The Importance of Google+ for Small Businesses

Are you going gaga for Google+?  Google+ can be intimidating at first but it has very important uses for business.  Therefore it is important to learn.

Google is an amazing company and their Google+ platform is taking off tremendously.  It’s not just another social media site and it’s true Facebook has a lot more activity however Google+ should not to be ignored.  Especially if you have a small business!

When you have a small business to run, it’s imperative to get your business out there in the social media realm.

Let’s start with HOW it works:

  • Go to Google – create a Google+ profile, you’ll find it at the top right corner.  Once created,  click +(Your Name).

Google+Profile

It’s that simple.  When you use Google+, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to create Circles (people you know or follow), creating your Tagline, and your Bragging Rights.  Make sure your profile is completely filled in with your location, education, and work.

Okay now that you have that set-up.  On the left side, you’ll see a button that says Home as you can see below:

Google Home screenshot

  • Click on the Home Button and you have a drop-down menu.
  • Click on Pages, this is where you’ll be prompted to create a business or personal page.

Google Pages Button

When you create a business page, it will ask what kind of industry and if you want to list local.

Pick Category

For any small businesses that don’t have their website together yet and you have a business that people need to come to you, the first option would be best (Local Business or Place).  This will list you in Google search depending on location to the searcher.  Let’s face it, when you are in need of a service what do you do?   You look it up online.  If it’s a small business that doesn’t have a website how else will you find them.  For example, I’m looking for a towing service.  See what comes up in my search below.

towing service map

Now I know there are a lot more services near my home but they don’t show up.  Businesses who’ve taken the time to set up Google+ location will be listed in the map marked in alpha order.  I highlighted the first 3 and those are not even close to where I live BUT those are the businesses that took the time to place themselves on the Google map.  Let’s look at the example below of a business that took a bit of time to set up Google+ page.

Google+ business info

Guess what no website BUT they have a Google+ page where you can see the location on the map, address, phone number, hours of business, and REVIEWS.  That means you can have customers put in their reviews for others to see on how much they love your business!   Word of mouth referrals are the BEST.

So… I just want to make it clear if you don’t have a website then at least do a Google+ page.  Get on the map!  You’re losing business not doing this.

Having a Google+ page doesn’t stop there.  Oh no! 

  • There are Communities you can join depending on your interests and you can network with people and businesses just like yours.
  • Add people to your Circles – Circles are categorized sections of people you know that are on Google+ too.  You can have Circles for family, acquaintances, people you “follow” (that means you’re interested in what they have to say so you follow them to get notifications when they post something on their page).
  • Posts – Post something interesting with a photo to share publicly.  If someone likes it they’ll click on the little +1 button.
  • Create events – Why not invite some people to your Grand Opening? For example, if you live in Greece, you could’ve went to the European Music Day shown below.  How cool is that?  Sorry I missed it but it looks like 15 people enjoyed it.

Visit Greece

Plan a Hangout – Once you have a good amount of people in your Circles this is good to use to chat with them and see them.  Maybe you have a new product you want to talk about and get their feedback.  Check out Hubble Space Telescope, they’re doing Hangouts once a month.

Hubble

There are SO many things you can do on Google+.  Give it a try for your business.

If you are currently using it, let me know in the comments.  I’d like to know how you feel about it and if it works for you!

Take care and Blessings,

Lillian De Jesus

10 Customer Service Tips for Non-Profits and Small Businesses

If you’re running any business the absolute essential key is Customer Service.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a small business, non-profit, or large corporation.

Customer Service is the only way the business survives. This is from my 15+ years of experience in customer support. Once you sell your service or product, what’s next? You need to retain that customer. Now I’m using the term customer very vaguely but look around you, EVERYONE is your customer. For example, if you’re in a non-profit organization your customer is a:

  • Certificant
  • Donor
  • Member
  • Volunteer
  • Vendor

These are critical aspects of your organization, if you lose one of these customers the business will not survive.  Therefore you have to invest in customer service skills whether it’s you, hired staff, or a Virtual Assistant.  Also keep in mind you are providing customer support by phone and internet (website, email, and social media).

HERE’S THE LIST:

1.   Answer the phone/email in a manner that the customer feels as if they are the only person you are concerned about.  Smile while answering, I know it sounds cheesy but it sets a positive tone.  Be sure to provide a greeting and your name.

2.   Listen very carefully. Do NOT interrupt.  Now I have learned this the hard way because when you’re in customer service for so long you can almost know verbatim of what the customer is about to say BUT you mustn’t take over the conversation.  Let them finish what they are saying, then you can speak.

3.   Show you CARE!  This is where you let them know what YOU can do for them.  However do not make any promises you can’t handle.  Nothing is worse than giving a customer misinformation.  Be honest.

4.   Wait it out with them.  If they are searching for something on your website, wait on the phone with them with step by step instructions until they find what they are looking for.  Or maybe they are just venting and they just want a shoulder to cry on.  Be there to listen.

5.   Never say, “I don’t know”.  If you don’t know then say, “Let me find out for you” and then find out.  Nothing is worse when you’re looking for help and the person that’s supposed to help you is clueless.  It’s discouraging.  You are to make them feel better not worse.

6.   Always follow-up and fast.  For example, if a volunteer took some time to go to your organization’s conference, follow-up with a kind letter or email of appreciation.  If a donor contributed $10 towards your program, be sure to follow-up with an appreciation letter or email.

7.   Provide easy access to your website.  Less clicks please!  According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, non-profit organizations fail to provide easy access especially for mobile-users.  Make it easy to navigate and user-friendly.

8.   Over-deliver!  Do what you do best and then some.  If they ask to have something on Monday, give it to them the Friday beforehand if possible.

9.   Ask for feedback.  How do you know if they are satisfied if you don’t ask?

10.        Give news – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Talk about any news that might affect them and give them plenty notice.  If there has been a mistake on your end be sure to apologize.  It shows you care about their time.

“Customer service is a range of emotions, there are highs and lows but you must maintain composure and bottom line let your customer know they are YOUR highest priority.”

Tweet

Check out this infographic for statistics on Customer Service tips:

Pin It I hope this was informative and is a reminder to keep Customer Service at your forefront.  I would love to hear from you! Let me know if your business or organization has stepped up to the plate with fantastic Customer Service or needs some help. Blessings, Lillian De Jesus

Stimulating Sunday – Life Lesson

This is where I blog about something silly yet stimulating and let you know what the life lesson is.   The life lesson can help you with your personal and/or professional lives.

February 2, 2014

I live in the country and I have 2 chickens.   A rooster and a hen, the rooster is an Ameracauna and the hen is a Barred Rock.  I haven’t really given them names.  I wanted to name the rooster Captain Ameracauna but my daughter said, “NO WAY”.  So I’ll call him Sylvester for now and I’ll call the hen, Brigitte.

Happy in the coop!
Happy in the coop!

Anyhow it’s been bitterly cold and the chickens have no electricity in their coop.  I felt bad for them and I tried moving them into the barn especially when it was below zero but they refused.  I prayed and hoped for them and they’ve been fine.  I saw them last night out the window and they were actually outside of the coop in the run to my astonishment just sitting on the 2 feet of snow just “chilling out”.  I imagined Brigitte telling Sylvester in a Zsa Zsa Gabor voice, “Dawling, we’ve been cooped up here for faar too long.  Let’s take a holiday!  We are free range for goodness sake.  Let’s stay on the snow and bask in the moonlight.  Isn’t that romantic?” and Sylvester says, “Yes, dear.”  Then I feared, either they will be eaten up by one of the creatures of the night or die of cold. Coop in snow

This morning they were still in their places on the snow.  I went out to give them their water and they were back in their coop looking very much rested.  Holiday was over.  So what’s the point of the story … We need to adapt.  We are not in control of everything in our lives especially the weather.

When the front door is frozen shut, the van is stuck in a snowdrift the size of an avalanche, and gasoline frozen in the snowblower we let the stress get to us.  We have to keep looking at the brighter things in life and hold onto them to keep us sane.

When you think you’re going to be left out in the cold with no help, think about who’s there with you.  Do you have the support that you need?  Family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Who’s with you to take a holiday in the snow to bask in the moonlight?

I’d like to hear from you.  I have 3 questions for you.

  • What do you do to relieve the stress in your life?
  • Do you ask for help when you need it?
  • What should I name my chickens? LOL

Take care and Blessings to you,

Lillian De Jesus

What’s Up… with Google Docs?

Google Docs is a remarkable product and if you haven’t had the pleasure of using it, I suggest you start.

Now I started using Google Docs when I first received my MacBook and I didn’t have Microsoft Office.   I have to say I was lost… I mean I was groomed and nurtured all my work-life for Microsoft Office and I have this new laptop (a Mac, which I was not too thrilled about) to explore and figure out how to produce documents.   I then discovered Google Docs for the first time and it was easy.   Google Docs provides you with same type of programs that Microsoft Office Suite provides but better.

First, you must set-up a Google account and log-in.   You’ll want to click on the Apps square button on the top right.   This will open up all the Google goodies you can access.

Google Drive is the cloud storage space of where all your Google Docs will be saved to and shared from.This means you can access it anywhere and any time as long as you have internet access.

Imagine you are working on a document that you need an off-site coworker to take a look at and make some edits.  You can share the document directly with the coworker.   This is great when a virtual assistant needs to share and update documents with a client.

Here’s a tutorial I put together for your viewing pleasure…

Let me know what you think of it and also if you’ve used any of the additional apps to your Google Drive.

Take Care,

Lillian De Jesus

Social Media Management for Small Businesses & Non-Profits

Many small businesses and non-profit organizations still don’t use social media to their advantage because they feel it’s too time consuming.  It definitely can take time to stay on top of several social media accounts such as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

How can you focus on social media when you have other priorities?

Let me tell you, social media is crucial to the success of your business.  Did you know that 72% of all internet users are active on social media?  It doesn’t surprise me… since my mama is on Facebook!

Say what!SHOCKING

This means your customers or members are looking for YOU on one of the social media networks.

  • Facebook has over 1.15 billion users.
  • Google+ has 359 million monthly active users.
  • Twitter has 215 million monthly active users.
  • Pinterest has 20 million active monthly users
  • Instagram has 150 million active monthly users

How do you know which social media sites to use and should you use multiple sites? 

You want to use social media to reach out and connect with your customers/members.  The sites that have more capabilities than others are: Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.  With these social media sites you can easily post contests and coupons, which means there is more engagement with customers/members.  At least have 2 social media sites to work off of.  Google+ is supposed to be more popular in the next couple years than Facebook, keep that in mind.

What will help you manage your social media networks?

The key is to have a social media management system in place and there are several out there some free of charge.  Here’s a few of them: Buffer, Hootsuite, and Netvibes.

The wonderful thing about social media management systems is that you can schedule your posts for any time you want.  There is a bit of science to when you should post to get the most engagement and clicks.  Basically content marketing is what you aim for in social media networks.  You’re not out selling your products.  You use social media networks as a tool to provide the skills and service you have in a fun way so people can see what you’re really about.  This is to show you’re professional but REAL.  Show your customers/members you care about them.

When should you schedule your posts?

The best time is when your customer/members …

  • Wake up in the morning – people check their smartphones as soon as they rise in morning.
  • Between work and dinner – you know people always check their smartphones in their commute going home.
  • Bedtime – when they get ready to lay down they have to check-in to see if they missed anything during the day.

According to Huffington Post Tech, it’s tricky to really pinpoint the best time because it depends on your audience.  They did find that user engagement rates were higher on Thursdays and Fridays for Facebook and the weekends were best for Twitter.  You will need to analyze your postings and see what works best for your company/organization.

Lastly, the social media management system is a great start in getting engaged with your customers/members and will save you time.  Try posting every day or every other day and schedule your posts.  Once you have your scheduled posts done, it will only take a few minutes to view any comments or discussion you will have on the posts.

Of course, your posts and comments will become greater in number because YOU ARE that awesome.  That’s when you need to think about hiring a Virtual Assistant to help you with your social media management.

Let me know what your thoughts are on social media management. I’d love to hear from you!

Peace,
Lillian

References:
http://www.business2community.com/social-media/22-social-media-facts-statistics-know-2014-0747014#1IM4hUA5HUDGPGG5.99

http://www.pamorama.net/2013/05/12/50-top-tools-for-social-media-monitoring-social-media-analytics-social-media-management-2013/

http://socialmediatoday.com/index.php?q=danielle-cormier/1510911/when-best-time-post-facebook

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/a-scientific-guide-to-pos_b_4262571.html