If you’ve just started your business or are fairly new to the entrepreneurial world, then building your online presence can be time consuming and, at times, frustrating. But it’s also very important. Your online presence is very important because it’s what allows people to find you, interact with you, and get to know, like, and trust you. But building your online presence can be less time consuming and less frustrating if you know where to start. Don’t worry, calm down, and take a deep breath, today, in this article, we will discuss all issues related to online presence and methods to apply effectively.
What is an “online presence”?
An online presence is the sum of all the identities you’ve created (can be both personal and business-driven) and the interactions those identities have established, and participated in, online. Technically speaking, if you have a website you have an online presence. If you are a member of an association that has a member directory listing online or if you have a Facebook account, you have an online presence.
Your online presence has a very broad reach, and when built successfully it can spread brand awareness and gain you fans, followers, leads, customers, and anything else you could ever want for your business.
Why Does Your Small Business Need an Online Presence?
In the digital age, it is absolutely essential for your business to have an online presence. Whether it’s a website, an e-commerce platform, a social media page or a combination of all three, getting your company online will reap major benefits. Even if your company does not conduct business online, customers and potential customers are expecting to see you online. If they don’t see you there, you could be losing out on the opportunity to increase your customer base and get the word out about your business.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why your small business needs to establish its online presence:
1. Make it Easier for Potential Customers Come to You
Today, if someone wants more information about a company, they’re most likely to do their research online. Whether they’re specifically looking for your company, or they just want to find any company that offers the products or services that your company offers, having an online presence will give you a competitive edge. Potential customers will not put a lot of effort into finding you, and they should not have to. A simple Google search should provide them with all the information they seek.
Real life example: Your business distributes seafoods, meats, fine wines and other spirits. A potential customer is having an impromptu family get-together and needs a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and some shrimp. She uses her smartphone to search for “wine and seafood in Denver”. Your company’s website is listed in the search results. After browsing your website, she’s satisfied that you can provide her with what she needs. You’ve just earned another customer!
2. Make it Easier to Showcase Your Products and Services
The Internet gives businesses an effective platform for showcasing what they have to offer. Whether it’s a portfolio and testimonials from clients on a website, or an album on a Facebook page with photos of your newest products, it has never been easier to let the world know what you have to offer. With a few simple clicks, your customers can see what you’re all about. They can even do this outside of business hours! An online presence is an extension of your brand that never sleeps.
3. Make it Easier to Build Relationships with Customers and Potential Customers
Social media is all about building relationships. This is true for both individuals and businesses. Social media gives your brand a voice – it makes your company more “human” and relatable. Customers and potential customers can interact with your brand on a more personal level. It also gives you the opportunity to truly get to know your customers. If everyone is on social media except you, you are missing out on an invaluable opportunity to connect and communicate with your target audience. Social media is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to get persons interested in your company and to form real relationships with real people.
4. Make it Easier to Market Your Brand
- Websites and social media platforms are excellent marketing tools. They are also some of the most cost-effective methods of sending out information to thousands of people. Online marketing is extremely important for all businesses because it has a huge influence on the way consumers make purchasing decisions. Moderns consumers have even indicated that they look at companies in a negative light if they cannot find them online. Using the internet for marketing purposes allows you to overcome distance barriers. Persons thousands of miles away can be learning all about your business with just a few keystrokes.
- The “shareability” of social media allows your customers to easily spread the word about your business to all their friends. Ultimately, online marketing gives you the opportunity to market your brand in creative and exciting ways.
There’s a lot that goes into building your online presence, from establishing your business goals, to actually creating your different profiles and accounts on social media, to building a website (your home base), all the way to figuring out the best ways to engage and interact across these different mediums. To help with the overwhelm, let’s break down 10 ways that you can start building your online presence right now.
10 Ways Small Businesses Can Improve Their Social Media Presence
Small businesses around the world know that social media is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you’ve yet had the chance to put in the time or effort necessary to cultivate a proper presence on the right networks.
But even if you haven’t optimized your social media presence, there is still time, and the benefits will be well worth the effort. There are many advantages to cultivating your brand on social media, including that it can help you improve your customer service, allow you to communicate with customers and prospects on a new level, help you engage your audience and reach new audiences, help you build authority, and drive traffic to your website.
In short, a solid social media strategy can drive growth for your business by fostering lasting and loyal relationships with customers and prospects.
1. Choose the Right Networks
Facebook: the largest platform, has 2 billion-plus active monthly users, and the site is ideal for businesses that want to generate leads and build relationships.
LinkedIn: the platform for business networking can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses to create trust, build authority, and engage audiences.
Twitter: whose platform is immediacy, is perfect for businesses whose major audience is under 50 and who need to stay apprised of time-sensitive information like breaking news, announcements, and trending topics.
Pinterest: the photo sharing site, is a fantastic platform for businesses with visual appeal (think restaurants, fashion, art, travel, and weddings), and it’s great for driving sales because so many users look to the site to plan purchases.
Snapchat: the expiring content platform, is one of the fastest growing social networking sites, and businesses can leverage it by offering promotions, providing personalized content, giving exclusive access, and building relationships with influencers in order to drive brand recognition and loyalty.
2. Set a Goal
Being active on social media has a number of benefits for business, and there are many things you can accomplish with your social presence, such as performing customer service, engaging customers, generating leads, expanding your audience, driving sales, increasing web traffic, gaining valuable insights and feedback, and much more.
But in order to achieve these with any measure of success, you must have a goal in mind that you can work toward because you’ll need to create a strategy to get there. Your techniques for driving sales, for instance, will be different than your approach if you wanted to improve your customer service offering, so it’s important to know what you want to accomplish.
3. Come up with a Strategy
Having a goal for improving your social media presence is great, but it’s only the beginning. Once you know what you want to achieve, you have to come up with a plan to help you get there.
Start by designating the person or people who will be part of the social media team, and break up their roles and responsibilities clearly so everybody knows what’s expected and when.
You should also decide on your posting frequency, and create a content calendar that will help you plan posts and make sure you don’t miss days. The content calendar is a big part of your strategy because it should lay out:
- Who your audience is
- What topics and subjects your audience is interested in
- The usable content you already have
- What kind of content you still need to create or curate
- When and on what platforms content will be published
4. Make a Content Creation or Curation Plan with Your Audience in Mind
Knowing your audience is critical when it comes to finding success with social media engagement because the interests and needs of your audience will determine the type of content you should be sharing and the way you engage your followers.
For instance, if you were a coffee roastery, your target audience might be interested in recipes for fancy coffee drinks, brewing tips and techniques, and other Java-related articles. Some of the important things you should know about your audience include age, location, gender, goals, likes, needs, behaviors, challenges, and pain points.
No matter who your audience is, however, the content you share should always be high quality and relevant, and you should prioritize video, images, and other types of visual content as often as possible because these are popular among all demographics and all audiences.
5. Select Tools to Schedule and Automate Posts
Staying active and present on social media takes time and dedication, but there are plenty of automation tools available you can use to automatically publish posts and schedule posts up to a month in advance.
These tools, which include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, MeetEdgar, and BuzzSumo, can save you time by allowing you to plan and schedule batches of posts at once, but they also make it easier to monitor your networks and respond to messages quickly.
6. Actively Engage Your Audience in Relevant Ways
Although content is supremely important on social media, it’s not enough to just post your content and walk away. Social media is also about connection and engagement, and that’s the only way you can foster the relationships you want to build and gain the trust of your audience.
There are many ways you can engage with your audiences, and they include:
- Commenting on posts
- Starting and participating in conversations
- Sharing relevant information
- Sharing user-generated content
- Posing and answering questions
- Addressing complaints and criticisms
- Showing appreciation for customers
7. Minimize the Time You Spend Promoting
Even though the practice of social selling is becoming increasingly popular among salespeople and marketers, the actual process of using social networks to drive growth is much different from what most people are used to. Rather than using social as an active promotional platform, it’s best to use it as a tool for engagement and communication.
In fact, it’s recommended that businesses keep their promotional content to 20%, while the lion’s share of content should be dedicated to meeting the needs of your audience.
8. Maintain a Constant Presence
Social media isn’t a one and done deal, and it takes time and patience to cultivate a reliable presence. With the right automation tools, you can minimize the time you’ll have to dedicate to social media, but even still it will require at least 15 minutes a day to monitor your channels and respond to questions and conversations. In terms of posting frequency, the right number really depends on the platform you’re using.
For LinkedIn and Facebook, don’t post more than once a day, and limit posts to five times a week. Twitter, on the other hand, changes so quickly that the more you post, the better. With Pinterest, 11 pins a day seems to be the magic number.
9. Present Audiences with a Consistent Voice
Social media is ideal for brand building and recognition, so it’s crucial that every post you make is in line with your brand and image. This can become problematic if you have multiple people assigned to the task of social, because everybody will bring their own personality to their posts.
For this reason, it’s best to limit the number of people responsible for posting, and make sure everybody is on the same page in terms of the voice and image you want to present.
10. Watch the Right Metrics to Monitor Your Progress
Social media use is growing all the time, and every month there are more active users than the one before, especially on the top sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. It’s not necessary to have a presence on every social network out there, and it’s a much better strategy to define your goals, locate your audience, and pick the sites that are right for you based on those factors.
Social media relationship building has a number of benefits to confer on your business, but it’s important to put in the time cultivating your presence if you want to take advantage of them all.
8 Tools for Managing Your Online Presence
In order to be a digital marketing success, you must understand how to build your online presence. Why does that matter?
Without a good presence, it’s difficult to prepare your prospects for a sales pitch. After putting hours of hard work into building an online business, you want to make a great impression, and convert your leads into customers. But there’s no need to go it alone: this list of tools will help increase your online presence, and boost success in your marketing efforts. Let’s get started!
Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard for social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, infrastructure, and a whole lot more. You can use this app to monitor all of your business data in one convenient location. Features include the ability to monitor individual departments and multiple websites, pre-built widgets, custom data sources, real-time reporting, historical data, data exports and interface customization. Users can set up dashboards from scratch using pre-built and custom widgets. To gain a better sense of how it works, check out this example of a Cyfe-powered web analytics dashboard. This tool will help you not to waste time and energy tracking data, so you can worry about the more important aspects of your business.
If you want to know what people are saying about your brand, this tool is just what you need. Brand24 will immediately notify you of any online mentions so you can reach out to sales prospects, brand champions and disgruntled customers right away. Learn what people are really saying about your brand and use this information to improve on anything that isn’t working well, so you can improve your bottom line. Brand24 is also a great way to find publicity opportunities, and learn what your competitors are up to.
Wisestamp generates professional email signatures that can help to grow your business. More than 650,000 professionals are using Wisestamp, and there are hundreds of signature templates to choose from. Whatever your field of work, there are enough templates, apps, and designs to find what you need to stand out and represent your business well. This tool can increase your reach across social networks, boost generated leads through the “Schedule A Meeting” app, and draw in more email replies simply by adding a photo: and this is all for free.
Webinars are a great way to generate interest for your business, and this tool enables you to create them quickly and easily. Using ClickMeeting, you can customize your webinars, analyze and follow up with attendees, and track the success of every event. These webinars can dramatically increase traffic to your site and boost sales. In conjunction with ClickMeeting, you can use your social media accounts as channels to keep traffic coming to your website, generate leads, and get your business more sales. While you have to pay for indefinite access, there’s also a considerable free trial period without any contracts. You have nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain, so get started today and get those webinars out there to the world!
Brandwatch is another tool that will give you insight into what your customers are saying about your brand, and what they want from your business. This information is invaluable for building a direct marketing strategy that will speak to your audience and raise conversions. Brandwatch gives you instant access to customer conversations as they occur, so you are always up-to-date on the latest trends. You will also be able to identify threats as they arise, learn how to deal with them, and react smartly to anything that might impact your business. While the service is not cheap (starting at $500), it easily pays for itself depending on the size of your business, and if you aren’t sure, a free demo can help to assess whether it’s right for you.
This tool allows you to segment your audience so you can target visitors by how they got to your site. Using Kissmetrics, you can set triggers to engage with customers based on their actions, and choose the behavior that visitors should display before you bother showing them your campaign. This process helps to identify and target viable prospects while weeding out those who just aren’t interested. Kissmetrics is easy to use, and provides five design templates to jumpstart your optimization. You can visit the site to request a demo and see for yourself how automated segmentation can help your business.
If you want to convert website visitors into email subscribers, you need to start using this tool: OptinMonster allows you to create and A/B test awesome lead capture forms without having to bother with a developer, and the lead generation software will bring big results quickly. Features include the OptinMonster Builder, multiple form types, exit Intent technology, A/B split testing, page level targeting, and built-in analytics just to name a few. This tool works with all major email marketing services, as well as CMS and eCommerce platforms. Everything you need to grow an email list can be found right here, and it will only take you a few minutes to build high converting forms instead of several hours.
Use Mention to monitor your online presence from any location. You will enjoy real-time monitoring of brand mentions from social media and around the web. Track all of the important outlets including social media, blogs, forums, and more, so you can really focus on your brand and learn about your competitors. This tool will help you to attract new customers, build awareness, and improve your overall online reputation while allowing you to engage your audience and react to mentions right away. This tool will help you to handle a crisis when it arises, create reports, study your competition, and a whole lot more.
In this digital age, a strong online presence in the form of a social media page, a website, a blog and an e-commerce platform – preferably all four – is one of the best things you can do for your business, and for your customers. For your company to remain competitive, consumers need to be able to easily find your website and all your product and service information with just one click.
A strong online presence can potentially skyrocket your business. The sooner you begin using this immensely powerful marketing tool, the more leads you can generate and nurture. So, take the leap, invest the time, and reap the many business rewards being online can provide!
For more information on how ENVZONE can help your business build its online presence, please contact us. We’d love to chat!
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