I recently read an article by Lisa Barone on Weber Shandwick’s report, The Company Behind The Brand: In Reputation We Trust. The article’s primary message is about the business brand, but the secondary message and theme that is most relevant to you as a small business owner is your “online footprint” on the web.
There is a need for a presence online and small business owners should realize this now more than ever. Even if you are not pushing to target nationally or even globally, your LOCAL consumers are using the Internet to find information about your business. To put it into perspective- a recent study by BIA/Kelsey showed that 97 percent of consumers search online for local products and services.
Small business owners can start by developing their online strategy —incorporating both a website and social media presence. Your website is the higher authority when it comes to being found by your consumers online while Social Media provides another medium for engaging and interacting with your community.
Websites offer small business owners a dedicated space to talk about their company, establish credibility with their consumers and promote their products and services. This is your first digital “footprint” and impression with your consumer and your first step at “being found” online.
Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses, but is just ONE of the ingredients of the recipe for online success. Kelli Brown from iMedia UK wrote that a Facebook presence could eliminate the need for a website. Based on the pros and cons she outlined, it seems that while this is ultimately the decision of the business owner, the overall objective for your web presence it to increase your chances of being found — online. Facebook, specifically, doesn’t necessarily help your business build any rankings on the search engines giving you higher visibility in the results of your consumers.
If you take anything from this, remember that your website is a representation of your brand and if you aren’t found online, your potential local consumers may not realize your “brick and mortar” storefront as they walk down main street. Take the time to devise a strategy to get your business online. If brand recognition and trust are so important and they can’t find you, how will they trust you? Some food for thought.
Photo courtesy of Grant Wickes