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116 posts categorized "Online Presence"

February 07, 2012



IStock_000004010049Small
It is understandable how managing several social media sites, a company blog, website content and forum reading and posting in an effort to create and maintain an online brand presence quickly becomes overwhelming for a small business owner.  In an effort to do it all some small business owners may assign tasks to other employees.  There is nothing wrong with multiple people within a business handling the various online marketing strategies as long as there is a consistency of voice.  If the voice of one’s brand wavers online brand presence is actually hindered rather than helped.

To avoid hurting one’s delicate and new online brand presence there are a few consistency tips any small business owner can adopt to help avoid costly mistakes.

Online Brand Presence – Consistence User Name

This seems too easy but it can be a problem for small businesses.  When joining forums and other online communities a small business must always have the same user name no matter who is doing the writing.  If multiple user names are created customers and fans of the business may become confused, or worse, not realize that one business is behind all of the posting which is the opposite of one’s online brand presence goals.

Online Brand Presence – All Writers Understand Goals

Behind every great online marketing strategy should be even better goals.  These should be decided upon before a single Facebook or blog strategy is even discussed.  Once the goals are clearly defined any employee managing a specific strategy can stay on course since the goals are set in place and understood.

Online Brand Presence – Monitor the Brand

Even the best laid plans, clear goals and consistent writing will do no good if one’s online brand presence isn’t established.  To ensure this top priority is being met every small business owner should search their brand regularly.  For some this will mean weekly, for others almost every day.  Sometimes a search (on several search engines) will allow a clear and unbiased look at how the strategies are working.  If consistency is an issue a good search should expose it.

Regardless of how a small business goes about establishing their online brand presence consistency must be kept in the forefront of all writers.  Although this is an issue primarily when there is more than one writer a lack of consistency can still pop up with one writer if the writer doesn’t stick to the previously established goals and not let mood or emotions interfere with the job at hand. 

February 06, 2012



Online Innovation is it online marketing
We looked at previously how every day marketing strategies employed by small businesses should be looked at from the new perspective of building one’s enhanced online visibility rather than throwing away what has proven to work in lieu of completely new practices.  While there is no harm in a small business owner trying to make the transition to an online presence on their own they may want to at least consult with a professional online marketing company to make sure they are doing enough and not wasting precious time and money on strategies with little effect on an enhanced online visibility.

The key to tweaking current marketing strategies to make them applicable to an enhanced online visibility is to start with what works best.  Below are a few strategies every business already should be doing but can easily be used to bolster an enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Print Advertising

Almost every small business has print ads of some kind even if it is an ad in the local high schools basketball program.  It doesn’t matter where print ads are located; they should always include a website, blog address and social media information if an enhanced online visibility is the goal.  As suggested in Part 1 contacting a professional online marketing agency may be a wise decision when designing ads of all kinds as they have experience in promoting websites and social media.  The changes to the ads may appear subtle but usually have an amazing impact.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Promotional Material

A great marketing strategy is to give promotional material away to customers and target customers.  Depending on the industry these gifts can range from teddy bears and lollipops to Post-Its and pens.  No matter what gifts and materials a small business uses to market to customers and potential customers along with the company name should always be the website address.  Again, this is crucial for developing an enhanced online visibility. 

The focus of marketing needs to shift from the customer thinking of Business A when needing their product or service to the customer thinks of Business A’s website.  Enhanced online visibility does not happen overnight and takes a lot of work.  Thankfully, most small businesses already have effective marketing strategies that can easily be manipulated to move them online and get customers thinking of them as an online presence.  With a little help from an online marketing professional any business can quickly begin building an impressive enhanced online visibility.

February 03, 2012



Marketing-channel
These days it seems that too many companies don’t see the forest for the trees in regards to their enhanced online visibility.  With acronyms like SEO and SMO and SEM thrown around accompanied by anecdotal warnings to those not adopting such methods the message is clear – move online or close the business doors forever.  Of course there is some truth to moving online. As the world’s economy has shifted from brick and mortar stores to online versions businesses (especially small businesses) must make the transition as well to keep customers.  That doesn’t mean that good, old fashioned business and marketing practiced must be abandoned completely.

There needs to be a balance and when working fervently on creating an enhanced online visibility for a business remembering that the business was built by people, not computers, will go a long way in making the transition to online a success.  There are several ways that a small business can take great strides at building and maintaining their enhanced online visibility with very minor changes to their current marketing strategies.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Business Stationary

Every piece of paper with the business’s name must now have the business website, blog address and social media information.  It may seem like a small step but, in fact, it is huge.  How often does one go digging for an invoice to look for a phone number when the phone book or computer is two feet away? By adding all of one’s online contact information on business stationary customers will have quick and easy access to additional ways of interacting with the small business which will do wonders for enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Vehicles

Regardless of what industry one may be in almost every business owner owns a vehicle.  Business logos on a car or truck are not just for delivery vehicles anymore.  This mobile billboard can be one of a small business’s greatest marketing tools.  To really make it work there must online information included.  By adding one’s website address and a Facebook or Twitter logo can greatly increase enhanced online visibility.  Turning to a professional in the online marketing field to design an attractive sign for a vehicle is not a bad idea as those in the industry know what works.

These are just two ways a small business owner can use every day practices and items to create and maintain an effective enhanced online visibility.  Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater businesses must reexamine what marketing practices they are already employing to see what small changes can be made to bring them online and get the customers online with them.  That is the challenge of creating an enhanced online visibility.

 

February 02, 2012



Online-reputation-management
As the world continues to rely more and more on the online community many businesses are desperate to try anything to bolster their own online brand presence.  While a passion for moving forward has never hurt anyone, too many small business owners forget the power of networking.  Just like in the real world online brand presence relies heavily on networking and gaining a superior online reputation to match a real world reputation.

Online Brand Presence – Tell Everyone

Most people are used to passing out business cards when meeting customers, peers in one’s chosen industry and even friends and family.  This practice should not be ignored when trying to build an online brand presence.  A simple change to a business card can reflect the growing online presence one is trying to create and encourage people to maintain contact online. 

Online Brand Presence – Conduct More Business Online

It may easiest to pick up the phone and call a customer or client but to really propel one’s online brand presence one must also reach out via the internet.  By no means should someone forego a friendly phone call or face-to-face meeting but add to it a follow up email with one’s company’s website prominently mentioned as well as links to all social media sites and blogs.  Many people prefer to communicate via email and will be happy to make the switch from phone to computer.

Online Brand Presence – Keep an Eye on Reputation

One’s online reputation is just as important as their real-world reputation.  By doing frequent search engine checks of one’s name and business name a good start can be made at catching damaging online content.  One can increase their online reputation by writing articles for other companies within the industry, making frequent and thought-provoking comments on forums and industry blogs and making essential allies of competitors. 

There are many ways an online brand presence can be successfully created and just as many ways it can be restored.  By remembering that what happens on the internet lives on forever and treating every comment and every post as if it were broadcasted to the masses one can begin to build an impressive online brand presence.

Managing one’s online reputation will go far not only with one’s business goals but also for a personal reputation.  No one anticipates slander or demeaning comments but it happens frequently and one must be prepared to battle it when it does.  Keeping tabs on one’s online reputation and doing damage control when necessary will go a long way toward maintaining a powerful online brand presence.

 

February 01, 2012



Orange_man_shaking_hands
Any good politician knows to really get votes they must go out and meet the people; the same is true with creating an online brand presence.  While online chat rooms, webinars and social media sites are great they do not substitute for real face-to-face meetings.  For those with a small business that brings customers into a physical store this online brand presence building strategy is easy.  They have been doing it all along.  For those, though, without the luxury of customers walking into a physical store finding ways to interact in reality can be more challenging.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Host a Speaker

Hosting an industry leader at a local conference center is a great way to meet one’s customer base and open channels of communication.  Industry leaders often have lecture series and, depending on the industry, can be relatively inexpensive to book.  By offering a reservations-only luncheon with guest speaker any small business can begin to meet their customers and potential customers away from the computer screen yet still build the powerful online brand presence.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Discussion Groups 

This is, by far, the most inexpensive way to meet customers and others in one’s industry community.  Every industry has news and issues confronting the industry.  Libraries, churches and community centers often are home to industry discussion groups that meet monthly or even bi-weekly.  By engaging customers with discussion face-to-face it is easier to transfer the communication to the online arena which is exactly what one must do to build a strong online brand presence.

Online Brand Presence Face-to-Face – Trade Shows and Booths

For those small businesses unable to bring in a speaker or host a discussion group the booth can become their best friend.  By having booths at all expos and trade shows which remotely relate or appeal to their industry and target customers they can begin to meet customers and answer questions in person.  Especially for those small businesses with a handful of employees getting out and meeting customers and showing them the business is committed to their satisfaction is crucial for getting ahead.  Once a physical connection is made it will be easier to entice them to engage online which in turn builds online brand presence.

These are just a few ideas of how to create and bolster an online brand presence for small businesses.  With many of us confined to computers most of the day it is easy to forget how important human contact is for making great impressions and capturing customers.  Online brand presence is only possible if the customers are interested in one’s business.  Often times building that interest takes work only face-to-face can accomplish.

January 31, 2012



Scheduling
Most small businesses now understand the value of social media, blogs and website content when creating and maintaining their online brand presence.  Once all of those components are up and running, however, it is easy to become overwhelmed and begin to fall behind in updates.  Before ever committing to various online strategies an online marketing plan must be created including goals and strategies.  Most important in the plan should be schedules. 

Each individual piece of the online marketing plan runs on a different schedule to maximize online brand presence.  Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should be updated at least once a day. Blogs should have at least one post per week, preferably three to five.  Websites should be updated as information chances and at least once a month to keep content fresh.  Industry forums should be visited on a regular basis with comments added.

With all these different schedules anyone can see how a small business can quickly lose track and inadvertently lose online brand presence.  That is why setting up concrete schedules for each arm of one’s online marketing campaign is absolutely necessary to meet goals.  As goals are met or are changed schedules must also be reevaluated.

 Businesses should pay close attention to analytics in order to revise schedules as needed.  For instance to keep engagement at its peak and online brand presence at a maximum a business might discover that posting comments on social media three times a day is ideal.  Any more posts and the numbers remain the same; any fewer posts and the numbers drop.  In that case the social media scheduling should be changed to reflect the analytics.

While keeping up with scheduling is crucial to the success of online marketing and building an online brand presence small businesses must not forget their goals.  Social media, blogging and a business website are all great tools at gaining a great online brand presence but are not the same as sales.  The focus of any online marketing plan should always be to gain and retain customers – not get as many ‘subscribers’ on Facebook as possible.

With so much at stake in today’s company and more and more small to mid-size businesses focusing their marketing online all businesses, regardless of their industry, must bring their A-game to truly build an online brand presence.  By starting with the basics of developing a solid marketing plan and realistic schedules reflecting the goals of that plan a true online brand presence can be attained.

January 26, 2012



Social-media-graphic
As more and more small businesses begin to realize the benefits of launching an online marketing campaign with social media as the primary strategies to increase their enhanced online visibility a new industry has been created.  Social media tools are now available for a variety of tasks to aid the small to mid-size business owner in streamlining their social media marketing tactics and interpreting analytics.  For a business to truly see an enhanced online visibility taking advantage of these tools would be most beneficial.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Adding Multi-Media

There are a slew of new social media tools aimed at helping account holders integrate music, video, pictures and even voice recordings into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media accounts.  Research has proven that pages rich with multi-media generate more interest and engagement with the community.  With so much at stake in online marketing businesses would be wise to use every tool at their disposal to help create their enhanced online visibility.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Time Savers

As a small business gets more fluent in social media and their audience grows they will quickly find themselves devoting a large amount of time to the websites.  Best practice dictates that to have a successful social media marketing campaign a business must be constantly available to respond to comments and post comments regularly.  If successful this will require a lot of time especially if several sites are being utilized.  There are many new and exciting social media tools on the market now aimed at this time issue.  They streamline the updating and monitoring process by funneling all activity from multiple websites into one, easy to understand dashboard.

Enhanced Online Visibility – Analytics

After all the hard work small businesses put into their marketing some form of analytics must be available for review.  This could not be truer for those wishing to affect enhanced online visibility through an online marketing campaign.  Several social media tools provide customizable analytics ideal for the small business.  With information presented in easy to understand formats one doesn’t have to an expert to make sense of the information. 

After a company becomes comfortable with social media (one site at a time, please) they should investigate social media tools and determine which could benefit their business and make social marketing goals more attainable.  With so many tools available now and the number increasing regularly there is a social media tool available to help any business in any stage of growth build their enhanced online visibility.

January 24, 2012



Trainingclassroom
In part 1 of this post we looked at three very basic rules to remember when building online brand presence through social media accounts.  These rules apply to businesses of all sizes in all stages of their social media development.  Online brand presence is carefully cultivated over time and with thorough plans, not just appearing overnight to a few lucky chosen. 

With that in mind we can jump right back into some basic rules all businesses must follow if they hope to reap an increased online brand presence through social media use.  Today focuses on three rules that are unique for social media marketing but no less important.

Be Active

Online brand presence is such a finicky thing as are one’s customer base.  If one were to study the companies with the largest, most influential, online brand presences they would find they were constantly doing something.  Of course a small business can’t compete with the likes of Coca-Cola or Playstation but they can make themselves available to their customers by responding quickly to comments and posting interesting comments which leads to the next rule.

Initiate Conversations

Facebook and Twitter are vehicles for conversations, not an arena for sales pitches.  Customers can turn to a business’s website if they want to learn about how wonderful a product or service is.  Online brand presence is, also, not directly about sales.  It is simply getting the word out about one’s business.  By posing thought-provoking questions and posting intelligent, interesting questions customers will respect and admire one’s Facebook or Twitter page resulting in the highly coveted online brand presence.

Take the Time

This cannot be stressed enough.  When businesses complain that their social media accounts are not building the online brand presence they were expecting time is usually the reason why.  Businesses need to post a comment at least once a day and respond to comments within a maximum of twenty-four hours.  There are a variety of online solutions for being notified when a comment is posted.  If a business cannot make the time to do social media correctly then perhaps they should explore other ways of building online brand presence.

The rules set forth in this two part post are very rudimentary yet still highly accurate in creating an online brand presence using social media.  It’s easy to get distracted with all the applications and customizations Facebook and Twitter offer a business, but at the end of the day if the goals aren’t met and online brand presence isn’t gained the job just wasn’t done right. 

 

 

January 19, 2012



Web
After setting up a company blog to build an enhanced online visibility it can become difficult to find quality content to post especially if posting daily. The same situation can occur in social media posts like on Facebook and Twitter.  While creativity is a wonderful virtue to possess in the world of social media and blogging and goes a long way in achieving an enhanced online visibility there are certain rules for content that should always be adhered to.  Below is a list of some of the most common rules every company should obey at all times when posting a blog or social media comment.

1)    Enhanced online visibility should be a positive thing.  That means that all of a company’s posts need to stay on the sunny side of the street.  While times may be hard and the economy sinking one’s posts should always focus on the positive.  No matter what the topic there are ways to see the glass half full.  This is one of those times to let that creativity fly.

2)    Companies should avoid foul language, crude humor and trash talk at all times to create an enhanced online visibility.  There are, of course, a few exceptions – companies specializing in the vile and vulgar – but it is safe to say most companies’ target audience will not appreciate crass humor and profanity.

3)    Posts are not for selling products. Rather they are for selling solutions.  In fact, they are not for selling at all.  Social media is such a wonderful tool at building enhanced online visibility because it allows companies an ongoing and intimate conversation with their customers and potential customers.  That conversation is about sharing idea not pitching a product or service.

4)    Companies should keep a close eye on what trends their customers are following.  By allowing the customers to determine the topics they will be much more likely to participate in online conversations. Enhanced online visibility is deemed achieved by engagement of customers not the number of sales.

These are just a few tips for developing the much desired enhanced online visibility that companies so desperately desire.  It is possible through social media to create and maintain an enhanced online visibility while increase sales numbers but it takes hard work.  Companies utilizing social media and blogging should educate themselves on all aspects, not just content, before committing to this new and revolutionary enhanced online visibility tool.



Social-Media-Collage
For small businesses wishing to build an online brand presence participation in social media is a great way to do it while keeping the costs low.  In fact, the only cost involved with social media as an online brand presence building strategy is the time it will take.  Anyone who has ever been involved in a small business understands just how valuable that time can be which is why there are some simple guidelines to remember when taking that leap into social media with marketing as the goal.

1)    Start Small and Slow – Before biting off more than one can chew in regards to social media marketing for online brand presence they should commit to one website.  It doesn’t matter if the person updating has personal experience with the website or not when starting a page for a small business all the rules change.   We’ve talked in other posts about what should be included in social media posts and how to best attract and keep fans.  Learning to look at social media through those lenses takes some time to get the hang of.

2)    Update Often and Concisely – The often part of this tip is simple.  People want instant gratification and they love fast. Honestly, a small business should be posting at least once a day for maximum online brand presence growth.  The concise part of this tip is a little more difficult.  Communication is a skill that comes naturally to some and not so naturally to others.  One would hope that the designated ‘poster’ in a small business would have stellar communication skills but that cannot always be accomplished.  No one wants to take the time to read a rambling post.  Say what you mean and say it in as few words as possible to build online brand presence.

3)    Keep It In-House – It may be tempting to immediately contract out the work of building and maintaining an online brand presence to another company specializing in online marketing.  While there are plenty of successful and highly qualified companies one can turn to for these services it’s recommended that small businesses try to do it themselves first.  Social media is a very intimate means of marketing and customers and target customers want authenticity that can only be given by one of the team.  An essential part of online brand presence is authenticity.

These are only three tips to help small businesses kick-start their online marketing campaigns in an effort to further increase online brand presence.  The most important tip of all is to remember that social media is only one aspect of marketing.  It is a communication medium that helps the business connect with customers and future customers.  It does not make sales happen.  If social media is viewed as an opportunity to build online brand presence and not as a one-stop-shop of marketing it can be a success for any small business.

January 18, 2012



Image.axd
Creating an online brand presence is no easy task just as maintaining that same online brand presence requires devotion and time.  Many companies contract out their website design or have an in-house team take charge of the process and don’t give it much more thought.  Unless one has hired a leader in website design with a proven track record in brand building, particularly online brand presence, they should not assume that their website is good enough.

Unfortunately the look and feel of a website associated with a brand plays as much an influence in determining online brand presence as social media presence, blogs and web content.  A website’s aesthetics should match the brand’s goals, beliefs and overall theme.  All too often website designers get caught up in using a successful website design as a one-size-fits-all template when the truth is that each brand should be looked at with fresh eyes.

Sometimes the remedy is simple.  A company can greatly increase their online brand presence by changing some colors, fonts, and adding a few pictures.  Other times it takes a complete overhaul of the website.  If one is not happy with their company’s online brand presence hiring a professional specializing in branding isn’t such a bad idea.  The trained eye can pick up many subtle components of a website that others never consciously notice but react to emotionally nonetheless.

One tiny adjustment that everyone can do to their website that has been proven to increase online brand presence is add photographs of people.  If one questions the validity of this marketing tool they should look at highly regarded national and international brands’ websites.  Photographs of people are splashed all over the place.  The same holds true for social media sites and blogs.  People like to look at other people, plain and simple.

So before blaming web content or small budgets for one’s lack of online brand presence try looking at the website for a change.  If it was designed by someone without the training and experience working with creating and building online brands it probably is flawed.  Flashy graphics are cute but they won’t keep customers coming back for more.  By focusing on the website as a whole representation of one’s brand – color, fonts and all – an online brand presence can really begin to form. 

This is not dismissing web content by any means.  That is still the meat and potatoes of any website.  Customers and potential customers don’t visit websites for the graphics or catchy slogans.  Successful websites with the goal of increasing online brand presence understand that all the components of the website must work in harmony to create on overall brand image.  That is the only way online brand presence is achieved.

 

January 16, 2012



Social-media
By now everyone understands the importance of social media for companies and their marketing campaigns if online brand presence in any way is desired.  No matter how big or small a company may be their presence in social media is a must.  But just designing a Facebook page is not enough to increase online brand presence.  Devotion to a brand’s page requires the same amount of effort as one’s personal page.  There are several ways to constantly improve one’s brand Facebook page, one of which being keyword optimization within the confines of Facebook.

Now that Google recognizes Facebook posts in its algorithms many marketing experts focus on using the social media giant to improve Google rank and therefore increase online brand presence.  While there is no hard in doing that companies should devote as much energy into improving their rankings within Facebook.  Keywords are also used for search on the website and companies maximizing keywords related to their industry will invariably create a stronger online brand presence.

When using social media companies have been told to keep it fresh, update daily, and find ways to keep their fans engaged to increase online brand presence.  This is great advice and is definitely the way to keep fans coming back, but how do companies get fans in the first place.  Part of building an online brand presence is roping in new target customers.  Not every customer is going to search for one’s company by name.  For them keywords are how they land on one’s Facebook page. 

Just like when writing original web content for one’s website social media comments must have keywords and phrases that will rank them higher in the internal search results thus building online brand presence.  Obviously the same rules apply as with web content – don’t overdo it.   The more natural one works key words and phrases into their comments the more effective it will be.  If one is a veterinarian in Peoria they would need to use phrases like ‘Peoria vet’ rather than ‘our office’ in comments. 

Thinking about what customers and potential customers will use as key words and phrases is only the first step to utilizing search engines for the maintenance of online brand presence whether they be Google or Facebook.  A lot of time and study goes into such processes and it is often in a company’s best interest to contact a professional in the industry of online marketing and development of online brand presence to get the ball rolling.

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