That’s the power of the internet.
If you run a business and can’t be found online, people would think you don’t exist at all. This is a terrible situation to be in for all types of businesses, big or small.
But don’t fret. It’s never too late to start building your online presence. Just follow the steps below:
Map out your plans.
Before anything else, carefully consider your long-term and short-term business goals. Why should you bother with an online presence? Do you want to increase sales? Improve awareness for your brand? Reach a bigger and wider audience? Establish yourself as an authority in your niche? Be more accessible to your existing and would-be customers? Save on marketing costs?
Whatever your goals, print them out on a sheet of paper and tack the sheet where you can see it all the time, so your goals are top of mind every time you do something online.
Build an SEO-friendly website.
If your website-building knowledge is practically zero, there are at least two ways to go about building a website:
- Learn as you go. This means taking either free or premium web development courses while you build your own site. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this option, the downside is, depending on your ability to absorb information, it may take time and lots of trial and error before you come up with a professional-looking website you can be proud of.
- Hire a professional that knows all the ins and outs of technology, search optimization, marketing, and website design. If you go this route, you’ll be banking on their experience and expertise to build your site in as little time as possible.
Provide actionable, valuable content consistently.
Understand that customers need to know whether or not you can be trusted. One of the simplest ways to prove your worth is through accurate, useful content. When you consistently provide readers with practical information they can act on, either created or curated, you’ll be seen as an honest business worthy of their support.
Use social media regularly
Facebook has 1.79 billion monthly active users and Twitter 300+ million as of the third quarter of 2016. Instagram, in December 2016, registered a total of 600 million users and Pinterest 150 million monthly users as of October 2016.
What do all these numbers mean?
People are congregating on social media sites. It’s, therefore, wise to set up your social media accounts as well, if you want to reach out to them. That, however, doesn’t mean having an account on every social media platform imaginable.
Pick out the most strategic places for your business, and actively participate in conversations. Post each new piece of content you publish on your blog on Facebook. Share new and interesting information every day on Twitter to get noticed.
Start building solid relationships.
The online world of business is no different from the real world. You need connections and people who like and trust you to build a following. Because you’re still in the process of developing an online presence, it follows that people who don’t know you won’t go looking for you on social media, or even your website.
What you can do is proactively reach out to them. Be an active member of a community, say, a Facebook group where you can contribute meaningful inputs to discussions and get to know people who are better connected. The more people you know, the more visible you become.
Define your KPIs, measure your results, optimize and improve.
Now that you’ve established your goals and set up your website and social media accounts, determine your success benchmarks. Examples include increased revenue, keyword ranking, website engagement, opt-in registrations, social media engagement, conversion rate, and so on.
Once you’ve identified what success means to you, use analytics tools to track and measure your performance. From there, observe what works and what doesn’t, and perform tweaks and adjustments where appropriate.
Having all of the above in place doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically have thousands of people talking about your business. All of this takes time. You need patience and the willingness to hunker down and keep building, refusing to let slow progress stop you from achieving your goals.