Navigating COVID-19 has been challenging for many small businesses. For small businesses that rely heavily on on-premise customer interaction such as restaurants and retail, you've found yourself having to adjust quickly to maintain your relationships with your customers. For some that meant setting up a website for the first time. For others that meant posting to your Facebook page for the first time in 2 years. Before COVID-19 you may have took your online digital presence for granted. COVID-19 has brought its fair share of challenges and struggles, but one good thing that has come from it has been the innovative solutions and the reminder of how important our online presence is in today's business environment. As restrictions begin to ease in many states and you begin to be able to catch your breath, I wanted to give you a few tips on establishing or improving your online presence so that you can continue to reach your customers no matter what comes our way in the future.
Here are the tips:
Many of your customer's web searches begin with Google and so keeping this in mind, the first tip is to make sure you have optimized your presence on Google. One way to do this is through your Google My Business profile. Google My Business is a free Google service that allows you to manage your online presence on Google's search results and Google Maps.
The benefits of having a Google My Business listing include:
To sign up for a Google My Business profile:
Other items to consider including on your Google My Business listing:
If you are just starting to establish your online presence, don't feel like you must have a presence on every social media platform immediately. For most business, TikTok can wait! In my opinion, quality and consistency are more important than being everywhere.
At a minimum I would recommend that every business have a website and be on at least one social media platform, but even these minimum requirements don't have to happen at the same time. If it is more important for your business to frequently communicate time sensitive information to your users such as daily specials, then a Facebook page might be a good place for you to start and then as time allows add a website.
For whatever digital properties you have, focus on posting consistently and posting with a strategy in mind. Then when you have mastered that platform you can consider expanding to other platforms that fit your business strategy. Each platform has its own strengths and so choose the platforms that support the strategy of your business. Here are brief overviews of the major social media platforms and their strengths:
Make sure your website, Google My Business, and social properties are up to date with the latest information. If customers see one thing on your website and see something different on your Facebook page, they may lose confidence in both sites. Each digital property doesn't have to contain the same information but for the information that is on both like product offerings, hours of operation and contact information, make sure they are accurate everywhere.
Your website and social channels can contain different information. You may use your website to share your story with your customers and use your Facebook page to share more timely information like daily specials. To help promote your different platforms make sure you provide links to the other platforms in easy to find places. On your website, I would recommend linking to your social channels either in your global header or footer. At a minimum make sure and include your website URL on your social platform. This will vary from platform to platform but when possible include it in the about section or company description section.
This applies primarily to your website. If you have older articles or content that no longer provides value, then consider removing them from your site. For social channels, it is not as crucial to remove older content since users expect to see content in a timeline type of format.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and attempt to provide answers to your customers most common questions in clear and obvious places. On your website, make sure you have the following information on your home page in an easy to find location:
For social channels, make sure you have filled out your bio so that it includes the things mentioned above when possible.
Address special circumstances like COVID-19 on your website and social media channels. On your website, place a call out if possible in the header of your page to a dedicated page that addresses the circumstances and how your business is affected.
On social channels, keep in mind that it is not enough to just post once about an event. Posts over time will be buried underneath your most recent posts. For your Facebook page, I would recommend posting at least once per week to address special circumstances like COVID-19 if it affects your business's operations. You can also pin the post to the top of your page so that it remains easy for your customers to locate.
Social Media and your website is great for communicating information to your customers but if you want to build a community of loyal customers using your online presence, you must turn that communication into a two way dialogue. Here are a few tips on how to engage with your customers and build community:
I hope this article has given you a few tips that will help you optimize your online presence. Like a lot of things in life, remember that setting up your online digital presence is a marathon and not a sprint. If you already have an online presence, optimize what you have before expanding to every social network. If you are just starting out, its ok to start small. Start small and learn the skills you need from your website and first social channel before expanding. Stay focused on consistency and quality over quantity and your customers will notice!
If you have any questions about these tips or how Guiding Digital can help you out, feel free to contact us through our social channels or contact page.