It’s expected that large corporations maintain an online presence, on a company website and possibly on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, small business owners might question whether or not it’s worth the effort and cost to get online. These days you need to reject that notion. Prospective customers and clients, as well as your current ones, are likely checking online for information about your company. So, you’ll need to make sure there’s something there for them to find. Whatever path you choose, make sure it is done well and kept current. Here are some things to consider when you establish an online presence.
Making the Most of Your Website
Even the smallest of businesses needs a website. It adds a level of legitimacy to your company. Today, it’s very likely that potential customers or clients will scope out your business online, even before they reach out to you by phone or email. So, it makes sense to make the most of your website. Here are some tips to do just that.
Follow a Model
If your business includes online selling, your website not only has to be professional and inviting, but also must have a dependable product ordering function. Or, you might simply have a web presence and not a storefront.
Whatever the situation, model your website after some of the better ones you’ve seen online. Check out the competitors, large and small,to see what ideas you can draw from them.
Go Back to School
Depending on how small your business is, the webmaster duties might fall on your shoulders or on the shoulders of someone in your office. Ask around and find out what courses your local trade group, professional organization, chamber of commerce or Small Business Administration office has available.
More of their offerings are likely devoted to website creation and concepts like search engine optimization. Invest in a quick course in effective marketing online. A little knowledge can go a long way.
Share Your Expertise
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all effective for getting your company name out there, if you use them well. You may not feel as though it’s worth the big expense to pay for ads on LinkedIn, especially if your business is hyper-local. But you can still create a company page as well as one for yourself.
You can now share posts on LinkedIn. Write short and punchy articles that address a current business trend that might be impacting the people you want to reach. You can use a blog to provide your current clients and customers with useful advice. Or you can send out tweets linking to and commenting on important news items. This will establish your company as a valued and trusted resource.
Don’t be surprised if your customers and clients share important links you pass their way. And, if you can finagle it, consider contributing to a website that provides news or articles to a larger audience. It always helps to get your name and the name of your company out there. Many news websites are looking for experts to contribute free content.
Provide the Best Advice
Before you start tweeting or blogging, check out some examples of businesses and business owners who know what to do online. Stay current on your industry and keep your information timely and brief. Watch vague statements and give people useful information, like creative and handy tips to streamline their operations.
Business challenges, such as regulatory issues and trends in the industry, always provide good fodder for discussion. If you get comments on Facebook, Twitter, or through a LinkedIn post, make sure to address them. Regularly monitor email to see if you get comments about your website.
Use your personal business story to write helpful blog posts on your website. How did your company address a particularly difficult patch in the business, whether it was at start-up or during an economic downturn? It’s very likely your clients and customers will want to know your story. They’ll want to know your business is going to be around for the long haul, or they might be able to apply the information to their own businesses. Establish an e-newsletter that refers your customers and clients to your blog.
Watch the Expense
The nature of your business will probably help dictate the investment into your online presence, whether it be on social media or the web. The beauty of tweeting and using your website to add a page for blogging is that there’s no real or additional expense involved. Of course, time is money.
Even if you’re not shelling out cash to tweet or update a business blog, the time invested equates to time away from getting new clients or customers. So, test the waters and figure out how much time you’ll need to devote to it. And don’t forget to use hashtags effectively to make sure your tweets don’t go to waste. If you have employees who are willing to help you establish an online presence, take them up on the offer. However, be a close monitor, and make sure to put your stamp of approval on it. Provide short articles and ideas on a consistent basis.