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Facebook, Instagram launch features to showcase local businesses

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) New features on Facebook and Instagram allow a small business to be promoted within 1 – 500 miles if users visit their Business Nearby section.

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small business on Facebook

There is no doubt that Small business owners (estimated at 30.2 million in the United States) have been hit hard by COVID-19. They’ve had to close their doors abruptly, shift to online and contactless offerings, and some had to furlough their employees.

We don’t exactly know yet how many will not be able to re-open their doors but for those that have made quick shifts to their businesses, here are some great ways that we can support them (some for little effort and no cost to us via Facebook and Instagram, of course assuming they are on these two platforms).

No matter your feelings on Facebook or Instagram, it’s nice to see them make strides as a large tech company to push out these products and resources considering what a large amount of small businesses there are, and how everyone is hurting. This may not be the overall solution, but it can be a great step in the right direction.

TechCrunch outlines the way Facebook and Instagram launched new products so that consumers can show support for their local and small business.

What consumers can do:

  1. When logged in to your Facebook, check out their new Businesses Nearby section (it will let you set it between 1-500 miles from you). Peruse the businesses for updates, and see if there is one that you would be comfortable supporting.
  2. You can add the Support Small Business sticker on Instagram, or use the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag on Facebook
  3. If you are a Creator on Facebook, you will also be able to easily tag small businesses

By doing these simple things, it will create additional exposure for them, and even be included in Instagram stories that will be shared via localized content. It may not feel significant, but with that many, this might be an easy thing to do at low cost and minimal effort for many of us.

What Small Business Owners can utilize?

  1. Facebook has created a specific Business section in Messenger in hopes to make it easier for them to respond to customers.
  2. Facebook has pulled together resources specifically for COVID-19, and owners can access this through their Facebook shortcuts or within their Instagram Business profile.
  3. They set up a $100 million grant program for small businesses.
  4. They added the ability to add temporary service changes.

As many businesses (begrudgingly or not) utilize social media to promote their products and services, hopefully these developments will help them continue to reach consumers and stay in business. It’s impossible to look at just these two social media channels individually without looking at their entire marketing and operations plans, but hopefully these create positive impacts since they have quite a large presence in how we connect, socialize, and share our experiences.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Real Estate Marketing

If you own a website, Google is requiring that you make changes

Google has yet again moved the goal posts for website owners – are you staying up to date with these major new requirements?

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Google recently announced a plan for Chrome to begin phasing out their third-party cookies in favor of “trust tokens,” a process that was initially set to be completed by the end of 2021. Now, they’re walking that deadline back by quite a bit, citing “late 2023” as the new goal.

The new deadline is somewhat misleading, however, as Bloomberg reports that the paradigm shift away from cookies will take place in two stages: one push starting in late 2022 and lasting around nine months, and a final three-month push at the end of 2023.

The initial stage will reportedly comprise web developers, publishers, and advertisers, with the second stage serving as a final mop-up for any sites that haven’t finished pushing out cookies. One can reasonably assume that, along with implementing Chrome’s trust tokens, web creators and sellers will need to devise proprietary means for tracking data that takes into account user consent.

Third-party cookies are responsible for a massive accumulation of customer data in recent years, so many web-based vendors are concerned about the implications of no longer being able to track clicks and impressions as effectively. The extra time on the deadline is sure to give such vendors a bit more latitude in terms of coming up with alternatives to supplement Google Chrome’s rumored trust tokens.

It should be noted that Google is not the first company to mandate nixing of cookies.

Apple’s Safari browser no longer allows third-party cookies, and Firefox started blocking them by default in 2019. The host of privacy laws and restrictions may seem like an obstacle–especially when these restrictions result in the death of one of the most effective data-tracking tools to date–but they serve the best interest of the public, and certainly not to a substantial detriment.

As with any deadline, the best thing to do here is get the ball rolling ASAP – the extension may help, but phasing out cookies is sure to be a time-intensive and finicky process for a business of any size. Starting immediately ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to deal with any nuances that arise between now and the deadline – including getting your employees up to speed on the new changes.

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Real Estate Marketing

Turning plastic waste into lumber could put a real dent in our waste crisis

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Goodwood plastic is a company that has some great uses for old plastic waste. As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

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If ever there was a niche to fill in this world, it’s finding more uses for plastic waste. With public concerns for global warming on the rise, more people and local governments are starting to search for ways to be more eco-friendly and reduce their plastic waste.

Plastic use has become a pain-point for modern consumers. People are searching for companies who use less, or no, plastic in their packaging. Having a clear plan for reducing your company’s carbon footprint is not only good for the Earth, it’s good for business.

While many companies are working to reduce their use of plastic packaging, one Canadian company is taking charge of the single-use plastics already floating around the world.

Goodwood Plastic Products is turning plastic waste into lumber. Yes, you read that right. Lumber.

The leaders over at Goodwood Plastic aren’t wizards, but they are brilliant. The company takes single-use plastics and recycles them into sturdy, innovative building materials. These building blocks can be drilled, nailed, and glued just like lumber. The building blocks even have superior durability to traditional lumber and do not suffer from the same kind of deterioration.

Goodwood is currently working with the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia to recycle about 80% of the plastic recyclables collected in the city. City officials are thrilled to have a local company helping them find a use for such a large quantity of their waste. The Halifax Solid Waste Division Manager, Andrew Philopoulos says the city would have a hard time dealing with the plastic waste without Goodwoods services.

“Without them, I think we would find it challenging to find a market for a lot of the plastic packaging that we are collecting.”

Goodwood has made headlines before. Recently, they partnered with Canadian grocery store, Sobeys, to make a parking lot completely out of post-consumer plastics taken from landfills. And it doesn’t appear that they are slowing down anytime soon. Their latest venture will focus on recycling fishing gear, which makes up a significant amount of plastic waste in oceans and causes immense harm to sea life.

The vice president of Goodwood, Mike Chassie, hopes that their business model will inspire others to fight the good fight against post-consumer plastic.

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Real Estate Marketing

This new “no-fuss” customer support tool focuses on privacy

(MARKETING) Letterbase’s website widget lets customers send a quick email to businesses without worrying about who’s looking at or selling their info.

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Letterbase is a contact form widget to help customer support

Giving your website users a timely, low-friction way to talk to your business is essential, yes? Live chat can be cool for customer support, but do you really need it? If it feels like overkill, check out Letterbase’s email-based tool.

The website widget for facilitating customer feedback was designed to be “simple, fast, and privacy-friendly.”

Through a branding-friendly, customizable box that can appear on each page, customers can quickly send an email initiating a conversation. They don’t have to wait around for a chat reply before clicking off the site; they get a response in their inbox. Businesses don’t have to use a separate tool to respond and log conversations; the person monitoring email does that. Hence, the “simple.”

The “fast” comes with what they promise is lightweight script installed with a quick copy and paste.

It’s that “privacy-friendly” part that maker Richard Chu says prompted the idea for the product. After combing through messaging apps’ privacy policies, Chu says, he found the “spying” and data sharing to be intrusive.

You might not be aware of how much data collecting some website messaging and chat apps do – and that they sell that data to third parties. Capturing users’ IP addresses, monitoring their browser history, setting cookies, collecting personal information such as drivers license numbers, even tracking users’ location, can all come with a site’s chat or messaging platform – unbeknownst to users.

Having a chat or messenger widget prominently on a website shows that a company cares about customer support and service, but there are things to consider with Letterbase and similar apps.

Some good points:

  • Privacy friendly: Letterbase’s privacy guarantee should allow website owners to assure users that their data is not being collected or sold – a potentially huge trust-builder with customers.
  • Data ownership: Website owners own the data and Letterbase doesn’t store any user conversations.
  • Easy to use: Letterbase should be an affordable customer support tool for small businesses and groups who don’t have dedicated IT people or a high knowledge of tech.
  • Simplicity over analytics: There are no frustrating chat bots that don’t really understand customer questions, and no paying for complicated analytics bells and whistles like sentiment analysis, which requires a team of people just to understand.
  • Trust: Sending an email directly feels better than contact forms, which are often perceived as a communication “black hole.” Users need to trust that they will get a quick reply.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Data collection: If users are being tracked, website owners can assume at least some of their own data is being tracked, too. Read any tool’s privacy policy and contract carefully.
  • Privacy policies: Do you need to alert users that you have an app that is collecting, sharing and/or selling their data? It’s not clear, but being transparent about privacy assures users that their data is safe is a huge potential trust builder. If a company is selling their data, it could quickly become obvious when a user starts to see targeted ads based on your conversation – a potentially huge trust-buster.
  • Security: If conversations might contain any sensitive information, like phone or credit card numbers, make sure your email client offers end-to-end encryption. This also can protect your company network from malware.
  • Response time: You need a crack email monitoring person who will be conscientious about timely responses and categorizing, analyzing and storing conversations. Consider auto-generated responses if that person can’t monitor all the time.

Currently, Letterbase has a 14-day free trial, then an early adopter price of $9 per month.

According to their public roadmap, they plan to eventually integrate with Slack.

It’s clear Letterbase could work for small businesses or groups that care about privacy and want a simple, no frills way for customers to ask questions or request support. Privacy is a the top of mind now, so lack of tracking could be a real benefit.

Sure, understanding and targeting customers through tracking what they do online is pretty much the foundation of digital marketing. For many businesses, though, simple email conversations could be all they need. Plus, it shows they care about privacy by not adding another layer of data surveillance in messaging, which could be the nudge that pushes a prospect to the next step in the customer journey.

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