Tribune's 435 Digital and Local Business

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Tribune not long ago launched 435 Digital; a social media and web-focused subsidiary of the Chicago based company. Forward-thinking media companies like Tribune are smartly diversifying their advertiser product line, with digital first offerings like social media, seo, site development and other services that small business is asking for…more often.


As we shared in a previous post, consumers now get over 50% of their media & information from online. Compare this to the fact that local businesses still only allocate 4% of their marketing budgets to online. Imagine when local businesses wake up to this disparity.

While it’s true that local business is quickly moving online, unfortunately they’re making quite a few mistakes along the way. I recently spoke with Tracy Schmidt; a social media consultant from 435 Digital to share some of these far-too-common errors.

1. Jumping on the social media bandwagon without a plan.

Local business operators often think: “Oh geez, we have to get on Twitter! Don’t we have an intern who just graduated high school? Everyone’s on Twitter and Facebook. We have to be there too!”

The problem is they haven’t developed a plan, and a set of objectives. This is a recipe for failure.

2. Not sure which metrics are important.

You have to know and understand which specific metrics you’re following, in order to judge the success of your strategy. Some important metrics are: customer conversions, purchases, increase of readership, opt-in emails collected, Facebook fans/Twitter subscribers, etc.

3. Using rogue social media gurus.

There are a lot of so-called social gurus out there who claim to be interactive experts. Sure, they can build a Facebook page, but they have no clue how to craft a social media strategy that works for a specific business or objective.

4. Having the intern do everything.

I’m not making fun of someone who’s between the ages of 19 and 21. But just because you can text on your iPhone or post pics on Facebook, that doesn’t qualify you to handle the critical online strategy for a business. Far too often, the business owner dumps off all that ‘icky’ web stuff to the intern or youngest person on the staff.

5. Not getting professional assistance to get started.

Most small business owners need some level of assistance, at least while they’re getting started in the online space. This early hand-holding and direction will make a huge difference in attaining goals and objectives.

6. Hiring web developers who keep the client in the dark.

It’s a dirty little secret of some web developers. They won’t explain all of the tools they’re using to build your site. They’ll simply say: “just spend $5,000 so we can build you a really sweet Flash website.” They conveniently forget to tell you that your beautifully animated site won’t be seen by Google and it won’t display on your iPad or iPhone. Bummer.

7. Thinking “Me, me, me, me, me”– instead of sharing first

Often when somebody starts to tweet, they’re not sharing information or having a conversation. It’s all about them. It’s about what they think personally and what they are trying to sell. If you’re not going to share and be a part of a conversation, you’re most likely going to fail.

8. Mixing business with personal

I follow many people on Twitter that are experts at one digital thing or another. 90 percent of the time they turn me on to something I wasn’t aware of. It makes me sort of bond with that person from a business perspective. But then all of a sudden, they’ll tweet or post something that pushes their personal thoughts on something like politics, sex or religion. It’s like your mother told you: these are the three topics you never talk about in mixed company. For some reason, people often forget this golden rule when online.

9. Not adopting “slow & steady wins the race.”

You don’t need to do everything all at once. You’ll burn out. Just do one or two things a day–build up slow and steady.

10. SEO is important, but content & conversation should play lead role

Don’t automatically think that SEO (search engine optimization) is the most important thing. Example: Let’s say I find your site in position #1 on Google, and then I click through. When I get there and the site is confusing or lame, I’m outta there. I don’t really care how great your SEO expert is, and how high up your listing was on the search engine results page.

— Mel Taylor
www.MelTaylorMedia.com
Online Revenue Strategy & Training for Hyper-Local Media

 


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.