Regardless of the size of your business, if you don’t have a blog or social media presence, you may as well be setting up shop on Mars. The point of starting a business is to make money doing what you love, and a big part of that is making yourself and your brand as visible as possible. This includes offering a mobile-friendly website for potential customers to review your business before stepping through your door.
Big drivers in a customer’s choice to visit your establishment are the reviews, proffered services and past interactions that they find online, so make sure that they can find you!
Setup a Blog (Some are free!)
This is a great start to increase your web presence before opening your doors, and gives potential customers the chance to assess your business. There are paid options available in each of these options that allow you to customize your URL or get a more advanced theme, but getting started is free at:
Blogger: If you already have a Gmail email address, you already have Blogger as part of your suite of services, which also includes YouTube and Google Apps. Blogger also has the option to change stylistic elements of the site.
WordPress: A blogging platform that offers a multitude of themes to fit your style and an easy-to-understand interface. Paid options are available to register a customer domain, add more storage space, and change the style of the website.
Now that you have a blog for customers to find, make sure that you are posting regularly. It’s a good idea to post as much as possible in the beginning to help keep your brand name fresh, but can later be adjusted depending on your needs. Bottom line: stay consistent.
Remember, this is a good chance to post content that discusses your vision and goals in an attractive manner that visitors would be interested in sharing with their friends and family. This can equal more customers, but you’ll need to setup some social media accounts to move your engagements to the next level.
Strong Social Media = More Traffic
To give yourself a ready platform to connect with your target audience and share yours and others’ content, you’ll need to setup accounts with Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If three accounts is too much to manage at first, I’d recommend starting with Twitter. However, they all have features that can be used to your benefit should you decide to activate them.
Twitter: 140-character limit. The best share time is Monday through Friday, 10AM to 6PM, for the most engagements. Ability to attach pictures to tweets, and short video tweets are now possible.
Facebook: No discernible character limit. Ability to post video and multiple pictures. Optimal share time is 1PM to 3PM for your target time zone.
Google My Business: Optimizes your searchability and improves local search results through Google Maps. Optimal share times are Monday through Friday, 9AM to 11AM.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for much “social media time”, tools like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule posts for optimal times, including pictures if you’d like. As a good rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to dedicate at least one hour a day to genuine interaction online to maintain good relations with your target audience. Just be sure to remember how to act in all situations, from fans to vocal detractors.
Give it Time
Even with a wide net across social media and killer blog content, it will still take time for your online presence to collect steam. However, through time and dedication, your efforts will begin to pay off by: 1) helping customers find you easier, 2) entrenching yourself as a unique brand, and 3) establishing yourself as a subject authority in your field, whether it’s selling falafels or hammers.
With roughly 88% of customers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, it will benefit you to establish a strong online presence and stay consistent. Give potential customers a great first impression online and they will flock to your door over and over again.