Its been nearly two years since I have written a blog, or even paid much attention to my own marketing. This is a rather sad admittance from a social media marketer, but as I have often half-kidded, I am like the cobbler with the shoeless children.
Its not that I wasn't aware of how poorly it looked to have my business social media sitting unused. Yet, its hard to worry about my own when I am making sure my clients' marketing is taken care of.
What made me sit back and realize that I needed to make time for my own marketing, and strengthen my strategy, is that I began getting calls from people. And these people were telling me that they were finding me from Facebook and Google searches.
It is time for me to practice what I preach - that now my reputation is laid bare online.
And it's not just a problem for me, but for most businesses that don't have an actual marketing department to monitor their online presence.
I have had many people say, "I get my clients by word of mouth," or "I'm in good networking groups." There is no arguing that knowing someone, or being referred, gives you a stronger bond with the perspective client. This usually is how I come by my clients.
However, this is ignoring those prospective clients who have a problem to solve, and they are searching. So if you don't have a sign on that road they never are going to know you. Or worse yet, get a damaged first impression because you aren't showing off your products or skills well.
Now, when people want to learn about about a business, they have powerful research tools in their phone. If say, they wanted a plumber, they choose from the search the ones that look promising, then they take a look at the websites, and they also do a quick search of the review sites, such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If they find an active Facebook page they will also spend time seeing what is said, and being said, about the business.
I also have had it said to me, "But I Have A Website!"
Websites are important as they provide an anchor for your online presence, and they allow for a fuller description of what you do. However, websites are static. Social media gives a greater feel for what the business is like. So if a prospective client is having to decide between comparable businesses they are more than likely to go to one that is vibrant and active.
At last I am again practicing what I preach. I am making time in my weekly schedule to use best practices for my business social media. Its definitely time for me to get some shoes on!
Most have a passing knowledge of the story of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth, and how Theseus used a ball of the thread to not only find his way to the beast, but the way out. For the business owner computers, and all that is required, can bear a resemblance to the Labyrinth (though some might say the beast). In this day a business owner, new or old, has to come into the realm of the computer.
Recently I heard a speaker saying that even the days of desktops are fading, and the realm of the tablet, and other devices, will hold sway. It even made my head ache some.
At the most basic, though, your records are on computers, or your cash register is computerized. And if you want to advertise you will need to at least have a website, and consider social media.
Granted my realm is social media, but before I can set up a client on social media we often have to untangle their skein. I have also heard from acquaintances in web design that they not only get to untangle these skeins, but often watch, with great bemusement, as people tangle their own skeins.
Then want someone to find them!!
The basic scenario often runs something along these lines.
After much consideration the store owner decides that they need a website, and they shop around a little. Already they are in the labyrinth without a light as sales people rattle off mysterious terms, and quote frightening prices. Then, by a minor miracle, they hear that a friend's college age child knows how to build a website, and so for the price of a host, and a domain name, they have a website!!
But their web designer soon disappears, and the store owner hasn't kept any of the passwords handy. "Why do I need those? I have somebody handling the site?"
Worse yet they don't know how to renew their domain name, or some other company owns the domain name. Either way it is a crisis, because your domain name can be bought by someone else, or you will be paying a exorbitant fee to get it back.
And even if they have managed to avoid all of that they may well have a website that isn't easy to add on to, because it is on a limited platform. So it cannot grow with you business, and it is not easy to keep up with the growing demands of the internet, such as social media and blogging.
As a business owner you have to be aware of stock, sales, supplies, and billing. And keeping track of your computer needs is no different.
Consider at the beginning of any computer venture.
1. Will this site be easily expanded?
2. Will my web designer be there for me for the long term?
3. Do I have control of my domain name?
4. Have I given a lot of thought to what I want to say on my website, and have talked over the best optimization of word usage and order? (Working on search optimization at the beginning will save you money later).
5. Do I have all necessary phone numbers and emails for emergencies?
6. What is the best way to keep a log of all of my passwords; for both the website and the social media?
So keep a firm hold on your skein, and play out the thread carefully so you can find your way through the Labyrinth.
There are so many aspects to our businesses, so many little details, it is easy to forget those that have “been dealt with.” This particularly holds true for websites, and also for social media platforms.
When many of us came to the internet, and faced the fact that a website was necessary, we turned to an expert. And for the smaller businesses that meant either going with a friend (or a friend of friend), or a mid-range web design business. Of course, for many of us this was before even Facebook had been heard of. So we had our website designed, and it really looked high tech, and we even remembered to put it in our brochures.
Then social media came along……
The internet became that much more interactive, and just having a static web site was not enough. So some got brave, and went out and created a Facebook page.
Time passed and now the internet, along with our offices, is a Sargasso sea of lost passwords, and stray social media pages.
So, whether you are floundering in that sea, or are contemplating entering the world of social media, here are some things to check off.
1. Is your web designer still available?
2. Do you have all of the log ins and passwords for your website if you need to get a new designer?
3. Do you know where you put the passwords to your social media sites?
4. And if so, have you actually used those passwords in the last six months?
The reasons for these questions are simple. If you have decided to make the commitment to enter the realm of social media then you will need to have the icons on your website. And if you are doing blogging you will either need a blog on the site, or a link to a popular blog site (such Wordpress or Blogger). And with some of these sites, such as Pinterest and Google Analytics, you may have to have meta-tags installed to your site so information can be tracked.
Also, if your social media passwords are old then you will need to set up new ones.
You may also need to track down old, dead, social media pages.
The main thing to remember is that nothing is static anymore. So having the information at hand will save you time and frustration in the long term.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.