If you’ve just started your business, or are new to the entrepreneurial world, then building your online presence can be really overwhelming and can leave your head spinning.
But…you have got to do it. Here’s a photo of a cute cat to ease you into it.
Okay, that helps. Now, building your online presence can be time-consuming because it is not just something that happens when you publish your website. It can be irritating because you never know how long it will take to build a trusted relationship with the people who do find you in the ocean of online businesses out there, but again it is very important because your presence is what allows people to find you.
So, shall we begin?
First let us establish what ONLINE PRESENCE is:
Online presence is the identities you’ve created and the interactions those identities have established, and participated in, online.
Your online presence has a very broad reach, and when built successfully, can spread brand awareness and gain you fans, followers, leads, customers and anything else you could ever want for your business.
You have your business website or blog created, so now begin to create your different profiles and accounts. I like to start with what I know. I have a Facebook account. So that’s what I started with first. I was familiar with all of the settings and it made it easy to do giving me a solid place to connect with family and friends. Tell them all about how awesome my new venture has been coming along.
Be realistic and do not punish yourself if you don’t reach your 100,000 followers by the end of your first month out of the gate. The goals you set should be simple. Day one set up three social media accounts. SIMPLE! Day two, go back to the accounts you’ve set up and make improvements to your work. Everyday to follow should be building on those improvements and then adding something new.
As you start to build and grow your online presence, you should be constantly checking yourself. Is this media helpful to my business? Are there others out there that might be more effective for me? Is my online presence helping me reach the goals that I am setting?
Now let’s revisit our website. Home sweet home. I like to call this “cleaning up for guests”. A good honest look at your website. Are there things that you need to improve upon? Possible things that you can start diving into now before your future customers come knocking down your door. That time is now.
Does your site have a clear message about what you have to offer? Is it easy to navigate, have a contact page, and about page, and great content? Are your products or is the information you provide accessible in multiple ways for your customer? And most importantly, does the quality of the content of your site match the promises you’ve made to your customers?
Not an SEO expert? I hear you. There are a ton of great resources out there that can help. Believe me. I’ve done an embarrassing amount of hours of research on this one.
I “Googled” it, I “Youtubed” it, I asked web developers about it. There is a wealth of information on building your SEO but in the end, I realized that I wasn’t going to reach my goal of having what I wanted without having someone sit down with me and showing me how, where, when and why. Everyone has to do it the way that works for them and that works for me. Partner in crime. Bam!
Now one thing that is very important that I want to make very clear…do not get stuck in thinking that you can’t put something out there until it’s perfect. Just get something out there. You will always be improving your content. Always look to improve but never let perfection get in your way of your business goals. What you have is 100% better than putting nothing out there. It is a process and you will continue to finesse and grow it over time and as your customers asks for more, better, faster.
Being consistent will help you to keep your customers happy. If you have an online community, or through social media channels, you should always look to be first in providing new and improved content. This will help you help you gain credibility and believe it or not, increase your SEO.
SHARE, SHARE, SHARE
I spend one hour of my workday looking at other peoples work. And I share it. It is one of the great things about the Internet. Tons of valuable insights by people just like you. You should pass this good stuff along. It’s there for you to do and helps you to build a community while giving other great businesses props for their good work too.
Pick your social media outlets. You should have at least two or three of these profiles set up that you regularly post and engage on. Consistency here is key. If you’re not able to manage your social channels by posting regularly and being a part of the conversation, then it’s going to be hard to increase your following. Social media is a great marketing tool and it’s free. When most of us are starting a business, we aren’t throwing buckets of money around, trying to see what works. Be strategic about it. Do what you know first and then build on it. Find groups and communities that are made up of individuals like you. It’s not a competition, it’s a team.
Build some relationships. There are people out there that have gone through the growing pains of a start up. Reach out to them. If they say no thank you, look up one of the 20,000 more out there and find someone who has the time for you. You’ll be surprised how many people want to talk about how they did it.
Here is the big no, no in joining online communities. Do not do this. It is irritating. Are you ready? DO NOT TRY TO PROMOTE YOUR SITE ON OTHER PEOPLE WEBSITES AND BLOGS! Unless you are buying advertising space or are asked to do so. It makes people think you are a jerk face and a tick. Phew. I feel better.
So, start building your online presence now and keep track of it. Monitor what things you post that get interest and what doesn’t work. This will tell you a lot about your audience. You may not be providing the right kind of social content to the audience that you want to attract to your website. The way that you interact online will help you expand your reach. If you have a business building website like me, then you need to remember that you may have a huge following of college students. You may also have an enormous potential following of stay at home moms who want to work from home. Anyone could potentially need your services. Don’t be exclusive; be welcoming to anyone and everyone.
And finally…always look back at your goals. It’s your business and no one knows it better than you do.