Forming a Social Media Strategy: Claim or Create your Online Business Listings

My Business Is Small And Local. I Feel Like We’re Getting Lost In Social Media Services…

Many individuals and organizations that launch websites and blogs and implement Internet marketing strategies often forget that the reach of the Internet extends worldwide. While there is nothing inherently wrong with inadvertently reaching Internet users around the world, it can be frustrating for a small business that seeks to target a local audience to see their resources being spent to reach individuals that will never conceivably be customers. If your business specializes in services unique to Colorado or the Western United States, reaching readers in Belarus or Saudi Arabia is mostly likely a pointless endeavor.

If your business or organization specifically caters to a local market, it is advantageous to link your social media accounts with online business directories as part of your social media strategy. However, due to previous marketing arrangements and employee turnover, many businesses struggle with unifying and updating all of their business directory listings. If you discover that your business has a listing on Yelp, CitySearch, Google, ThinkLocal, Dex and Supermedia, but you have no idea how to access or update these listings, then you should immediately begin the process of reclaiming these listings.

Since I Founded My Small Business Ten Years Ago, I’ve Gone Through Three Different Marketing Companies. Where Do I Begin?

When it becomes difficult to track how many online business directory listings your business or organization already has, it is important to take a step back and reclaim these listings before registering new ones. Unlike web service or social media companies that cater to individuals, online business directories understand that their users are professionals, businesses and organizations that may experience contractor or employee turnover, leading to abandoned accounts and listings. Almost all of these companies have procedures in place to reclaim their account or listing. However, before you begin there are a few steps that you can take that will make the process easier and less chaotic. If you have never used a marketing company or employee to manage these listings in the past, you can disregard the first step.

1. Collect Information On Previous Directory Administrators.

Make a short list of all of the marketing companies and/or employees you have used in the past to manage your online business directory listings. It is important to make note of names and email addresses. If you are able, it is a good idea to contact these companies or individuals and advise them that you are reclaiming these listings; if a password reset or confirmation email is inadvertently sent to them in the future, they may be willing to forward these emails to you. Even if you have lost contact with these companies or former employees, or worse currently have an antagonistic relationship with them, it is still valuable to establish who was administering your listings.

2. Moving Forward, Establish A Single Administrator And Corresponding Email Address.

If you have used multiple marketing companies or employees to manage your listings in the past, one of the most frustrating aspects of reclaiming lost directory listings and accounts is figuring out which administrator and email address is tied to which listing and account. In the future, it is a good idea to establish a single administrator and a single email address assigned to that administrator and then use that contact and email exclusively in the future for all accounts, both old and new. It is also a good idea to use an email address that is administered by your IT administrator, preferably through your domain. This will allow you to easily reclaim the email address in the future.

3. Create A Universal Set Of Directory Information.

It may not seem important or relevant at first, but it is a good idea to establish from the beginning exactly how you want the various components of your online business directory listings to be worded and presented. It is important to remain consistent when establishing your brand on the Internet. It may not seem at first to be a big deal if you have one contact number listed on one directory and another contact number listed somewhere else, but you can quickly lose track of what contact information is listed on which site. If a cell or fax number changes, how may directory listings will have to be updated? Are you losing potential business because customers aren’t reaching the right phone number?

Before you begin, you should make a universal list of your contact information. In the future, when you reclaim or create a business directory listing, make sure that you are using this universal list consistently. This list can include your business or organization’s name, main phone number, fax number, alternative phone number, physical and mailing addresses, website address and main email contact. If you are an individual, you should also ensure that you are listing the same cell phone number across all directory listings.

Once you have this information collected and organized, you will be ready to begin creating or reclaiming directory listings.