What is an Online Presence?
Generally having an online presence consists of three major factors:
- Visibility - Website, Social Media, Directories, Search..
- Relationship with that presence
What is your business missing if you do not understand that your "audience" is changing and depending more and more internet access? Often that access is “in their pocket” and is instant. What ever business is there will get their attention first.
Based on recent statistics the majority of people check out and search a business before they actually engage in a transaction with that business. Those businesses that offer validating information on the web will a leg up on building trust and expertise.
First, you need to come to terms with the fact that there are a number of growing trends that, if you want to grow or stay in business in the immediate future, you need to own. Those trends largely center around the changing attitudes and behaviors of your present and future customers. The list can be long and the impact of those trends will vary from business to business. But at the "ten thousand foot" view, the end result of all of these trends is that an increasingly larger percentage of your customers: evaluate, find, and compare most everything they do using some aspect or channel on the web.
These trends collectively mean that if your business does not keep looking for opportunities and utilizing more of what this online platform offers, your business can slowly become less viable, less relevant, less successful. The center of this strategy is generally your website, the soil of your forest, where your trees will anchor. This anchor or hub of your web centricity must not only reflect the core of your values and goals as a business, it must also interconnect with everything else you do both online and off. This intentionally and proactively channels everything your business does and values.
Reputation - Optimizing the performance of the business
People can experience a significant part you and your business from people that have already "experienced" you. This enhances discovery and builds your reputation. In this fast paced world some of that process of experiencing “you” and your business comes from online interactions as well as face to face. Adding the online component gives your business greater reach and has a multiplying effect that can be active 24/7.
In addition, your website gives you the opportunity to have some input as to what is said about your business or whether you allow others to frame the only message about your business.
The web is changing the transparency of the marketing message because it has become increasingly easy to "test" that message and get feedback from other customers that either validates that message or exposes it as a fraud..
The primary purpose of Social Media is to LISTEN and then engage in any conversations that help you and your audience relate to, or view, your business in more meaningful ways.
Presence can start with word of mouth, with social interactions that are not "directly" related to the business. Then "some" of those people may look you up.. Remembering that had they have not met you personally, or engaged with you, what they have is a reference by someone that already knows you or your business. The optimization is that they can now enhance that reference at their convenience and through your website keep your availability for validation active at all times.
Your Relationship to that Presence
The key here is to be part of the community and the conversation that intersects with you and your business. Your website and any other online presence (social, registries, directories) have to be consistent and reinforce each other.
You have to BE there! Plain and simple.
There are three key areas you must constantly review and re-enforce in an ongoing basis. It is not a “set and leave” situation but an ongoing process that needs to be part of your regular business processes.
Somebody mentions you… are they going to find our business in search (by name) (includes places like Yelp..etc..) Is your name, address and phone (NAP) correct and consistent. Do you have Google Business established?
Are you Discoverable
Researching the general topic: Do they find you as they are researching your business area, product or service. If not work on getting on that "list"..
Are you Topical
Being part of that conversation of that topic.. The more you are part of the conversation of that topic across relevant social platforms the more you intersect with people that might need your business. Also being part of related topics so that a presence of mind and familiarity is developed.
Online presence needs to be part of your regular business activity and processes. We often encourage business to think in terms of being Web Centric. To get you moving and thinking in the right direction we have brought together some nationally recognized experts on the topic of “Making Your Business More Web Centric” in the following video.