Your Business’s Online Presence (and How to Improve It)
How do people find and connect with your business online? From Facebook to Google, from contact forms on your website to third-party apps, this network of online websites and tools is how you connect with customers and clients. The ability to manage these systems – collectively known as your online presence – and coordinate the branding and information found on them is essential to your business’s success. Today we’re looking at how managing your business’s online presence works and what you need to do to make it work for you.
Understanding What Online Presence Is
In short, your online presence is the awareness of potential customers and clients on the existence of your company and how to access it. Generally, it is considered the part of inbound marketing – the ability for those online to find you, as opposed to seeking out customers as part of outbound marketing (read more about how inbound and outbound marketing contrast and complement each other in our blog, Comparing Outbound and Inbound Marketing). Perfecting your online presence is all about knowing where people can find you and controlling (and making consistent) the message and branding there while providing clear lines of sights to your sales pipeline.
Your Website is Your SEO Castle
For fledgling business or those very set in their ways, creating a website can be a hurdle both in terms of cost and time. It can be tempting to think you can just run your business out of a Facebook page or other third-party website. This is a mistake. Of all the tools for building your online presence, your website is the strongest one for one exact reason: you control it. This is more than just not being at the whim of a third party who can change what you can and can’t do: it’s about being able to change everything from metadata to features on your website that allow you to have better visibility to search engines and tailor the experience to your users.
Proactive Control of Your Online Reputation
Just like offline, you don’t always get to control what is said about you online. However, automatically or by the actions of their users, review and listing websites can create pages that represent your business and post information about it, from what you do to what times you’re open. Reputation management is the ongoing process of claiming and managing these pages, from making sure the information and branding are consistent, to reviewing and responding to reviews and ratings.
Places to Claim and Manage
While below is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good place to start. Depending on your industry, some of these platforms may be more or less relevant:
Being More Than Just Present on Social Media
Getting business exposure is only half of any successful marketing and sales: the other half is interaction. Community is a big part of any business. Social media is more than just a place for announcement and backlinks; it’s a place for people to get excited and share your services, products, and ideas, as well as a place they can communicate with your business via comments, posts, and private messages.
What Social Media Platform Should I Focus On?
In an ideal world, you should have a foothold on all the major social media platforms as each strengthens your online presence and will connect you with some of your customers and clients. However, depending on the time and effort you have available (and your industry), you may have to pick your battles. A quick rundown on platforms to think about:
- Facebook: With over 2.38 billion monthly active users as of writing this blog, Facebook is a good start for any business looking for an online presence.
- Twitter: Twitter holds an interesting place currently with a focus on opinions and timely events. If either of those is important to you (along with networking), start tweeting.
- Instagram: “The Gram’s” popularity has exploded in recent years for its image and mobile-centric social media. A great tool for connecting with younger audiences and for photogenic businesses.
- LinkedIn: The strength of LinkedIn is two-fold. Not only is it a strong B2B platform, but LinkedIn is also an essential HR tool for finding employees and starting rewarding internship programs.
It’s important to be on the lookout for other platforms that might not traditionally be considered social media. Both YouTube and Pinterest can be great ways of connecting and sharing content with your customers, as long as you’ve got the right content to share.
Building your company’s online presence – especially from scratch – is a daunting process. Integrating your online and offline presence into a larger brand management plan requires a lot of work. When it comes to creating and coordinating your online presence, you don’t have to go it alone. From consultation to management, Vision Advertising can help you create the right foundation to digitally marketing from. Contact us to learn more.