Not every business has the means or even the desire to hire an outside firm to handle its online presence. Going it alone isn't all that easy either. Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Google and other platforms have algorithms and policies that are an ever-moving target. Even those who are tech savvy may struggle with the firehose of social media.
Microsoft Listings is the latest service to step up and try to help you with the madness. It's part of the company's Microsoft 365 Business initiative, which bundles Office and several services focused on small and midsize businesses. In case you've signed up for the service or are weighing the perks, here's a rundown of how Listings can serve as your internet and social media toolkit. [Read related article: Which Microsoft 365 Platform Is Right for Your Business?]
No matter what type of business you have, an online presence is critical. Even traditional brick-and-mortar stores that rely on word-of-mouth and a charming display to attract new customers require some online component.
If you're starting from square one, you can use Microsoft Listings to publish information about your business to Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp. You also get some basic performance monitoring and analytics through the service. The interface is consistent with other Microsoft products, and it walks you through how to share essential information about your business.Businesses that opt for Microsoft 365 can use Listings to check their customer engagement across social platforms. Credit: Microsoft
The real key is in the depth. Google has rapidly advanced the features of Google My Business, providing features to monitor reviews, publish promotions and accept customer messages. Facebook, meanwhile, regularly adds features and creates new APIs for developers to tap into. Over the long term, attention to detail and engagement with the full feature set of social networks is essential.
Listings walks you through the process of setting up a presence with the major services. Just uploading details like your name, address, phone number, website, hours and logo can be a great start. But it will still be worth your time to occasionally check in on the sites themselves in case there are first-party features that offer more detail. Yelp in particular is more beneficial with a steady flow of reviews, images and updates. Get to know each service and how to tell your story there best.
Microsoft Listings is a part of the company's play to offer a comprehensive solution to businesses. Companies need a lot more than just Office to stay productive and connect with a mobile workforce. Invoicing, social media, customer management and email marketing are just as critical as creating good slide decks.
Microsoft Listings requires a subscription to the Microsoft 365 Business service. It provides a good baseline of establishing a presence and monitoring your traffic details. To remain useful, Microsoft will need to be diligent about the ongoing changes to such services and nudge businesses to take advantage of all it offers.