Creating A Strong Internet Presence For Your Small Business By Hillary Bruch
A business’ web presence is like their welcome mat – it’s the first thing the entire world sees. I’ve been doing marketing for years, and I know that most businesses don’t realize that the Internet does more than just advertise – it can be used to put a personality behind a product. By following these steps, you can make sure your small business has a BIG Internet presence.
Update your website for mobile devices and tablets.
When Kapital Real Estate began revamping the website to stay ahead of the industry trend by making sure it was viewable on all devices possible. It may sound small, but this simple change greatly increased our web-traffic, as it allows our customers to view our properties, see our updates, and chat with us directly, even when they are on the go.
Having a mobile-optimized website also says volumes about a small business’ overall web presence. Customers and clients who are Internet savvy expect companies to be the same. Not being technologically up-to-date can make your entire business look outdated and turn away certain audiences who would otherwise have been interested.
Learn (basic) CSS to customize your website
After working with developers to create Kapital Real Estate’s website, we had a beautiful finished product. However, when we tried to make simple changes to banners, images, or page layouts, we realized that we didn’t like having to rely on someone outside of the office to change our site on our every whim. No one on our team was anywhere near as advanced as our web developer, but after taking a little time to learn the basics of CSS we were able to make our website project exactly the image we had envisioned for Kapital Real Estate.
It is important to put a disclaimer on CSS – Learning it is not easy, and requires lots of time, patience, and practice. Resources like www.w3schools.com or www.codeacademy.com helped immensely; so did a lot of trial and error. But the most important piece of advice we can give you is this: Learn to back-up your work! One little “,” out of place can make your whole website disappear. Trust me, we’ve been there!
Learn the “language” of each social media platform.
Social Media is incredibly user friendly, however, lumping together every site into one category is a mistake. Each social media site has it’s own “language,” and knowing how to speak that language will make your posts have more of an impact on your followers. Here is an example – When a new property goes on the market Kapital Real Estate will Tweet about the beautiful dining room, upload an album of pictures to our company Facebook, pin the single best picture to the company Pinterest board, and carefully word the LinkedIn post to appeal to other real estate professionals. We are saying the same thing, but saying it in different ways, depending on the channel.
The best way to learn each social media platform’s language is to create your own personal account where you can play around with settings and easily observe what kind of content other businesses are posting. Take time to figure out what kind of posts will have the most impact for your business and will project your brand the most effectively.
Keep your content current
The key to creating a strong web presence for your business is to keep the content current and consistent. Having a “Current Events” page that shows what’s happening in 2012 projects an image that your business is unsuccessful, unorganized, or potentially both.
With Social Media, posting every day is quite easy, but posting the right kind of content is where most people get it wrong. Although it may be tempting, try not to continually bombard your audience with advertisements – Social Media is better served as a way to sell your brand rather than just your product. Sharing articles that relate to a few broad topics relating to your business (for example, Kapital Real Estate looks for articles that relate to “Milwaukee” and/or “Real Estate”) ensures there is always something new and different for your followers to engage with.
Think Like an Outsider
When looking at your website or social media pages, put your emotions on a shelf and try to view your Internet presence like an outsider would. Potential clients and customers aren’t going to know about all the long hours that went into designing a webpage, and may not be as forgiving about formatting errors or content that is perpetually “Coming Soon.” Take this into consideration as you are looking at your Social Media pages as well. Is someone going to be excited to see your content, or are repetitive posts going to get scrolled right on by?
Place yourself in the shoes of your audience by looking at your website with fresh eyes. Better yet, sit down with someone who doesn’t know anything about your work and walk them through it – We guarantee you will find errors that you never saw before.
Hire a Professional
One of the biggest lessons we learned at Kapital Real Estate was that it is a full time job staying current and creating an Internet presence for a small business. Your Internet presence needs to both portray who you are as a company and enhance the image you want to send out in the world. We could teach anyone the ins and outs of Real Estate but we needed the team member with a marketing background to truly understand what it takes to stay current in a world where once you put information out, it is hard to take back.
Don’t be afraid to spend money on hiring the right person to help you enhance your image, in this day and age, marketing dollars are not all external expenses, sometimes the best money can be spent by hiring the right person who knows how to market you and your company through all of the free channels available.
Creating A Strong Internet Presence For Your Small Business