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Existing in a Digital World

Nov 03, 2015

These days it’s all about Social Media, SEO and building your presence online. However, if you’ve never worked in this world before or had much experience with the internet, this can be an absolute minefield. Starting and building your business’s digital presence is not an easy task, it can take time, planning and a basic know-how of do’s and don’ts to avoid the typical mistakes.  The key is to start with Research. 

Research
It doesn’t matter whether your business has been running for 50 years or 5 minutes, without a digital existence these days you will fall behind all your competitors. So look at what they are doing and ask yourself these questions: 

– Do they have a website?

– Does it work on a mobile and tablet?

– Are they on Social Media, if so, which platforms?

– How do they rank in Google? Can you find them when you search for like-minded businesses?

These questions will help you build a fundamental understanding of what your competition is doing and help you identify where to start or where to improve.

Websites
Websites are forever changing and the usual life expectancy is around 18 months. This gives your website just under two years looking how it currently does before it needs a re-vamp. Also don’t forget that updating your content regularly online is highly important. Do not make the mistake of creating a lovely website and then leaving it. Think of it as a working document, always evolving and always changing. It needs your input to help it remain appealing to your customers. 

When it comes to the design of your site, unless you have the technical skills to build the website yourself, consult a professional. Use a reputable company with good case histories and example websites you can view. They must also understand the requirements needed for your website to work on mobile and tablet devices which is becoming such an integral way of viewing websites today. 

Google Analytics
You may be thinking “what?” when hearing these words or even the words SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but they are really important tools to use.  Google Analytics accounts are free and can be created easily. You will then be given a piece of code to put on your site pages – if you are using a web design company they will be able to do this for you. Google Analytics can provide you with a wealth of website intelligence from how long customers are on your website, what pages they are looking at, what country/region they are from and much much more. It is a brilliant tool for aiding SEO and helping you identify the phrases and keywords that can sit behind your website and help you get noticed above all others.

Social Media
Now the worst mistake here is thinking because there are a million and one platforms that you can be “social” on you need to join them all – BIG MISTAKE. You do not need to be on every platform, using your research identify where your customers are. If they are mostly on Twitter then be on Twitter. If you’re a very visual, customer service based company then perhaps Facebook or Instagram would work better. Research into where your business sits, how you can best reach your customers and then choose the platform. Once you’ve started making these decisions try and plan your social media posts and most importantly keep up to date with any comments and messages you receive. Social Media is a huge undertaking and in many large businesses it can be someone’s day job.  So, if you’re a small business and most of the work is down to you it can be really tough and time is of the essence. That’s why there are plenty of tools out there like Sprout Social, Hootsuite etc that can help you plan and schedule your posts in advance. However, be mindful if commenting on something topical; keep a close eye on the media just in case a scheduled tweet could look insensitive/cause offence.

The key thing to remember with the digital world is using it to your advantage does not mean you have to forego that personal experience with your customers. You would be surprised how many people still want to have face-to-face interaction and actually speak to someone rather than be “online”. However, digital tools should help your business enormously and will strengthen not only your brand presence but customer engagement, brand voice and company reputation.