Oct 182010

It may not have happened yet to your businesses’ Google Places, but soon you will be seeing a new look to the review section of Google Places. As with all changes Google, this can be either good or bad news for the local small business. But first below is how it looks:

Google Review Changes

More Changes for Google Local Business Places

Talking the time to make it as easy as possible for customers to review your business on a variety of sources just got a big shot in the arm. Google made the decision to place the third party reviews above the fold and above Google’s own reviews. Most people do not scroll so reviews that are placed directly on Google may not be seen. Potentially, your best reviews on Google will be hidden behind old content from years ago on third party sites. On the positive side, a review on Yahoo shows not only on Yahoo local, but in Google as well. Total exposure is the goal, not just showing well on Google.

The first third party site displayed is the review site that has the most reviews (opentable.com above), then up to two other third party sites (yelp.com & tripadvisor.com) are displayed.

It is somewhat technical, but Google has also announced the development of “Rich Snippets” for local search which means that testimonials placed on your website could be aggregated on Google Places and treated as a review.

Key take home points

  • Create a review page to make it easy for people to see and review your business
  • Consider updating testimonials on your website so Google will capture and place them on Google Places
  • Do not concentrate on Google as the only place to direct good customers to review you.

My guess is that Google is continuing to develop Google places as the prime access point for smart phones to use for local business.  So keep up and continue to provide and link information about your business on a variety of local third party websites.

Aug 262010

If you read my post from yesterday (Time for Small Businesses to invest in Facebook?) I think that this may finally be a marketing opportunity for many small businesses.  Below are some of the articles I found to research my investigation:

How to use Facebook Places

Facebook’s How to Video
A Field Guide to Using Facebook Places
Keep Facebook Places From Driving You Crazy

Marketing Opportunities of Facebook Places

Three ways business can take advantage of Facebook Places
What Facebook ‘Places’ Means for Marketers and Developers

Competitors & Partners – Facebook Places

Why Recommended Places Are the Next Big Thing in Location
To 100 million and beyond with Google Maps for mobile

The Dark Side to Facebook Places

How to Almost Sabotage a Dinner Party With Facebook ‘Places’

Aug 252010

The most often asked question I get working with small businesses about developing their Internet presence is “Should I promote my business on Facebook?”  Generally I believe that there are many more advantageous activities a small business should do (Google Places / Reviews / Internet Activity)  before taking on the effort and expense of promoting a small business on Facebook.  But with the announcement of Facebook Places my opinion has changed.  Every small business should create a Facebook Place, but only  businesses where people meet their friends (ie. Restaurants, Gyms, Events, etc.) should spend the time and effort to maintain their Place page on a real-time basis.

Facebook Places

Is it Time to get on Board the Facebook Train?

Facebook Places (just announced) is a direct competitor to Google Places.   Any small business that wants to take advantage of people shopping, and looking for places & services with their Smartphones should consider developing their Facebook presence.

What is Facebook Places?

Facebook Places is a mobile product that  can be accessed through Facebook’s most recent iPhone app or via on other phones by accessing touch.facebook.com.  If a Facebook Place is already created, a business can claim its Facebook Place and merge their existing Facebook Fan Page with Facebook’s Place page. Facebook Places is similar to Google Places because information about the business is created and available.  The extra spin is that Facebook allows Facebook users to “check in” themselves and any of their Facebook  friends.  Check out Facebook’s video below to get a better understanding of Facebook Places:

Why should I care?
Remember that Facebook is the #1 application used on iPhones and Droids.  When people check into a Facebook Place, they are broadcasting that business to their Facebook network and any network of a friend they may have also checked in.  Right now if  10% of FB users use Facebook Places , that’s 50 Million people!  Over 100 Million people a month using Google Maps on mobile phones to find local businesses, Facebook Places may instantly have 50% of the value of Google Places.

I am not yet recommending investing in Facebook Places for all businesses. But if you are a restaurant or a business where people meet their friends,  Facebook Places could become as useful as Google Places, Review sites (ex. Yelp or UrbanSpoon) and Twitter combined.

For some large consumer brands such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks, their Facebook Fan page is becoming more important than their own websites.  Kraft Foods’ Oreo is the No. 3 brand page on Facebook with an 8.7 million fan base growing at a clip of 71,000 a day.

At a minimum I would recommend that you search Facebook to determine if they have created a Facebook Place for you business.  If Facebook has not I would create one.  This is a small effort for any small business, that could be the next big thing in promoting your business.  As always if you need help give me a call or send me an email.

This is a big topic and Part I of a series of Posts about Facebook Places I look to develop.  If you want more information now, here is a list of useful Facebook Places Articles.