I was recently asked to join a panel on ‘Social Networking: What’s Working Now?’ at the upcoming 2014 Nationwide Marketing Group Primetime Convention in Las Vegas. The initiation provided a perfect opportunity to reflect back on how my 2013 Social Media Business Plan worked and what I would do differently in 2014. And I will be brutally honest, trust me!

All the same players are still helping me keeping up with the madness. Kevin, my right-hand man, is doing a terrific job in picking up the slack and then some. Glenn Gabe, still blows me away with our analytics and continues to offer cutting-edge search tools. Hilary Morris is still grounding me, making sure I stay relevant and real!

1. Website: The Mrs. G website is the heart of my social networking campaign. No matter what social networking site a potential customer is on, they need a way to link to the site. However, it doesn’t stop there. My website is designed so that a potential customer, who has never been to Mrs. G’s showroom, is driven (no pun intended) to visit the store. Studies have shown that approximately 80% of appliances and mattresses purchases are made from customers who live within 30 miles of the store. My marketing is focused on the 80%. No matter how close they are to the store, they still spend a lot of time online searching for information and pricing. For this reason, Mrs. G’s needs a robust and current e-commerce site to keep a user engaged. For all you e-commerce experts out there, my website is out-of-date (I know). Our host, RWS Webfronts, has been nudging me to upgrade to their Elite program with more e-commerce features and the magic word” mobile friendly”. It was only recently that my team was comfortable that an upgrade to Elite would not diminish our SEO power. So by the 2nd quarter of 2014, you will see a new Mrs. G’s website boasting upgraded features with a focus on driving customers to our showroom, providing an e-commerce powerhouse and having a mobile-friendly site.

2. Blog: Content is King! In 2013, my blog posts from Debbie’s Blog drove the most referral traffic to Mrs. G’s website with over 24,000 visitors. It’s amazing how things change from generation to generation. My grandmother, Mrs. G, would always say, “Cash is King!” I never hear that anymore. The #1 blog for 2013 was “How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances-The Best Stainless Steel Cleaners” with 34,000 page views. A close second was “The Best Microwave Drawers” with 33,500 views. In 2013, we added a blog for our executive Chef Mary Beth called Appliance Chef to post recipes and events. My 2014 plan is to write 2 blogs a month with outstanding content. Can this one count for January?

3. Facebook: Oh how I wish I could hit 2000! I probably will with my next contest. What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time I was at 600 fans…and very skeptical about contests. This year I am at 1750 fans and very excited to start another contest. I offered our first contest in November when we started at 800 fans, and just look how high we jumped. Come on, that’s not so bad! It’s an appliance store, not shoes or handbags. I learned a big lesson this year: Make Facebook engaging with contests, and use it as a way to advertise locally. Facebook allows you to target your customers via demographics, gender, and location at an affordable price compared to traditional methods like radio and newspaper. I was surprised with the results of the advertising/contest campaign and very happy to share with the cooperative manufacturer. With the analytics tools available, it is clear that I will continue contests in 2014. I will still use traditional methods of advertising, but Facebook will get it’s share of marketing dollars from Mrs. G’s.

A quick mention on negative posts: It happens to the best of us. I do not delete the post. I address it head on. I reply back that I would like to talk to them personally about their issues. Most of the negative posts get deleted by the postee because they were so surprised that I actually care and so happy to hear that I want to help them.

4. Email Marketing: We still use the Rocketseed template. The best part of my email marketing campaign is when people email me back saying, “Great Email Blast!” Click here to view our December newsletter (and feel free to subscribe at the bottom). We have over 5,700 customers who still haven’t opted-out. Not bad right? The newsletter features sale information, recent blog posts from Appliance Chef, popular pins from Pinterest, and featured products. We also added an Upcoming Events section, which was a suggestion from a customer. I always welcome ideas and constructive criticism; I want to give readers and customers what they want!

5. Pinterest: I love Pinterest and am thankful that all 640 of my followers like my content! I just had a customer who is placing a large range in between two windows. When it came to discussing the hood she said, “I have no idea.” Because of the time I have spent curating ideas, trends and tips, I was able to quickly show her some options from a Kitchen Range Hoods board on my iPad. She was very impressed. Imitation is the best form of flattery.

6. Google+: Right now I copy everything from the Mrs. G’s Facebook page to the Mrs. G’s Google+ page. I know this is good for search. Now, if you search for Mrs. G’s on Google, my recent posts to G+ will show up on the right-hand side so you can stay informed without having to visit Facebook or G+.

7. Twitter: I do have a lot of followers because I started almost 3 years ago. As of right now, I do not see the need to advertise here. Every social network presents different engagement opportunities and don’t always yield the same results. While I love Facebook for advertising to potential and current customers, I use Twitter more to follow industry leaders, competitors, manufacturers and local peeps. Sometimes an easy solution to using Twitter is to have your Facebook posts automatically post to Twitter. I stopped doing that since it was annoying and impersonal. Twitter helps brand Mrs. G’s and myself to industry peers all over the country. Again, it must have good content.

8. Youtube: I failed for 2013. A total let down. Video marketing is going to be big for small business in 2014. More people are turning to video for the type of content I can provide: How To’s and cooking tips. I must push myself to be in front of the camera more. Stay tuned…..

9. Houzz: Still a great tool for those who are looking for ideas. I can’t say I got a new customer from our presence on Houzz, however during 2013 Houzz referred 2000 visits to our website. That’s amazing!

10. Yelp: I’m a big fan of Yelp and I make sure the content on Mrs. G’s page is current and as detailed as possible. It is a great tool for local search, especially for customers who have moved into the area and do not have the opportunity to get referrals from neighbors or friends. Just like Google and Facebook, I respond immediately to all the reviews–both positive or negative. I must admit, when I get the notice that a review has been posted ( Yelp does not tell you it was positive or negative), I get a little nervous. But who wouldn’t! I need to work on that for 2014. I upgraded to a paid level in 2013 to increase user views and engagement. It looks like it is working. My Yelp rep said that I had the best content on my page that he has ever seen. Thank you Yelp!

11. SEO/SEM: I leave that to the expert…Glenn Gabe. If I tell you how many new visitors come to my site per month via search you probably would not believe me.

Well, I must be doing something right. Every time I go to my local Chamber events, there are usually a few people who always say: “You are everywhere! Who does your marketing? They are terrific!”

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