Here’s a dazzling statistic: the social media giant Facebook is about to hit one billion users. One billion. There are around seven billion people in the world, meaning that more than 1/10th of the world’s population is on Facebook. I think it’s fair to say that most of those near-billion Facebook users spend a significant amount of their time on the web either socializing with friends or simply browsing. So my question to you as a business owner is this: How do you plan to get in on that huge market? I don’t blame you if you don’t have a clear answer to that question. Branding a business for the web can be tricky, especially now when web trends can rise and fall in a matter of days. Though you might have a tough time finding an adequate voice for your business online, you can’t deny the benefits—the sheer reach you can achieve on the web dwarfs any other advertising and marketing medium. Print and TV ads might still be around, but the web is the present and future of smart business marketing. Let’s talk about how to rebrand your business so it reads as web-savvy and engaging for today’s typical consumer. Blogging 2.0 Blogging is the first line of defense for a business looking to establish a noticeable online presence. A blog gives your business a personal touch—it’s an ideal platform for speaking to potential customers as people, to reach out to them beyond the traditional conventions of marketing. For the business community, blogging is much more than a sales pitch: it’s a way to offer an insider’s perspective to readers, to show them that the business is about more than just making money. Blog with a breezy, conversational style and you might just build an online community around your brand; then you’ll really start to see results for your business. An Outstanding Website Interface This is 2012. The web has been around for quite some time now. Unless your business is brand new, you should already have some sort of website up and running so potential customers can look up your services and information online. I can’t stress enough how important it is that your business’s website should be appealing to your target clientele. Your website needs to have edge, personality and an overall welcoming aesthetic. How do you design such a website? Well, you need to design an interface with a mind for your customers. If you’re a small business specializing in one area of graphic design, then you probably run your website on your own uniquely designed platform rather than on Blogspot or WordPress. If you’re offering a service that might be unfamiliar to the average web user, then perhaps you should include a comprehensive FAQ page explaining the nature of your business. Your business’s website is probably the first point of contact for most people, so you have to invest time and effort into it if you want to retain and attract customers. Tweet, Friend and Pin Your Way to the Top Maintaining a strong presence on various social media platforms is just as - if not more - important than blogging for your business. Like I said at the beginning of this article, nearly a billion people are plugging into Facebook alone, with hundreds of millions of users spread across other platforms like Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. If you want your business to get in on that huge market, you have to fight for it. That means creating and maintaining as many social media profiles as you can handle, being sure to friend and follow as many customers, industry experts and well-connected users as you can to increase your presence online. Sounds like a lot of work? Social media isn’t as easy as it seems, as it requires tons of time and strategic posting to gain any kind of following. If you aren’t comfortable with all that responsibility, you might seriously consider hiring some web-savvy folks to help jumpstart an aggressive social media campaign. How Does Your Business Stack Up? The points above represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reshaping a brand for the web age. If your business has a solid website, blog and social media presence, then you have all the basic tools you need to succeed online. Good luck to you and your online business ventures!
Eliza Morgan is an avid business and technology blogger currently writing for businesscreditcards.org. A social media junkie, Eliza is particularly interested in how new social media platforms are shaping the marketing landscape for the small businesses of tomorrow. Please send some comments her way!