Does my business really needs an online presence? How do I do it?
There is no denying that in recent years technology became an integral part of our entire lives and business and consumerism portions of it are no exception. With 4.02 billion internet users around the globe, an online presence is a necessity. Nowadays it is not only needed for basic “order and sell” but more for a connection with costumer who once hooked can become a point of self-advertisement for business. But before achieving such loyal group of clients, a lot of fundamental steps need to be done.
Ways adults find informations on the web
First of all, let’s talk about searchability. People grow custom to finding everything on the internet. Some might say “if it’s not on the web then it doesn’t exist”. So going with that, the basic conclusion is – own a website or any digital footprint (ex. Facebook page, Twitter account etc.). Many of you might argue that you can go around only with a social media site, but as a giant like Facebook changing its core demographic by losing the digital influencers which are young people, a shift of power has been initiated among the biggest, making it more difficult to find the “perfect spot”. Targeting and pleasing your audience is the most important aspect here and you just can’t go wrong with a good ol’ website. Those social platforms should always be treated as another way of connection and integration with your costumers, not a permanent accommodation for your business, but more about it later on. Going back to searchability, as a first source for gaining information on the internet, 90% of adults have chosen online search engines and no one can argue with it. It the simplest way: just put a phrase connected with the topic and the whole digital world opens upon us. But how among the millions of results is it possible to be one of the top positions? Search engines are built on complicated algorithms with a tone of variables, but in the end for a business it comes down to one simple thing – search engine optimization (SEO). It is a powerful tool when it comes to today’s searching habits. For example with rise of smartphones and constant connection with the internet everywhere, “near me” searches have gone thru the roof. To capitalize on this trend you need to optimize your presence to local searches. It can be done using a lot of different tactics but to simplify it all you need to help the search engine choose your business. Tags, geolocations and additional information which may be a phrase searched by a potential customer are the things you need to start with.
Secondly, you need to understand the changing ways of communication with your target audience. Phone number won’t do it anymore. With busy life’s as one of the main reasons, people nowadays prefer an online communication where you simply send a question and receive an answer whenever you like, or more accurately whenever you have that spare 5 minutes. For that we have a traditional e-mail form but a true winner in this field are social media platforms. Facebook chat is a great option for customers to carry full conversations with your business whenever they like to. And when we say “whenever they like”, we want to emphasize that this only applies to costumer. It is still required for the other end to be there and to answer as quick as possible. But nonetheless it is still an improvement for a business as you have more time to provide better responds to your clients.
“user to user” communication isn’t the only option. Facebook and its posts and comments can be a sort of megaphone to your audience. It is always good to treat your customer as if it’s your only and best one by respond to everything regarding your business, but soon enough you’ll see it’s not possible without investing in a social media consultant. But don’t worry, if you have this problem it means you are growing and that a good thing.
Percentage growth of active consumers on social network sites
We’ve talked about Facebook and its capabilities but what about all the others sites? As you may see on the graph the active consumer base using social media platforms became 2/3 of all the internet users and it doesn’t have the slightest intentions to stop there. Not all of it is Facebook. The second one is video streaming platform YouTube, third is photo based Instagram but for now let’s take a moment and talk about Twitter which may not be the biggest but it has some amazing aspects to its business portion. As you may know Twitter works as a “post and respond” type of platform. It is simple, has a limited number of characters and most important it is open for all when it comes to your posts. This aspect makes Twitter a powerful double-edged sword, where you can on one hand gain a lot if used correctly but on the other hand hurt your business if you don’t know what you are doing. Its features are great for example for brief announcements, posting links to articles and other things relative to your business. But the best part are personal responses which on twitter aren’t that personal because everyone can see it. You might now understand why it is so easy to hurt yourself using Twitter. If you respond in a negative or generic way everyone can see it and vice versa. You can gain sympathy even from your critics if done correctly. Digital world seen a lot of great uses of personal responds, but sometimes the power comes not from twitter itself but from the PR it gets later on, on other news sources. Many might now think it only relates to big companies but you would be surprised how many local businesses gain from good, creative advertisement on twitter. While talking about this platform we can’t forget about the tags portion of it. Twitter is the only place (besides adult websites) on the internet where trending tags play such an important role. Every user is aware when a new phrase or name appears on the top, generating a lot of attention to things connected with it. Use it wisely.
YouTube and Instagram are another great additional tools which may help you be more present in the digital environment. A lot of businesses don’t even seem to see the possibilities those platforms give. They are not limited to posting pics and videos to show yourself. You can easily gain attention by working together with more well-known content creators out there which fan base contains your target audience. Analyzing those variables may be though to do, but once deciphered it can easily be transferred to other branding aspects, shaping your companies image.
Lastly, two, very important things need to be added when it comes to your online presence. First, your actions on the web relates to everyone out there - it doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity or a simple Joe. Treat all of your customers respectfully because there aren’t a lot of things faster on the internet than negative comments or rampages. Second, you must be as organic as you can be in your digital presence if you want to gain from it. People easily see thru cheap campaigns disguised as viral videos or other fake stuff like that. Saying “be honest” would be a bit of a lie and simplification of those really complicated matters, but try to create an honest environment in which clients feel as it is their favorite teacher or an elderly likable neighbor speaking on the chat, ready to help anyway he can while at the same time being polite, talking with respect and keeping it calm no matter how unpleasant the conversation can be. Treating rudeness with more politeness confuses people making them more likely to change their tone and attitude. Try it next time, it works wonders.
To sum it all up, a concept of self-advertisement points have been mention in the beginning. It is a trend we have been seeing for a while now with big brands having their fans fight in the name of the product they identify with. Some big brawls came from it like Apple vs Samsung or Xbox vs PlayStation. It can be dangerous but with right management no one can deny it is an advertising blessing when organic, real opinions go into the digital world praising and promoting your business. But this aspect is a final stage of it all and to achieve it, some solid foundations need be laid. Only then it is possible to capitalize on the boundless potential of internet and the changing ways of today’s business dynamics.