Why Every Small Business Needs a Social Media Presence in 2016

Any opportunity you have to increase your company’s visibility is valuable. Social media takes this basic marketing concept and expands it, increasing visibility exponentially in an era when the internet has become a primary source for information. Add the fact that most social media accounts are free, and you have an ideal marketing opportunity.

To date, the largest social media network is Facebook, where the average user has 230 friends. Companies who have active Facebook pages give their customers an opportunity to compliment or brag in front of approximately 230 people per post, thus increasing the authority of your brand. Promotion doesn’t stop there, however. Social media influences search engine rankings, meaning that promotion will extend beyond Facebook and into search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo—and these engines are often the first place potential customers will go to find the products and services that you can offer. Extend your social media presence beyond Facebook for maximum benefits. LinkedIn is ideal for promoting yourself on a professional level, while Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and YouTube are ideal for “humanizing” your business and interacting directly with customers.


Lastly, while the majority of companies do not maintain a blog, the social platform of blogging is an ideal way to promote and reinforce your reputation as an industry expert. Discussing key points and industry issues may not be the most appropriate approach to Facebook or Twitter, but a company blog is the perfect platform to exercise your expertise and dive deeply into unique product features or service offerings. Visitors to your website will see your web presence as engaging and thoughtful—a nice surprise when many companies are still struggling to flesh out their social media presence.


Money Talks, But Saving Money Screams

Many marketers consider coupons to be an unnecessary drain on a brand’s resources and steer clear of them entirely.  Some brands avoid coupons because they negate the brand positioning and have little or no impact on their bottom line. Luxury brands come under this school of thought. By and large, however, most brands succumb to the fast returns that coupons offer and use them extensively as part of their marketing strategy.

After all, most people like a good discount. In a recent study, 4 out of 5 shoppers stated they regularly use coupons for their shopping.

Are these brands indulging in quick-fix marketing or is there a deeper reasoning behind adopting coupons as a regular tactic? If coupons and deal-seeking behavior are so deeply ingrained in the psyche of users, does that mean that brands have become irrelevant in the chase for the deepest discount? Is loyalty dead, as is predicted by some experts?

Let’s find out.

Types of Coupons

Coupons can be of various types depending on the purpose that they are meant to fulfill. Some of the commonly used coupon types include…

  • Price off
  • Percentage off
  • Buy one, get one
  • Free shipping
  • Free complimentary products
  • Bulk-purchase discounts

How Coupons Affect Our Behavior

We know that shoppers love a discount or a coupon. However, what transpires when a shopper gets a coupon and others don’t is interesting.

Dr. Paul J. Zak from the Claremont Graduate University conducted a study in which some shoppers at a grocery store were given $10 coupons. The neurological effects of receiving a coupon were then studied by Dr. Zak and his team.

The results were surprising.

Compared to shoppers who did not receive any coupons, shoppers who received coupons showed 38% higher levels of the “happiness hormone” (oxytocin). Their stress levels were markedly lower with 32% lower respiration rates and 5% lower heart rates than the other shoppers.

It is logical to extrapolate from this data that users who experience happiness after using a coupon would associate this happiness with the product they purchased, thus making them favorably predisposed to such a brand.

Brand preference is also strengthened greatly by the availability of coupons. Some 44% of consumers from a survey found that coupons were extremely important in their final brand choice.

The same study also showed that 68% of users buy familiar brands using coupons. That means coupon usage and brand loyalty are positively co-related.

Moreover, that percentage indicates that a coupon program that customers value is a good way to get shoppers to come back over and over again.

Using Coupons Effectively

Scott Gerber of the Youth Entrepreneurship Council talked about the various ways in which coupons can be used by leading online retailers. Some of the strategies described include rewarding Facebook fans, breaking through the clutter of competition, giving a push to your affiliate strategy, or even just writing off a coupon as a customer acquisition cost.

But coupons don’t always have to be about offering the lowest price possible. In a lot of cases, just convincing the user that your price to value proposition is awesome is made easier using an appropriate discount or coupon. Your prices may not be the lowest in the market, but the perceived value of the product after the discount is applied becomes much higher than a deeper discount offered by a competitor on a lower-quality product.

Coupons or discounts can encourage customers to do the following.

Test new products

Entering a market that has established players already can be an uphill task for the strongest of brands. A good way to attract attention and encourage trials is to offer a price incentive for a short period of time. The key here is to not convert couponing into a sustained practice—but to use it as a time-bound promotion to generate trials and create a base of users familiar with your product.

Buy often, buy larger quantities

Bulk purchase coupons can encourage customers to buy large quantities at one go to avail a lower price. From the seller’s perspective, their doing so helps move stock. It also helps get users hooked on your product. Using the same product multiple times can be habit-forming.

By forcing a customer to buy a large quantity at one go, a brand forces him or her to use the product over and over again, thus forming a habit for the product. This is an investment towards future sales.

Another type of coupon is a frequency-based coupon (e.g., a coupon that offers 10% off on the total shopping amount if the user shops a minimum of three times in one week at the store). Just as customers develop habits by repeatedly using the same product over and over again, getting a user to shop over and over again at your store to qualify for a discount on the final purchase is a habit-forming practice.

Inspire a customer-service gesture

Customer service does not only have to be about solving a customer’s problems. It can also be about customer delight. Setting aside a few coupon codes for your customer care and front-desk staff enables them to surprise users with a coupon that stands in for a physical “thank you.”

Besides offering a disgruntled customer the solution to a problem, offering a coupon ensures that he or she is pacified at the moment. It also ensures that a bad experience does not sour his or her equation with a brand and that returns at least to redeem the coupons given.

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Deal-seeking behavior is a huge factor in shoppers’ purchase behavior, but that is not the only factor that motivates a user. Deals can be used to positively influence certain types of behaviors successfully, which may never have been possible without a real-world incentive.

Interested in trying online and printable coupons for your small business?  Check out our client The Coupon Mafia

CloudFlare: To Serve & Protect

We get asked often how we protect your website from Hackers, I.D. Thieves, Viruses, Malware and other types of attacks on your website, email and servers.  The simple answer, we use CloudFlare.

Now for a more detailed explanation.

CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through their intelligent global network. Cloudflare automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. They also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.


CloudFlare’s system gets faster and smarter as our community of users grows larger. CloudFlare has designed the system to scale with their goal in mind: helping power and protect the entire Internet.

CloudFlare can be used by anyone with a website and their own domain, regardless of your choice in platform. From start to finish, setup takes most website owners less than 5 minutes. Adding your website requires only a simple change to your domain’s DNS settings. There is no hardware or software to install or maintain and you do not need to change any of your site’s existing code. If you are ever unhappy you can turn CloudFlare off as easily as you turned it on. Their core service is free and they offer enhanced services for websites who need extra features like real time reporting or SSL.

Who’s using CloudFlare?

More than 2,000,000 websites and growing. Below is just a sample of the many customers from diverse number of industries using the service. CloudFlare is on a mission to build a better Internet and they offer the simplest way to a safer and faster website.


You can read more about their services HERE





Social Media Marketing Tips

1. Do join a conversation by using the native hashtag.

As a brand, make it a point to join the conversation with the most organic hashtag your users are already using. This can be a chance to strengthen your brand loyalty and have your followers and fans feel acknowledged.

2. Do use Hashtags on all platforms.

It’s not just a Twitter thing; honest. Developing a hashtag that can be used on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for instance, can help you widen your reach, while also continuing the conversation across all platforms. So, instead of pushing away your audience you’re encouraging them to continue the conversation wherever they feel the most comfortable doing so.

3. Do use hashtags to engage with your fans and followers (signal and noise quote).

“Social media is a source of a whole lot of noise, use [hashtags] as a way to create signal… not add to the noise.” And it makes sense. You don’t want your brand to become an annoyance to followers, you want to guide the conversation and encourage engagement.

4. Don’t add hashtags to every single word.

Adding as many hashtags to your sentence doesn’t add in any extra value for your follower. Actually, it does the opposite by making your dialogue on social media feel forced and too marketed.

5. Don’t use inaccurate hashtags (‪#‎spam‬)
It’s social media’s version of spam. Really, it’s one of the ways to isolate current and potential followers all at once. Use relevant hashtags that are in line with your voice on social media and one your followers will acknowledge.

Facebook’s Stealth Local Search Project

Facebook appears to be taking direct aim at local search companies like Yelp and Google by offering listings of local businesses and services, complete with user reviews. The new feature is designed for desktop-only but will work for mobile users (it’s not mobile optimized yet) and hasn’t been announced by Facebook, Here’s what you’ll find:

Visitors to Professional Services are presented first with a page that has their current location pre-selected. Searches can be made within that area by typing into a dialog box that serves up business categories like plumbers, dentists, photographers, beauty salons, pharmacies, pizza places and so on.



There are at least 85 business types in an “Explore other services” section, and even more suggestions appear when you start typing into the search box. Need a recommendation for a taxidermist? Or the the best place to pick up supplies for a carnival? Facebook might be able to help, linking listings for the more than 50 million businesses that have Facebook Pages with people’s reviews.


Search results are displayed in a way that takes Facebook’s five-star rating system into account, but results aren’t strictly ranked by how many stars a business averages. Given Facebook’s deep knowledge of individual preferences, results are likely customized for users depending on their previous interactions with a business’s Page or whether someone they are connected with has reviewed a business on Facebook (We saw slightly different results when we were logged into Facebook compared to when we searched while logged out).

The results page displays businesses’ contact information and hours of business, and excerpts of reviews (with a link to see more reviews on the business’s Facebook Page). The services results page also includes a map that shows where businesses are located and links to similar businesses in adjacent areas.


People can also explore other areas in the feature pretty much anywhere on the planet. Users can seek out the highest-rated hotels, or search for the best pizza as long as there are reviews and ratings on Facebook for the business.

It’s not clear how Facebook Professional Services may integrate with Facebook Places, the social network’s local search directory that provides people a way to explore geographic locations through the eyes of Facebook friends and strangers. Some believe that Places could be a potential Yelp killer, if only Facebook promoted it more and, crucially, made it available on mobile devices. Now, Facebook might have two Yelp killers in the works.

We’ve sent an email to Facebook asking for comments and will update if we hear more.