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Google has been a highly resourceful search engine that has revolutionised and given life to our online experiences. For businesses just starting out or those that are already established, it’s important that your customers are able to find you online. Since Google’s aim is to help people find businesses closest to where they are, a Google My Business listing will not only help potential customers find you on Google, but it will greatly contribute to your online success.

So, what exactly is a Google listing and how do you go about getting one?

Google My Business is an all-in-one free (that’s right) tool that allows you to manage and control your digital presence in local Google search engines and Google Maps. You can post updates, connect and engage with your audience, gather reviews for your product and service.

Take a look at the image below, when your business name or keywords related to the product or service you offer is entered into Google, (eg: web design companies in Bellville), you’re likely to appear in search results.



To start the listing process, first you need to create your listing, then the account has to be verified. Once those steps are completed, you can then optimise the account for search, and to better promote it.



Step 1: Creating your account

Google has simplified the process by guiding you through each step.

First, you want to ensure you’re logged into an existing Google account. Once logged in, head on over to https://www.google.com/business/ to start the process.

Find your listing

Once you’re on the Google My Business homepage, you want to establish whether there is an existing listing for your business, this is if you’ve previously created a listing.

When you click on manage, you’ll be redirected to the following page where you can either find your business or start setting up a new listing.



Choose your name and category

If there is an existing account, you can proceed to claim it. If it’s a new account, you’ll proceed to the page that requests your business name, the category that best describes your business.

Add your location

If you have offices or a physical store, you can include this, as it will show on Google Maps or when people are searching for you. Hereafter, you’ll have the option to include additional areas you may serve or deliver to customers (if applicable).

Add your contact details

Include all the necessary contact details that will help customers get in touch with you, all contact details you enter . Here, you can also include your website. And if you do not have one, Google allows you to create a free, basic website (this will not include your official domain registration or emails and hosting).



Set up completed

You have now successfully completed step one and can start managing your content within your Google My Business Listing.





Step 2: Account verification

You’ll need to confirm that the business is yours by verifying the account. Google permits account verification in two ways, you can either;

Postcard verification

Have a postcard mailed to the address under which you’ve listed the business. For businesses based in South Africa, this usually takes roughly 21-22 days to arrive via post. The card will look as follows, and you’ll need to follow the steps on the card to proceed with verifying your Business Listing.


Verification via email or phone

Although this method is the easiest, it’s worth noting that not all businesses are successful in verifying via email or phone. If your business is eligible, you’ll be prompted to either complete this step via email or phone, to which the code will be sent.



You’ll be taken through a series of additional steps to complete your listing;

Listing your services Adding your business description Adding images of your business - this can be products, your offices or images relevant to the service you offer.

Thereafter you’ll be directed to your business listing dashboard where you can start filling in all relevant information to optimise your listing.



Step 3: Optimising your listing

Optimisation is key to getting your customers to find your business. It’s worth mentioning, an optimised listing requires constant and consistent efforts. It’s not about adding a lot of information, it’s about adding the right and most relevant information.

  • Focus on content that is most relevant to your customers
  • Have images that will appeal to your customers
  • Be sure to manage and respond to reviews (both good and bad)

An optimised account includes the following:

  • A cover image that is a clear reflection of your company, since it will be displayed at the top of your listing, it needs to be the correct size and resolution.
  • Regular posts to keep visitors informed and up to date. Don’t post for the sake of posting, your content should at all times be purpose-driven.
  • Responds to customer reviews.
  • Allows for direct messaging.

Like any other efforts invested into getting your business seen, a Google My Business listing is an investment that’ll pay off in the long-run. To get started with your listing, head on over to https://www.google.com/business/, or if you need professional assistance, get in touch with us and we’ll help you set up a fully optimised listing.

We’re all familiar with the term “what’s trending”. Every year there’s a round-up of new trends you can expect to see make waves. Ones that’ll grace us with their presence a little while longer and others that have outlived their 5 seconds of fame.

Lets take a look at what’s hot and what’s not in the world of social media:


TikTok 

TikTok, the social platform that has taken centre stage and continues to shine bright during quarantine. Move over Gen Z, you’ll find a number of Millenials and Gen X users who can give you a run for your money. 

Launched in 2016, this 4-year old platform currently stands at 800 million users worldwide. Impressive, right?! As a short-form video platform, TikTokkers can create original content, recreate scenes from movies or music videos and so much more. Their mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy - both of which they’ve nailed. 

Did you know, of the 800 million users TikTok has, 500 million originate from India?  


Video content

YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram lives - need we say more? Video is big, and we’ll continue to see it increase in popularity for some time to come. 

Why is this great for business? For one, you better your chances of reaching a wider audience. Add in video’s ability to help you better communicate your message to your current and potential customers, your competition will have the odds stacked against them. 

And while some may say it’s an investment that can cost a fortune, that’s not entirely true. Although you may need specialised equipment or a professional to shoot or edit advanced video content. It is highly possible to produce DIY videos your audience can relate to. 

And speaking of relatable content, real and raw (unedited and unscripted) videos have become a big deal and have a massive impact on audiences. 


Communities / Groups 

Communities and groups have somewhat been underappreciated. But consider all the Facebook community and business / networking groups you belong to, you’ll see there’s more worth in them than we’re willing to give it credit.  Groups and communities have been around for a while. It’s where like-minded individuals join to share ideas and knowledge. 

In 2020 we’re saying YAY to  rallying your supporters together in a brand community to keep them informed and interested. 


Instagram likes

If you’re one to count the number of likes your Instagram posts get, brace yourselves, Instagram has started hiding likes! While this has only been implemented in Canada, the US and a few other countries, we can most certainly expect to see it be rolled out in South Africa too. This hot topic has had many naysayers disapproving of the idea, but here’s what you need to know:

CEO, Adam Mosseri announced, the reasoning behind making likes private or hiding them is to make it less about competition and more about connecting and conversations. 

Check out the clip where he explains why likes are being hidden

https://twitter.com/i/status/1192962986224128005 

There’s however no reason to freak out. Likes won’t disappear, instead, it will be hidden to your followers and will only be viewable to you. How will this impact businesses? There’s no major impact on brands, the only difference is, brands will now be forced to shift their focus to becoming more creative with their content and how their audience connects and engages with the content. And in our opinion, that’s all-in-all a step in a more positive direction for businesses. 


Paid advertising

“If you want to make money, you need to spend money”, so profound and so true. Social media platforms in South Africa collectively have over 1 million users on EACH of the major platforms. 

That’s a lot of potential business! And with targeting becoming more and more precise, social media platforms are allowing you to reach more people faster and more effectively.  


Social listening

Many speculated and questioned, is this real? Are brands listening in on conversations? Yes, but not in the secret agent kind of way. Social listening is merely a way for brands to suss out what people are saying about a brand / industry by keeping a watch on online conversations. 

If you’re going to sell your product or service to an audience, you need to have an understanding of who you’re selling to and what they need or want. 

When you listen, you learn; and when you learn, you’ll sell better and faster. 

Below are some of the not so hot trends we can see fade out on social media. 


Long video ads

Who doesn’t love a good video ad? Video is progressing rapidly, but no one is truly intrigued by a 3-minute long video ad. If it’s relevant, to the point, catchy and creative; your ad will appeal to the masses. Ideally, you want your ad to be between 30-90 seconds long. In doing so, it’s easier for the viewers to digest, you can easily hook them and they’re far more likely to take action.

We’re not saying longer videos don’t work, but when we consider audience preferences, shorter ads in present times have far more of an impact and a higher conversion rate. 


Generic visuals

Marketing has evolved to such an extent, it is now perceived as an extension of your customer service. Brands are digging deep and focusing on connecting with their audience on a more personal and relatable level. Images play an important role in this communication and connection, so generic images just won’t cut it on social media anymore.

Here’s some key points for getting your message across with visuals on social media:

  • Authenticity is EVERYTHING - be true to who you are

  • Design with your audience in mind - what’s intriguing to them?

  • Research what’s hot - trends exist for a reason 


As marketers, graphic and web designers, trend watching is a BIG deal - mostly because it is relative to the success businesses experience online. And we’re all about putting our best foot forward for our clients.

An unprecedented event like the Coronavirus will have us question more what will break us and believe less in what can potentially make us.

In times when uncertainty surrounds us and we’re faced with obstacles that can severely impact what we’ve achieved and still hope to achieve, we begin questioning our survival.

To help your business rise to the top during bad times and remain at the top during good times, there are some fundamentals every business needs to survive.


1. Have a plan

Every business has a foundation on which it is built. All your decision-making, failures and success will be centred around the plan you have in place. It helps you decide which decisions to make when, keep track of the goals you set out to achieve, ensures everyone’s on the same page and prevents chaos from erupting.


2. Invest in knowledge

Knowledge is power! To grow professionally, we need to continuously invest in becoming knowledgeable. For teams especially, learning skills such as communication and teamwork are as important as the professional skills needed to fulfill their roles within the business. Knowledge will have a direct impact on the success of your business.

The knowledge and skills we acquire through learning allows us to:

  • Achieve more goals
  • Have a better understanding of our customers, their needs and how to properly meet them.
  • Build more meaningful relationships with both employees and customers.

3. Be willing to adapt

Stressful situations can completely throw us off course. But just as adaptation is necessary in our everyday lives and everyday situations, it is equally important in business, and even more so during a crisis.

Adapting shows resilience to a stressful time and an openness to change. Your business’ ability to evolve and adapt to change will help you tackle problems and make room for new and better opportunities.


4. Take risks

Business 101: you need to be willing to take risks! Risks mean choosing to face the fear of uncertainty, regardless of whether that risk will pay off or not. When you take risks, you learn valuable lessons that will help you make better decisions in future.

The benefits of risk-taking:

  • It builds confidence
  • Helps you step out of your comfort zone
  • It can help take your company from good to great

5. Set goals

Your success in business is only as good as the goals you set and the effort you put into achieving them. Goals play a pivotal role in the long-term vision of the company. They drive motivation and determine. The more goals you set, both big and small, the more focus you’ll gain, and the more that helps determine what you truly want.

In business, challenges and change is inevitable. Your business can thrive one day and the next you’re dealing with a blow that you didn’t anticipate or plan for. Your survival in business runs parallel to your survival as a human being.

Have you ever wondered how so many of the brands you follow or admire on social media manage to have messaging that is on point, images that are visually appealing and videos that are creatively constructed? They seem to just know how to appeal to their audience.

The hype around social media and the importance of social media marketing won’t die down anytime soon. And the need for a social presence is becoming more and more evident.

But, what exactly is social media marketing and why should business owners note its importance?

Social media marketing is the use of social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok etc) to promote your business and to connect with an audience.

Through social media marketing and establishing a social presence for your brand, you can:


1. Create brand awareness

As internet users, we spend a large portion of our time on social media, and with over 1 million social media users on each social platform in South Africa (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn), you want to be where your audience is.

By creating content relevant to your product or service, providing information about your business and sharing your portfolio; you can increase your social following and engagement on your social media pages.


2. Make money

For the majority, the goal is to make money from the efforts invested into social media marketing. But you need to be tactful in your approach to sell, when you come across as too salesy, you’ll discourage people from taking action.

So, how do you target the people you’re looking to connect with? You can offer incentives for participation in contests or do launch giveaways. Any promotional content you put in front of your audience that aims to convert should be end-game driven, but your audience and their needs and wants still need to be kept in mind.


3. Keep an eye on the competition

No matter the industry you are in, there will always be another company or an individual you’re having to compete with. And with more and more service providers entering the market, this can make it hard for you to compete.

Keeping an eye on your competitors allows you to assess where their strengths and weaknesses lie, how much of a threat they pose and the opportunities you can identify to better your product or service.


4. Connect with your audience

Social media is at its core all about connecting. Keep in mind that people buy from people. Through connection, you can build meaningful relationships and rally a team of loyal supporters. Make responding to their questions or comments a habit. Ask for their input and feedback. And make an effort to understand their interests.


Creating your social media marketing strategy

Your efforts will prove to be fruitless if you don’t have a plan (strategy) that details what you wish to achieve, when you wish to achieve it, how you plan to go about achieving it and why you’re taking certain steps to achieve your goals.

To build your social strategy, you need to:


1. Determine who your audience is

You need to have a well-rounded idea of who you are wanting to target. Who it is you’re ideally looking to sell to. Think about the needs and wants of these individuals and how you can or plan to fulfil it.

Your ideal customer can be characterised based on:

Location - where they are situated. Are you looking to target people based in a particular area or nationwide?

Age - what age group does your ideal customer fall into?

Gender - is your product or service best suited to men or women?

Interests - does your ideal audience have any definitive interests and buying / spending habits?

Example: I am targeting women in South Africa (nationally) aged between 20-50 who have an interest in makeup and spend on average between R800 - R1 000 per month on makeup products.


2. Set goals

It’s important that you give careful thought and consideration to what exactly it is you wish to achieve. For some, the goal might be to increase sales, while others may wish to grow their following. Whatever your goals are, keep the S.M.A.R.T principle, as demonstrated below in mind.




3. Determine which platforms you’ll target your audience on

Social media platforms have as many differences as they do similarities. And although they’re all great in helping brands create awareness, the platform(s) that best suit your business strongly depends on where your audience spends their time and the product or service you offer.

Example: you’ll have a better chance of finding professionals on LinkedIn, while teens and young adults live on Instagram and TikTok.

This is not to say you can’t market your brand on multiple platforms. Your messaging is what will differ based on the platform and the audience each of them are intended for.


4. Creating content that’s interesting

The content you create and distribute across the various social media platforms need to serve a purpose. As a general rule of thumb, your content needs to:

  • Educate / inform people about your product or service and industry.
  • Be engaging (funny, interactive like Facebook or Instagram lives)
  • Motivate people to take action
  • Show that you’re knowledgeable and in the know
  • Have relevance
  • Show that you care


5. Put a schedule together

Content that is planned and scheduled in advance will save you time, make it easier for you to track how your content is performing. You will get a better indication of what’s working and what’s not working for both your brand and your audience.

Facebook’s scheduling feature makes it easy for you to schedule a number of posts in advance.

For scheduling of multiple posts across multiple platforms, third-party apps like ZohoSocial, Buffer, Sprout Social and Hootsuite will help you plan all your content and provide you with feedback reports and insights.


6. Measure the results

Input = output. It’s important that you measure and track the results of your efforts, this will give you a good indication of how to plan your social campaigns and content calendars.

Your goals will determine the metric by which you measure your results.


With so many factors to consider, we understand social media marketing can be overwhelming. But to ensure you get the best return on investment, it’s important that your social efforts are done right.
 

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Web Partner is the best and most affordable web design company. Our team consists of professional website designers and passionate digital marketing specialists who strive to provide our clients award winning web design solutions that drive real results. Our services and clients stretches nationally, from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, through to Bloemfontein, East London, all the way down to Cape Town. Our team has extensive knowledge in all aspects of website design, hosting, domain registrations & transfers, website maintenance, graphic design, software and app development.

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We offer a variety of website design and digital marketing packages that’s tailored to suit your specific business needs. Whether you have a small business that requires a web presence, or whether you need a more customized ecommerce shopping cart solution, our specialized team will work closely with you towards a strategic solution to enhance your brand.

As we all know, things change quickly and without much notice. Our commitment to stay ahead of a constantly changing industry drives us to continue to develop and enhance our skills and knowledge with regular training and development of our teams to stay up to date with the latest web design and digital trends. With more than 10 000 completed projects by 30+ skilled and creative digital specialists, you can rest assured that you’re working with leading industry specialists.

Considering these website design trends, we’ve seen many designers implementing new scrolling effects, animated designs and over aggressive modern features. Designers tend to move away from flashy and complicated designs to more simple design layouts, with well used typography and navigation, specifically designed for a friendly mobile navigational experience. Often the simplified solution is the most efficient one, improving user experience and higher conversion rates with targeted messaging and a clear path to success. Our goal is not to move away from current trends, but to continue to think outside the box to create website designs that are innovative, creative and unique.

We are obsessed with creating a memorable and friendly user experience for our clients’ businesses. Whether we create an ecommerce website, showcasing multiple product offerings in the most simplified way, or whether you need a high converting site which can be used as an aggressive digital marketing tool to drive visitors to sales, we understand that every user interaction should be meaningful and as easy as possible.

Let us partner with you to offer professional website design packages, holistic marketing strategies and up-to-date trends and analysis. Do not hesitate to contact us, we would love to hear from you.

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