We hear a lot about businesses needing an online presence. They need listings, social media and review sites, and all that’s overwhelming for many business owners. Here, we break it down into five simple steps to establish — and maintain — the best online presence possible.
First, What is Online Presence and Why do Businesses Need It?
What is online presence anyway? It is the full sum of everything a business is doing online. It’s a combination of their website, every listing online, every social site, every review site, and everywhere they’ve been mentioned online. It is, quite literally, everywhere they're found online.
Businesses need online presence because that’s where their customers are. Customers are reaching for a computer or smartphone to find information about a business, instead of a phone book or newspaper, all before they set foot in a building!
Build a Business’s Presence in 5 Easy Steps
Step One: Make a Plan
This plan doesn’t have to take weeks or months; it can actually be accomplished pretty quickly. First, determine the business’s goals relating to online presence. Do they want more new customers, or to keep current ones coming back? Second, get a website. Your website acts as your online homebase. Third, get their listings out there. Start with the big ones like Google+ and Bing, then start creating listings on smaller, more local sites. Vendasta’s Listing Distribution service automates this process for you, if you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours building this list.
Step Two: Get Social
There are so many social media sites available, and their purposes differ greatly. Evaluate these social sites against the business’s goals and pick a few to try out. A good start might be Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If it’s appropriate, expand to sites such as Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn.
Once you’re there, start building a community. Connect the business’s social profiles to their website, and their website to their social profiles for cross traffic. Invite current customers to follow social profiles and interact with other businesses in the area or field to further grow that community. Posting relevant content on a consistent basis will keep fans interested, which will help in building that online community.
Step Three: Be Consistent and Provide Value
When posting information to these social sites, make sure it is consistent with business goals and values, while also providing value to followers. This goes for any content, whether it’s information you’re creating, or anything you’re sharing from others on the web. Aim for issuing quality posts and information over the quantity of posts you’re making. Also, be engaging! Ask questions and start conversations with fans.
Step Four: Stay Active
When posting to the business’s social media and website, create a realistic schedule for yourself. If you’re always very busy, don’t make a plan to post every day; instead try once a week. Set up a schedule that works for both you and the business. If this still seems to be too much, try writing posts when you can and scheduling them for later. The more active you are on social profiles, the better and more engaged the business appears.
Step Five: Monitor
Keep track of the traffic passing through the website, and stats from social profiles, such as followers, likes, shares, and retweets. These numbers will help you to see what is working. Remember, building an audience takes time. If you’re not seeing an immediate spike in your numbers, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Give your current plan at least a month before making any major strategic changes.
Building online presence is an ongoing, ever evolving process. Keep evaluating your plan and make adjustments as needed. With a strong online presence, you’re sure to keep your business clients ahead of the competition, while they enjoy an increase in customers and traffic.
Doing this alone isn’t easy. It’s not even recommended. There are many tools and software available to help you provide businesses with the best online presence. We think ours is the best, of course.