In this age of remote work, online shopping, and virtual socializing, having a strong online presence for your business is non-negotiable. It is almost like having a megaphone to the world, shouting, "Hey, we're legit, and we're here to rock your socks off!".
If consumers have any issue finding, or more importantly RELATING, to you online they might start doubting your existence, and you definitely don't want to be mistaken for a mythical creature. So buckle up and let’s make sure your online presence shines brighter than a disco ball at a unicorn dance party.
What a strong online presence consist of:
1. Your very own website (cue dramatic music)
As I’ve already mentioned, an online presence legitimizes your business. That being said, operating without a website it's like telling the world, "Yeah, we're stuck in the Stone Age, and our pet dinosaur is our receptionist".
Just buying your domain and slapping on some text and a few stock photos isn't going to cut it. The design and functionality of your site is a major trust signal and a huge resource to prospective customers. Your site’s user-experience tells a customer, subliminally, all they need to know about your business. Truthfully, it makes the difference between attracting customers like a magnet or watching them roll on like tumbleweeds past your storefront.
So what would an effective website have? It will vary depending on your industry, what you offer, and target audience, but—- at the very least —-your website must convey the great things your business provides. This ranges from making sure questions are answered before they are asked, to providing social proof, to just showcasing stellar examples of past work and/or innovative product features. Your branding should act as the vessel to encapsulate all of this information and convey your business’s personality (more on that soon...subscribe to my email newsletter so you never miss a beat!).
While the latest bells and whistles may be tempting, avoid including too many of them. Fun features like fancy pop ups, interactive elements, and impressive effects, although interesting, should be used sparingly as to not muddle an effortless user flow. Simple is always better.
2. Active Social Media
Your business’s social media presence is supposed to act as Bigfoot’s footprint in the forest—a clear and undeniable sign that you're not some myth, but a real business with actual customers. Your profiles should serve as a place to genuinely connect with current and prospective customers, as well as a distribution channel for marketing material.
Keeping up with social media is a task easy to be swallowed by, except when you approach it with the right strategy. ‘Active social media’—not ‘high follower account’ or ‘constantly posting’ social media— is the key here. There are tons of strategic approaches to social media that don't continuously feed the content consumption machine but keep your social profiles alive and refreshed. You can read about some of them here. In relation to online presence, social media platforms should be built on intentional posts that cater to your ideal clients and company’s branding, while keeping consistency in mind.
Now consistency is a big pitfall for those of us doing a million other things to run our business in addition to maintaining social media profiles. But consistency is relative. Your ‘consistent’ can be 2 posts every week, while Merlin Magi-Mart’s ‘consistent’ could mean posting once a month.
Start by developing a strategy that works for your business, who it’s trying to reach, and your schedule. Adapt accordingly as you ride along.
3. Listings on Crowd-Sourced, Third-Party Websites (think yelp and google reviews)
Listings on online review communities, like Yelp, where potential customers can find undoctored testimonials with their eyes closed, is a surefire way to easily establish trust. Granted the reviews need to paint your business in a dazzling light, but as long as you're doing what you should be, the post sale follow-up is what we need to focus on here.
While most people understand the value of a good review, asking them to write one is a big ask. Think about it, you're asking them to take several moments out of their busy day to summarize their experience with YOUR business, for. nothing. in. return. While most people are happy to provide that kind of support, it is not at the top of their priority list and easily becomes a forgotten task. The solution? Make it as quick and easy as possible.
Customers should be able to leave glowing praise in the time it takes them to get from your storefront to their car. If you're a virtual business, in the time it takes for their next tab to load.
Here are my favorite go-tos that can take less 15 minutes to set up:
A trusty QR Code that directs the customer right to your google/yelp listing, displayed prominently and appealingly on a receipt or on a sign near check out. A fun and clever call to action should be present as well.
A touching, on-brand follow up email with a link that directs customers right to your google/yelp listing…alongside a charming call to action.
Although coupling the nudge to leave a review with a required task that the customer has to complete anyway (ex: having it pop up before finishing check out) seems wise, it may be illegal and/or subject you to low-quality, lazy reviews. Incentivizing reviews with contests or giveaways, while a fun marketing opportunity, it also has the potential to invite lackluster reviews and trouble with the law. So be mindful and make the ‘skip’ option easy to find (but maybe not too inviting).
4. Quality Content
Lastly and most importantly, in the online realm quality content reigns supreme. It is the crown jewel that makes an online presence for any business. Just like a masterful storyteller, quality content captivates and engages audiences, weaving a narrative that leaves a lasting impression. It's not just about having a flashy website or a polished social media presence; it's about filling those digital spaces with valuable, relevant, and compelling content that leaves visitors craving for more. Quality content establishes credibility, showcases expertise, and builds trust with customers (read more about how customers decide whether to trust you in a glance). It's the magical potion that boosts search engine rankings, attracts organic traffic, and keeps audiences coming back for another enchanting experience.
I feel duty-bound to clarify that quality and quantity are two different things. Meaning that to create quality content does not obligate you to make content for every platform. Although there are ways to make the content work twice as hard as you do, focusing unwaveringly on a single content channel yields greater results than even Glinda's magic wand. Choosing the avenue of content is going to completely rely on who you are trying to reach and what form of content they consume the most. Do your research.
Here are the best content channels and a summary on how you should approach them:
A blog serves as a captivating and informative hub that not only showcases your expertise but also keeps your audience coming back for more. A well-maintained blog helps to establish your brand as a thought leader and builds trust and credibility among your customers. It provides an opportunity to dive deeper into topics related to your industry, offering valuable insights, tips, and resources that keep readers engaged and informed. To make a blog lucrative, it's essential to incorporate relevant keywords to enhance search engine optimization and to write about topics of value to your target audience. Consistency is key, so maintaining a regular publishing schedule helps keep your audience engaged. Engaging with readers through comments and social media further enhances the blog's value and fosters a sense of community. For personality lead, one-person-show kind of businesses (content creators, actors, etc) monetization strategies, such as sponsored content, affiliate marketing, or even selling digital products, can also turn your blog into a profitable venture. So, unleash your creativity like a genie coming out of a lamp, share your knowledge, and let your blog be the beacon that guides your audience toward your business.
Long Form Video
Long-form video possesses the power to captivate and mesmerize audiences like a mythical phoenix rising from the ashes. It allows you to tell a compelling story, showcase your brand's personality, and engage viewers on a deeper level. Long-form videos provide an immersive experience, allowing you to delve into intricate details, demonstrate product features, or share helpful tips or tricks. They create a lasting impact, leaving an indelible mark on your audience's memory. While long form videos have less of an impact on SEO when compared to blogs, leveraging the allure of longer videos can create an experience for your viewers while also reaping the rewards of a flourishing online presence. It puts a face, voice, and personality to your brand. So get the camera ready.
Short Form Video
Like swift and nimble fairies capturing attention in mere seconds, short-form videos are bite-sized, snackable content that can be easily consumed and shared across various platforms. They provide a perfect opportunity to showcase your brand's creativity, humor, and key messages in a concise and impactful manner. With the rise of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, short-form videos have become an essential tool for businesses to engage with their audience and attract new customers. The beauty of short-form videos lies in their potential for virality, increased brand visibility, and much easier creation. Through clever storytelling and eye-catching visuals, short-form videos can spark curiosity, generate buzz, and even drive traffic to your website or online store. So, embrace the magic of short-form videos, for within their brevity lies the potential for immense success and prosperity for your business in the digital realm.
Now, take a second to search for your company's name. Go on, give it a try! Are you on the first page? Are you in control of the chaos that pops up all over the internet? Granted, you can't control everything, but, if you decide to do nothing and rely on the ‘algorithm’ or luck, your business’s online presence might not look as fabulous as the mermaid sipping a rainbow smoothie. Or worse, people might struggle to find you, resulting in less traffic than Shangri-La.
You want to make it easy for prospective clients to find you and trust you. Otherwise you're sending them to frolic with the competition who's already flaunting their digital muscles.
If you're ready to jump on the virtual bandwagon let's join forces and create an online presence that's so impressive, it'll leave your competition eating their pixels in envy. As a graphic designer, content creator, and website wizard, I'm fueled by my passion to help businesses start or level up their online presence.
Reach out to me for all the juicy details on how to get started. And if you're hungry for more, feast your eyes on my blog where I spill the beans on a stress-free approach to branding, web design, and content marketing. Together, let's conquer the digital realm and make your online presence shine.