It messes with the insights Facebook can give […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (4) 7 Social Strategies

This is part 4 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

STRATEGY: Bad

Having a bad social strategy is worse than having no strategy. I have seen business pages with missing or incorrect information. I have seen pages created for a business by the system where it becomes very difficult to claim ownership of them. I also see links to the owners’ personal, public profile, which they DO NOT use for business. They will, more often than I can believe, commit one or more of the five deadly sins.

1. Political content
2. Religious content
3. Sexually charged content
4. Drug related content
5. Personal attacks

Now these are general guidelines and can be bent if you understand you’re alienating a portion of your prospects. I always advise businesses and associations to steer clear of this type of content.

STRATEGY: None

You have nothing. Nada. Zero. This is kind of spooky for someone looking for your profile (and they will).

STRATEGY: Some

You have a Facebook Page and there is some information. Perhaps there is a link to your webpage and the three before and after pics you posted the day you started the business Page. Perhaps you tried a postcard-like campaign with little to no results or got discouraged when it became hard to entertain your Page likes without buying a boost from Facebook.

STRATEGY: Business Level 1

Your page is complete and accurate. It’s easy to call you or jump to your webpage. You make relevant posts at least a few times a month but how many before and after’s can you really do? You might have a handful of reviews and a few hundred likes on your page. You might have even tried a few boosts and got a handful of calls. Most business owners who think they do Facebook well live here.

STRATEGY: Business Level 2

Business Level 1 plus super consistent posts and boosts. Most of the content is shared from other sources with the occasional ad, picture, or video. When done well, the business can become a new authority in the local community. They either pay a third party or use a program like Hootsuite to manage posts. They have lots of reviews and plenty of likes on their page. They have some engagement on their boosted posts and are consistently getting jobs. These results will be similar to EDDM postcard campaigns in terms of response. The better your targeting, your content, and native attention, the lower your cost per client.

STRATEGY: Business Level 3

Business Level 2 plus amazing compelling original content crated by a personality in the business. Looking through the timeline of a Level 3 business Page tells a story and draws the user in. The story introduces them to the people, goes behind the scenes with friends and/or family, and shares their importance to the community. The strategy will also couple the website’s blog and newsletter content.

STRATEGY: Warrior

In order to build a warrior level social strategy, you need to triple down on your own personality. You know you’re headed true north when you’re your own biggest fan.

People will buy from people over businesses every time. To get the most out of your social strategy, your brand must have a face. You cannot participate in groups with a business Page. You cannot create a group with a business Page. You cannot like and comment on personal posts from your business Page. Your business Page can’t make a text-only post and expect to gain any attention. You can accomplish all of that, and more, with a business persona.

You end up with a Business Level 3 Facebook Page AND a personal profile you use ‘only’ for business. That’s not to say you don’t post personal stuff. You need to be personal if you want your audience to get to know you. Just stay away from the five deadly sins, share lots of your business content, and engage with your clients and prospects regularly, as a person.

Continue on to part 5 in our series on social media for service businesses.

This is part 4 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is: 1. Introduction 2. Concepts 3. Social Platforms Overview 4. 7 Social Strategies 5. Using Facebook 6. Case Studies STRATEGY: Bad Having a bad social strategy is worse than having no strategy. I have seen business pages with missing […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (3) Social Platforms Overview

This is part 3 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Pokémon Go

So it seems like the Pokémon Go media frenzy has finally died down, although there are still millions of players. Do you understand what just happened? Are you familiar with how it influenced business traffic? From an outsider, it may seem like a very silly young Millennial game, but as a student of technology and social media, I saw it a little differently.

The importance of augmented reality (AR) has not yet been fully realized. Think about this. In 10 years, your vehicle windshield will double as a computer monitor. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use it as a movie screen, but how about digital readouts of things that are happening in front of your car? A neighborhood kid could kick a ball into the street and your windshield will draw a highlighted graphic around the ball and alert you to its presence. In 20 years, we may have contact lenses that can do the same thing. I will never forget someone’s name again. I’ll be able to pull up their social media profiles before I even extend my hand!

Always be a student. Pay attention. If you find yourself scoffing at something which draws millions upon millions of users, check yourself. Your lack of understanding doesn’t change the outcome. Look for opportunity in even the most unlikely of places. Plenty of businesses had a big boom when they found their bike shop was Pokémon central.

YouTube

YouTube is now the second most widely used search engine in the world, next to Google, which means Google (who purchased YouTube in 2005 for $1.65 billion) is both the first and second most widely used search engine in the world. YouTube content can be a big player in your SEO strategy. Part of any complete social strategy should include a healthy amount of video. Be sure to post that content to a business YouTube channel and tag it correctly. Consistency and value are the two winning factors to developing an audience. Be an authority in all things [insert what your passion is for your business].

Twitter

Twitter’s primary purpose has evolved over time, from the leading PULL authority to an open chat site with links to everyone’s totally amazing blog. By following people and topics you are interested in, you’ll be fed news and information in those areas. Its tagging and communication systems are extremely open, but its 140-character limit keeps conversations focused on jabs. You can yell at a celebrity, and sometimes, just sometimes, they will yell back. Twitter itself has not had a single day of profitability. Monetization on Twitter is clumsy, slow, and extremely hard for service providers. Have a presence to understand it and respond, should someone tag you in a post, but if you’re looking for big wins and a complete level of understanding of social, spend your time somewhere else.

LinkedIn

Still the only professional network (have you heard about Facebook Workplace?). LinkedIn was created by the father of social media and PayPal partner, Reid Hoffman. The platform is as boring as the professional environment suggests. Typically, the posters are using automated software to post articles they have written, or ones they feel are professional. There is a pay-to-play professional subscription that has an interesting sales funnel feature. This can be an effective tool for business-to-business service providers. Microsoft purchased them for $26 billion dollars, which suggests to me they are trying to lock the corporate professions into a single Microsoft 365 platform.

Facebook

Facebook has nearly as many eyes as television and it’s still growing. Millennials (18-35) spend more time on Facebook than watching TV. The marketing and targeting engine is phenomenal. When done right, there are opportunities all over the place, but it takes a little bit of cash and a whole lot of work. Facebook is the best bet for service professionals and the focus of the strategies I’ve outlined in this series.

Instagram

Now owned by Facebook ($1 billion!), Instagram is a platform where people express themselves through images and short video. If it’s not beautiful, you shouldn’t post it. There are lots of 20-year-old life coaches, but service providers can use hashtags to bring in a substantial amount of leads if the market supports it (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, you get the idea). Pro Tip: #dogsofseattle. Instagram turned users, and Snapchat, on their heads when they introduced Instagram Stories recently. A simple change like that has an amazing ripple effect and can turn into a tidal wave of potential.

Snapchat

Think text or Facebook Messenger on steroids. I’m actually super excited about this one. While the platform is too new and the population to skewed towards 20-year-olds, the capabilities to interact with other people are pretty slick. I can have a conversation with my wife while in a store and super seamlessly send her short videos and pictures. I’m excited to try this with business coaching. Using Snapchat for lead generation is unlikely at this point but keep an eye on this one, and understand it.

Reddit

Dubbed ‘the front page of the internet,’ Reddit’s ability to draw crowds to individual content is staggering. Reddit users joke that if you found an article on Facebook, you’re at least two days behind the curve. No monetization platform. Viral videos and posts are completely by chance. The main reason the Gary Hite video went viral was because it landed on an OCD subreddit and picked up two million views in less than four days.

Continue on to part 4 in our series on social media for service businesses.

This is part 3 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is: 1. Introduction 2. Concepts 3. Social Platforms Overview 4. 7 Social Strategies 5. Using Facebook 6. Case Studies Pokémon Go So it seems like the Pokémon Go media frenzy has finally died down, although there are still millions […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (2) Concepts

This is part 2 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Channels

I like to think of all of your media outlets as channels. We have a blog channel, a newsletter channel, a Facebook channel, a Facebook persona channel, a Twitter channel, an Instagram channel, an Instagram stories channel, a LinkedIn channel, bulletin board channels, and direct mail channels (I’m sure I missed a few). Having many different options of distribution allows you to deliver a single piece of content in multiple ways. But it’s the content that’s the hard part.

Attention

If you’re going to put this all together, you need to understand that you’re an attention broker. Your job is to capture the attention of your potential market with a GIVE. Give away content that helps them in some way. Do this regularly and they will follow you. The more they engage with you and your message, the more they will see your messages organically. Then, every once in a while, post an ASK. Run an ad. Ask them to fill out a form. Ask them to buy. All of the advertising rules still apply. Present value. Give a call to action. Create a sense of urgency, but it’s the attention you really want. If they’re spending their time with you, they’re essentially a client already, they just haven’t purchased yet. Once you have their attention, you can direct it anywhere you like.

Content

Content is king. Consistent, relevant content is the key to turning social marketing into a serious growth engine. “What have you done for me lately” is the theme of the social internet. Content has a shelf life of about 24 hours. You can reuse quality content, but be careful. Don’t use past posts to fill the gap. Use them to drive value.

There are several different types of content you can use to draw attention.

• Share
Sharing content from other sites is a great way to get off the ground without having to invest too much in initial creativity. You would have to filter information you post, as you want your audience to rely on you to provide relevant, quality content to their feeds. Be discerning.

• Videos
Videos rule. Videos have the highest attention and lowest cost. Shoot quality video. Learn Adobe Premier. Always use good lighting and learn what drives engagement. Be innovative. Try lots of stuff and find a groove. Post videos on both Facebook and YouTube. They are video enemies. Don’t post a video on YouTube and link it to Facebook. If you’re concerned about consolidating your views, you’re going to have to let that go. It’s much more valuable to have your custom content available natively on those platforms.

• Memes
Memes are popular, easy to share, and allow you to deliver a great one-liner. For cleaning companies, use the same rules as postcards. Pets and kids with a short message is gold. ServiceMonster creates memes and shares them on Facebook so you can use them on your page. Search #stealthismeme on Facebook to grab some.

• Text Post
Text posts can exist only in the world of a personal page or business persona. No one cares when Microsoft or Apple give philosophical insight, but when Gates or Jobs say it, you take notice.

• Blog Link
Regular blog content will help your SEO and get your audience to connect with your business a little deeper than a 50-word Facebook post. There is a lot of information and advice about running a decent blog, but creating the content is why we care about it from a social marketing point of view. It’s original custom content to share, plain and simple.

• Ad
Ads, ads, let me count the ways. In Facebook alone the ad types are amazing. You can create ads to get likes on your page. You can create ads to make the phone ring. You can create ads to drive traffic to a website. You can create ads to boost a post on a business Page. The list goes on. Facebook has videos and information on all of this stuff. Use it, as it’s changing all the time. Stay sharp when you see a new content type or delivery style. Look into it. Take Facebook carousel ads. Facebook underpriced them to see if the users would accept them. Take advantage of those types of opportunities.

Hashtags

You will often hear reporters saying things like “trending on Twitter.” We base those numbers on conversations which include a common tag in the post. Let’s look at the following post: [Today I’m headed to #theexperience2016]. The hashtag #theexperience2016 is used to express an event that users can click on, and see all the other posts which use the hashtag #theexperience2016. We use a number of hashtags on different platforms such as #servicemonster, #stealthismeme, and #entrejoe. Search those hashtags on any social network and you should pull up content we have posted under those hashtags. Anyone can use them. Instagram and Twitter use them best, but Facebook is catching up.

Volatile Content

So Snapchat is ‘new’ according to the media, again. It’s actually not that new, but it’s starting to gain traction now that their daily active users surpass Twitter. Ouch. Here’s the thing about Snapchat. It serves volatile content. That is to say, the content you post there will be deleted shortly after the first view. If you post on you general ‘wall,’ it’s gone in 24 hours. It creates a safe environment to make silliness comfortable, but that’s the point. It also creates a sense of urgency.

Instagram recently introduced Instagram Stories which is also volatile content. Picture and short videos posted to your story will be destroyed in 24 hours. That’s good news for service providers. There are lots of creative ways I can see that working for you.

PUSH v. PULL

Understanding how people consume information with today’s internet is critical. In 2000 (only five years after the birth of the internet itself) if you wanted to find something, you used a search engine and searched for it. Chances are pretty good, if you’re reading this, you still consume the internet in much the same way. Understand that social isn’t a tool people use. It’s the way a large number of people consume content.

Advertising hasn’t changed that much since… well, ever. Sure, over the years the delivery methods changed. From wanted posters on a tree, to newspaper, mail, radio, television. Each one of those advertising tools is what the marketing world considers PUSH advertising. A business pushes an ad hoping to intersect with that perfect point where need meets attention. Social has completely changed the game. Now users PULL content to them. By liking, reading, watching, commenting, and subscribing to topics and people of interest, the social internet feeds users with content and ads they care about. It’s a huge marketing shift and one that benefits both the users and the business owners who can leverage it.

Gear

Get good gear. A GoPro is $200 and takes great video. The DJI Osmo is an amazing video camera with a built in gimbal, a 35mm 4K lens, and runs around $600. Get a lavalier or two as well. Lavaliers are the little mics that clip to your shirt collar. I would suggest the RØDE smartLav+. In addition, get a good DSLR camera with depth of field. In fact, you should start building a media kit.

Take a look at Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s the entire Adobe suite for $50/month. Then learn Adobe Premier. There are a TON of YouTube videos on these tools and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem.

Continue on to part 3 in our series on social media for service businesses.

This is part 2 in a series on social media for service businesses. The full series is: 1. Introduction 2. Concepts 3. Social Platforms Overview 4. 7 Social Strategies 5. Using Facebook 6. Case Studies Channels I like to think of all of your media outlets as channels. We have a blog channel, a newsletter […]

Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (1) Introduction

Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. Paying a company $400/month to post generic content to your Facebook Page and manage the occasional ad is far less effective than learning how to do it yourself. Notice I did not say “not effective.” A robotic, business-only approach is perfectly acceptable if you’re looking to get EDDM (every door direct mail) and postcard prospecting results.

I spend a lot of time talking to business owners about how to use social media as an effective marketing platform. I hope this series of posts will get you headed in the right direction, and clear up some of the confusion and fear many have. I can’t give you a map; instead, think of it as guide to writing maps. No one has this mastered. No one. It requires constant education, thought, and failure. The platforms are changing all the time. How users adapt is changing all the time. It requires wit, cunning, and a healthy ego to get the results we all want. And like anything else worth doing, it requires persistence. Social media marketing is a constant experiment in social engineering and the only way to win is to play the long game.

As I write this, Facebook is currently the service provider’s best source for monetizing social media. It’s also a great place to learn the basics because you can do so much with it. Your end game is acquiring leads and maintaining relationships with current clients. Your ability to market well on Facebook over the next three years is directly related to how well you understand it. Always be learning, and follow those who do it well (take the hint and follow me to steal all of my chops, live – links at the end). In three years, the window closes forever. It’s only a matter of time before Fortune 500 marketing departments realize their budget is more effective on Facebook and price the rest of us out. The same thing happened to pay-per-click a few years ago. Social marketing is extremely undervalued right now, but like pay-per-click, it won’t stay that way forever. Social media can be the answer to your growth, or the nail in your coffin. You can choose to use it effectively, but even for ‘professionals,’ it’s a little bit of both.

Social fear is real. Many people I talk with want to engage in social but are afraid of some potential scenario, afraid of rejection, afraid of looking silly, or afraid of failing. You will fail. Sometimes no one will show up. Then three will. Then 15. Then 26. Yes, maybe someone will be mean. Perhaps someone will leave a negative comment or review. Perhaps someone will just be a downright ass-hat. Remember you can only control your own actions. In business, in marriage, in life. If you handle yourself in a courteous, calm, and helpful manner, even negative comments or downright attacks can be handled with grace. Many times I have found these engagements to be an excellent opportunity. When other rational people see how you handle an irrational situation, they feel they’re getting a true sense of who you really are. Authenticity is critical to amazing social media results. Don’t be afraid of interaction. Embrace it. Just try not to let it eat at you too much. That’s the hard part.

You can practice your social skills, too. Talk to people. I don’t mean online. I mean in the grocery store. Engage the clerk or people in line with casual conversation. Project positivity and wit. Try a little bit of charm. You know, like we used to do. Smile more. Here’s a dirty little secret: You scale your business using social by engaging one-on-one. It’s totally counterintuitive, but that’s the social part of social. Realize how much that one ‘like’ really matters.

It’s not easy. It takes a ton of hard work. In the new frontier, business isn’t contained between Monday through Friday, 9-5. That’s a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow, but you can still have balance. You must use your passions to drive you. If you’re cheering on Friday and bummed on Monday, go get a company to do this for you, because you’re not going to have the drive to do it well.

Social media is the most powerful marketing engine of all time. I suffocate when I think about removing social strategies from our marketing plans. The return on investment (ROI) for service businesses has ventured into the ridiculous, if you’re using it correctly. Most businesses do not. Too many business owners fail to understand how to make this platform work for their business. I still hear a lot of people complaining about how Facebook Pages for business have changed. We’ve been posting on our business Page since 2010. Of course it’s changing. I understand you don’t like that you can’t reach the audience that likes your Page effectively without throwing down five bucks, but realize the value in the service. Stop bitching and adapt, because the market doesn’t care.

In 1995, if you didn’t have a Yellow Page ad, you were all but non-existent. In 2005, if you didn’t have a website and search engine optimization (SEO), you were all but non-existent. In 2010, if you didn’t have a webform, you were leaving money on the table (you have a webform right?). And in 2016, if you don’t have a Facebook Page, you will soon be all but non-existent. You’re asking a lot out of your clients if you’re not at the party.

More and more people are using social to decide where to spend their money. It makes sense. 100 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, 50 years ago, referrals were the driving force behind every business, and today, referrals are the driving force behind every business. People just happen to refer business to their friends via Facebook. Local Facebook groups are pushing leads to businesses they enjoy working with.

Business is a game of people. Of relationships. You make your money by selling solutions to problems. No amount of marketing is going to make someone with clean carpets get carpet cleaning. That’s why prospecting is so hard. You are hoping that some random chance will cause a client who has a problem to find you through a radio ad, a postcard, or a door hanger.

We all know the best leads come from referrals. We also know that our best clients are repeat clients. Repeat business has higher margins. Plain and simple. What makes referrals and repeat clients so much better than a cold lead? The relationship. You can actually establish that relationship in advance. That’s smart prospecting.

How much would you pay, to get in a room, in front of one thousand perfect potential clients? How much value is in the ability to talk with them, engage with them, present your goods and wares and your personality, your brand? Would you take a plane flight? Get a hotel room? Take a couple days away from the family and the business? Of course you would.

Do you ever think about TV and radio and lament on the reach that they present, and your lack of resources to reach that audience? Then understand that social media presents the most effective, lowest cost, and best targeted opportunity in human history. You are in front of your perfect clients on a daily basis. The effectiveness of television at a fraction of the cost. Sold? Yeah, me too. Moving on.

Continue on to part 2 in our series on social media for service businesses.

The full series of social media tips for service businesses is:
1. Introduction
2. Concepts
3. Social Platforms Overview
4. 7 Social Strategies
5. Using Facebook
6. Case Studies

Greetings business owners! My name is Joe Kowalski, and I’m the CEO of the CRM ServiceMonster. I’ll start with: I have nothing to sell you in this space. I don’t believe in buying social media maintenance services. We do not offer them. We do all of our own marketing in-house, as I believe you should. […]