Written for ScoopOTP.com October 2013, revised June 2015 for FlyMediaProductions.com.
If you’re an independent professional or small business owner and are ready to make your presence known on the web, but are overwhelmed with options and unsure of where to start, it’s okay, because today we’ll be discussing how to take the three ingredients mentioned in my previous post (The internet, social media, and your milkshake, AKA your unique product or service) and we’re going to learn how use them to develop a successful online presence.
It’s important to note that when it comes to online promotion, there will always be more options than you could ever - or should ever, make use of. And while developing an online presence can at times be overwhelming – it’s also important!
Your online presence is who you are online – this includes the social and professional identities you’ve created over time, as well as the interactions you’ve had or participated in while online.
Your online presence is also what allows you to set yourself apart from an overwhelming sea of competitors, allows people to find you (and your milkshake!), and not only allows for them to interact with and get to know you directly, but also allows them to follow and keep up with you as well.
A successful online presence can, as so eloquently stated by Kate Erickson of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, “spread brand awareness, gain you fans, followers, leads, customers, and anything else you could ever want for your business from an online relationship.”
So, how can you begin to develop an online presence for your brand?
1. Plan Your Strategy: Have a plan in place and constantly re-asses to make sure that you aren’t making use of any particular channels or social networks simply because “everyone else is” or because you’ve been told that in order to be successful you need to make use of such-and-such a platform.
TIP 4 SUCCESS: Everything you do online should serve a purpose in accomplishing YOUR business goals.
2. Develop a Hub: For most individuals and companies this will be in the form a website. Your hub should be a centralized place where people can go to learn more about you, your business, products, services, etc. as well as be able to easily contact, or connect with you. A website may also include a blog, photo gallery or galleries, portfolio, video content, products available to purchase online, and much more!
Additional benefits to having a website as your hub (vs a social network alone):
- Professional Email Address: Purchasing a domain name and website hosting also affords you the ability to set up a professional email address. Having a professional email address shows clients and customers that you are serious about your business and your brand, and gives a level of confidence that the email address has a direct relationship to the business.
- Control: With the help of your web designer you can control much of – if not all of – the design, site architecture and flow, navigation, advertisements (or lack there of!), and more.
- SEO: Websites can be highly optimized for search engines, which is still a top contender in driving traffic to a website.
- Sharable Content: Via tools such as ShareThis and others like it, content created on your website can be shared quickly and easily across the internet, expanding your potential reach even further.
- Analytics: Being able to track user information such as where visitors are coming from (what countries, states, websites, social media networks, etc.), how long they’re staying on your site, what your most and least popular content is, etc. is invaluable to continued online success.
TIP 4 SUCCESS: Your website is a reflection of your business and a powerful marketing tool, so it’s important to get it done professionally.
3. Embrace Social Media: Due to the evolving nature of the internet, in most cases a website alone is no longer sufficient enough to promote your brand. To maintain an online presence today, a combination of social tools are usually required in addition.
“Social media marketing uses social media platforms to create and foster communities and relationships. Social media marketing is focused on creating content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share content with their social networks.” – Wikipedia
With so many social tools to choose from, a little research is all you need to find one (or more) that will work well for you. You might start by researching some of the more popular ones such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
Start by identifying the network’s demographics to see how they align with your own — you need to know where your clients and customers are hanging out online if you’re going to reach them online.
Once you know where to find them, decide which of those platforms will work best for YOU long term. Do you have limited time? Perhaps Twitter or Instagram would be a good fit. Are your customers more visual? Instagram is great for that as well. Or you might give Facebook or Pinterest a try. Do you have a lot of video content to share such as tutorials, music videos, etc? YouTube may be just what you’re looking for. …Get the idea?
And then it’s just a matter of trial and error. Over time you will learn what works and what doesn’t. The key to social media success is to be present — both posting and interacting — on a regular basis.
TIP 4 SUCCESS: “You don’t have to be everywhere online, but you do have to be somewhere!” – Kate Erickson
Already have an online presence, but are looking for ways to expand it? Keep it locked right here, because that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing next time!